Nurses with adverse work schedules have poor sleep, which can affect their work performance

June 09, 2008

WESTCHESTER, Ill. - Sleep quality and quantity among nurses is negatively influenced by adverse work schedules and additional home demands. These results have implications for both worker and patient safety, as sleep adequacy affects job performance, according to a research abstract that will be presented on Monday at SLEEP 2008, the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS).

The study, authored by Jeanne Geiger-Brown, PhD, of the University of Maryland, focused on 2,273 registered nurses. Work schedule variables, including hours per day and per week, days per week, weekends/month, shift typically worked, quick returns (less than 10 hours off between shifts), mandatory overtime, on-call, and circadian mismatch were analyzed. Sleep was measured by two items: "My sleep was restless" and "I got less sleep than I thought I should", with responses divided to three or more nights per week as the indicator. Respondents were also asked about home demands, including time spent on child care, dependent elderly care, and domestic chores.

According to the results, having inadequate sleep on three or more nights per week is associated with schedule-related poor sleep opportunity. Specifically, shift work, mandatory overtime, and on-call, quick returns, and long shifts increase the odds of having insufficient sleep. The worse the schedule, the worse the sleep for most nurses.

"Inadequate sleep has both short-term (needlestick injuries and musculoskeletal disorders) and long-term (cardiovascular and metabolic diseases) health consequences for nurses, and possibly for the patients that they serve," said Dr. Geiger-Brown. "Adequate sleep is critical to providing quality patient care."

It is recommended that adults get between seven and eight hours of nightly sleep.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) offers the following tips on how to get a good night's sleep: Those who suspect that they might be suffering from a sleep disorder are encouraged to consult with their primary care physician or a sleep specialist.
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The annual SLEEP meeting brings together an international body of 5,000 leading researchers and clinicians in the field of sleep medicine to present and discuss new findings and medical developments related to sleep and sleep disorders.

More than 1,000 research abstracts will be presented at the SLEEP meeting, a joint venture of the AASM and the Sleep Research Society. The three-and-a-half-day scientific meeting will bring to light new findings that enhance the understanding of the processes of sleep and aid the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders such as insomnia, narcolepsy and sleep apnea.

SleepEducation.com, a patient education Web site created by the AASM, provides information about various sleep disorders, the forms of treatment available, recent news on the topic of sleep, sleep studies that have been conducted and a listing of sleep facilities.

American Academy of Sleep Medicine

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