Today’s professional nurses typically work long hours and are often required to work a variety of shifts. Irregular sleep patterns and insufficient sleep are common with nurses, and switching between day and night shifts is usually the cause.
Sufficient sleep is beneficial to overall health. It can also help make you more productive at work. On the other hand, getting less than seven to eight hours of sleep, or interrupting your sleep on an ongoing basis can cause disturbances to your memory, critical thinking skills and reaction times, all of which are vital to your job as a nurse. Over the long term, lack of sleep can contribute to serious health problems, such as heart disease, depression, diabetes, obesity and cancer.
The healthcare industry takes sleep seriously. On countless occasions, lack of sleep has been linked to medical errors, needle sticks, improper drug dosage and incorrect use of medical equipment.
Here we’ll explore some of the causes of insufficient sleep, and provide practical tips for keeping healthy sleep habits.
Insufficient sleep can be caused by many factors, both behavior and external.
Behavioral factors can include:
External causes can include:
Working the Night Shift: Our bodies are programmed by an internal rhythm to rest when it’s dark, and to work when it’s light. Changing this timing forces a different rhythm that is difficult to adjust to, and can cause loss of sleep. In fact, researchers have found that people who work variable shifts get one and a half to two hours less sleep than those with normal work schedules.
If you have trouble falling asleep or getting enough sleep, try these 10 tips. They have been shown to help make restful sleep possible.
Staff nurses have responsibilities to their patients, team members and families. But a nurse's first responsibility is to themselves. If you’re working rotating shifts, you owe it to yourself to get sufficient, restful sleep. You’ll feel better, perform better and avoid on-the-job errors and serious health problems.