At most companies, if you walk into work drunk, your boss won't hesitate to enforce some sort of disciplinary action, maybe even letting you go from your job. Waltz through the front door so tired you can barely think straight, however, and she likely won't bat an eyelash as she reminds you "that's life." Based on science, your boss should be taking your sleep deprivation a lot more seriously.

Alcohol consumption, loss of sleep have similar ends.

Researchers have been looking at how sleep deprivation influences people for years, with multiple studies producing dramatic--and perhaps frightening--results. For example, a 2000 study by Williamson and Feyer found that being continuously awake for just 17 to 19 hours effects performance more than a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05 percent, reducing reaction times by up to 50 percent. By comparison, a BAC of 0.05 percent is the standard legal limit in many countries around the world (in America, the nationwide legal BAC is 0.08 percent, but many states have limits of 0.05% or less, usually for those under 21 or those who have previous offenses). Pull an all-nighter and go with no sleep for 24 hours and your performance can be the same as if your BAC were 0.10 percent. You might think you're safe if you get at least a few hours of rest each night, but the science says that chronic sleep deprivation can add up and have cumulative effects, giving you the exact same results.

No, you won't necessarily know you're in trouble.

Like alcohol, sleep deprivation influences the prefrontal cortex. This is the area of the brain associated with logic and decision making. When you aren't rested enough, your judgment can be impaired, leading you to make poor choices. At the same time, you might not realize there's any problem with your cognition or behavior. This fact means that, if your co-workers or boss suggest you take a cab home, they're actually doing you an incredible favor.

The root of the employee fatigue problem.

In general, despite studies showing more overtime actually can decrease productivity, American employers and employees still tend to believe the key to getting more is simply to do more or work harder. This belief is so pervasive that some workers fear to admit or how tired they are, afraid others will see them as weak or unable to cope.

Putting the issue to rest.

Sleep deprivation has become the norm in American businesses, but it is a serious hazard, even so, producing the same effects as alcohol intoxication. Change the current standard: Tell your boss you need rest far more than you need another shift.