Why Nurses Need Sleep
By CareerSmart Learning Contributor, March 23, 2015, as published by Healthcare Hot Spot
If you made a list of the hardest working professions in the United States, nurses would undoubtedly be right at the top. For most nurses, the term “every waking hour” is an important one, as nurses are often among the first to forego sleep to continue to provide care for those in need. Though that decision is most certainly an admirable one, nurses need sleep just as much as everyone else- if not more. There are a number of very serious health implications that are associated with sleep deprivation that people need to be aware of.
Impact on Health and Wellness
A number of studies have linked chronic sleep deprivation to an increased risk of developing health problems, including memory loss, heart disease, heart failure, stroke, obesity, and diabetes.
In fact, one study indicated that three consecutive nights of poor sleep can increase a person’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes to a degree that is essentially equal to the same person having gained 20 to 30 pounds. The study suggested that sleep may be just as important as diet, exercise, and a number of other factors when it comes to developing diabetes.
Sleep deprivation can also have an impact on psycho-social well-being. For instance, some studies indicate that lack of sleep can increase one’s likelihood of developing depression while other studies also link sleep deprivation to lower sex drive, which can have an impact on interpersonal relationships.
Nurses who are fatigued from working extended hours are also at higher risk of having work-related or personal injuries because they are less likely to follow safety protocols or exercise good judgement.
Impact on Work and Patient Care
Patient care can also suffer as a result of sleep deprivation. For example, long work shifts, overtime, and lack of sleep can have a direct impact on a nurse’s performance of job duties and can increase patient errors. Common errors impacting patient care and safety include medication errors, procedural errors, and charting errors. Such errors can be detrimental to the health and safety of the patients we’re charged with serving and detrimental to the oath we take as healthcare professionals “to do no harm.”
Addressing the Problem Head-On
Tips for getting enough sleep and combatting fatigue at work include: sticking to a regular sleep schedule, creating a relaxing pre-bedtime routine, incorporating exercise into your daily routine, embracing a healthy, nutritious diet, avoiding energy drinks high in sugar, and making sleep time a priority!
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