Sleep Deprivation Weighs On Night Shift Health Care Professionals

Some people are natural-born night owls, but that’s not the case for most humans.

On the other hand, patients need care 24-7, so someone has to work the night shift.

Nurses who work nights, however, run the risk of sleep deprivation, which can have serious health consequences.

Shift Work Disorder

Shift work disorder is the term coined to describe people for whom shift work has caused a constellation of symptoms.

Among these are excessive sleepiness when you need to be awake and the counterpoint, insomnia.

People who have shift work disorder report that even when they do sleep, they don’t wake refreshed.

They may have difficulty concentrating, low energy, irritability or depression.

These symptoms interfere with relationships, work and family life.

Sleep Deprivation and Health

Most healthy adults need about seven or eight hours of sleep in a 24-hour period.

Chronic sleep deprivation has been implicated in a number of health problems.

Among these are heart attacks, high blood pressure and abnormal heart rhythms.

Obesity has also been linked to sleep deprivation, as have gastrointestinal disorders and even some types of cancer.

Then there’s the risk of an accident while driving, or of making a serious error in a patient-care setting.

Stick to a Schedule

Many nurses who work night shift revert to a day-time schedule on their days off,  especially with 12-hour shifts, but that’s probably the worst thing you can do.

Your body’s circadian rhythm is constantly flip-flopping and you may feel like you have a perpetual case of jet lag.

You’ll adapt much better to the night shift if you can keep to a consistent sleeping schedule.

Get your family involved, as it’s going to be nearly impossible for you to sleep during the day without family cooperation.

What About Napping?

Napping is a mixed bag when it comes to night shift.

Some nurses find that a short (say, 30-minute) nap makes them better able to handle night shifts.

Nurses nap at different times — some take a nap just before going to work, while others nap when they get home and then deal with daytime responsibilities before going to bed.

A few organizations actually allow napping on break time. Other nurses find that a nap leaves them groggy.

Sleep Strategies

Take care of the basics: eat a healthy diet and exercise daily.

Create a sleep room (as opposed to a bedroom), with soundproofing or white noise from a fan and light-blocking shades.

Most people sleep better in a cool room.

When you get up, either immediately go out into the sunlight or use a bright light to help signal your brain that it’s time to be awake.

If you have to drive home from work and then go to sleep, wear sunglasses for the commute.

Avoid caffeine for at least the last four hours before bedtime, and if you have trouble sleeping, stop it entirely.

Alcohol can also disrupt sleep.

If sleep deprivation really causes problems, seek medical care and/or consider changing jobs.


Written By Independend 3rd party

2016-22735  Exp. 5/18