Sleep Disorders Common Among Nurses


A survey of nurses at an academic medical center found that 49% averaged less than 7 hours of sleep per night, compared to the national figure of 28%.

The preliminary results of a new study show that 49% nurses at an academic medical center averaged less than 7 hours of sleep per night and many experience symptoms of disordered sleep.

For comparison, authors noted that nationally, 28% of adults average under 7 hours of sleep per night.

“We were surprised by the number of nurses potentially suffering from common sleep disorders, most notably, chronic insomnia and shift work disorder,” said lead author Francis Christian, MD, a second-year fellow at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City.

The findings were presented as a poster on Monday at SLEEP 2019, the 33rd annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC (APSS) and will be presented orally on Wednesday at the conference.

“Nurses are at increased risk for circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders such as shift work disorder,” said Christian. “Recognition needs to take place so that we can screen appropriately and make scheduling modifications to help alleviate the burden of shift work disorder among nurses.”

The cross-sectional study was completed online by nurses over 18 years of age at a tertiary care medical center. Data on demographics, sleep schedule, medications used to sleep or stay awake, and history of obstructive sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, insomnia, and shift work disorder were collected. Additionally, each respondent completed the STOP-BANG questionnaire and Epworth sleepiness scale (ESS), which authors used to assess sleep disorder symptoms. The study included 1165 nurses at University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City.

The average sleep time reported by nurses was 6.6 hours per night compared to an average of 6.8 hours nationally. Regarding medications, 26% of nurses used medicine to assist with sleeping and 13% used medicine to stay awake.

Both symptoms of chronic insomnia and shift work disorder were identified in 31% of surveyed nurses, each. Additionally, 14% had restless leg syndrome, 4.5% had excessive daytime sleepiness, and 18.5% were at moderate to severe risk for obstructive sleep apnea.

“A focus on self-awareness and interventions is warranted to mitigate against the detrimental effects of sleep disorders, ensuring proper safety and performance for nurses at work,” the authors concluded.

The abstract, “Sleep Health of Nursing Staff in an Academic Medical Center: Results of a Survey Study,” was presented at SLEEP 2019 in San Antonio, Texas, and published in Sleep.

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