Restless Legs Syndrome
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Extreme tiredness at work: a serious issue; anyone with any experience?

Presently having a heavy cold didn't help but I did a really stupid thing at work the other day and noisily fell asleep several times during a meeting to discuss workplace issues! Understandably my boss was none too pleased (as he was chairing the meeting and I sat directly opposite him!) and has referred me to our Occupational Health Department. Advice, support and help seem more on the cards at present but have any of you out there been so tired due to RLS that you've fallen asleep at work and had disciplinary action etc taken against you? How was it handled and what was the outcome?

7 Replies

WOW, fortunately for me i am retired. My RLS didnt get that bad until after i retired. Mine was always there in the background since i was in my teens.

I wish i knew what to tell you what to do in your situation.

Do they know you have RLS, how it effects you etc.

Can you get advise from Citizens Advise, dont know where you live, its a free advise system for all sorts of stuff here in the UK.

Unless anyone has been where you are and can tell you their story, i cant really help you.

I dont think you did a stupid thing, if you were that tired then how could you keep awake..!

I guess it depends on what they decide to do, disciplinary action seems a bit harsh, unless they really dont know you have RLS., so wouldnt understand why you kept falling asleep.


Yup, fell asleep in a training meeting and was taken a side and questioned about my lifestyle. It then was difficult as I didn't want to open up about my illness but didn't want to be thought of as irresponsible. Tiredness presents problem with operating machinery and driving and as I was a company car driver and doing many miles I couldn't take the risk of being moved of as driver on the company insurance. As of course some of the medication would have the same effect so I had to keep silent.

No win position really.

That was many years ago and I just learned to handle my situation and power nap when I could, used stimulants to keep awake when it was imperative and accepted I would have a bad night. As I got promoted it became easier as I could manage my diary to suit my health/sleep needs. I also opted of the car scheme and bought my own and same with company BUPA both avoided all sorts of questions, forms and medicals.

If you want a career than I suggest you have to bite the bullet and hide your illness behind copping strategies until you get promoted out of the problem.


Bob M


Have have once or twice fallen asleep whilst having a face to face conversation which is so embarrassing. Social meetings are a nightmare and I do not go to my local WI for that reason and the President made it quite clear in front of everyone that it is bad manners to leave a meeting whilst the speaker is talking. I will leave the room if my legs get too bad, I think it is very rude to sit and shuffle best to walk away and pretend a weak bladder. The President knows my situation and was a 'Health Care Profesional before retirement'

Print something off the internet that explains your illness and give it to your personel department. They cannot discriminate against you, this RLS is an illness.

Good luck with this, my problems are in social situations as I am self employed.


You have protection through the Equalities Act, formerly known as the Disability Discrimination Act. It's not restricted to any specific illness, it covers so much more now. RLS fits the criteria, thankfully. I am at present in the beginning stages of a Tribunal, as I have been dismissed from a job I did for over 10 years without a single day off sick. I am trying to prove that my illness was a driving force to my dismissal. Read up on the Equalities Act. I found the best thing to do with my then employers was to tell them, everything, as I knew I was protected by the Act. Now that I'm starting a Tribunal, the fact that they were aware of everything is in my favour. Do what you feel is best for you, but I am so glad I kept my employers informed now, as they have no excuse for their actions, and there were many of them!!!

Good luck whichever decision you make.


I agree with you Helen 1965, thats why i wondered if Tpebob had informed the employer of the RLS.

I used to suffer with IBS and told my last employer when i was interviewed for the job, they took me on, The IBS got worse and i was having alot of time of work, of course the employers did not like it, I felt i was harassed everytime i went back into work after time off. It got so bad, the more they bugged me the worse the IBS got. I also told them about the Disability Discrimination Act, i took advise from the CAB. My employers said they didnt have it wriiten down anywhere about my IBS. They obviously hadnt made a note of it.

I didnt get dismissed, but i couldnt cope with the stress which just made everything worse, i went off sick for a few weeks, my doctor said it might help with the stress, I knew i would never ever go back, so i retired 4 months earlier than i should have.

Not quite the same story as yours, but i guess it depends on which way you want to go, keeping yout RLS quiet or letting them know.


Thanks to all of you for your support and details of your experiences; most useful. Helen and others, thanks for the info about the Equalities Act; that does seem to be in my favour and I suspect will be a very useful tool. Being a trade union member will help but I have always been open about my sleep apnoea and RLS with my employer, which should cover that aspect of things (which seemed important in some of your responses). Referral to my Occupational Health Department does seem an act of support rather than attack but if I am open and honest and use the Equalities Act I hope to be okay. That being said I think BobM's tactics may also come in useful..! I will let you know how I get on. Got a day off today to childcare, so off to get an hour's extra kip! Best wishes to you all, Tpebop.


Good luck, and i hope you do get support so you can still do your job while coping with the sleep issues.

Look forward to how you get on..


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