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Sleep Deprivation Essay

1175 words - 5 pages


The Impaired Nurse: Sleep Deprivation

Amber Nye, SN

Our Lady of Lourdes School of Nursing

The Impaired Nurse: Sleep Deprivation

The impaired nurse is a major subject matter in evidence based research. Healthcare services are available twenty four hours a day, three hundred-sixty five days a year. With that being stated, shift work is a requirement in the healthcare field. Sleep deprivation is the lack of sleep due to an external stimulus preventing the opportunity of sleeping and this is a commonly known result of shift work in nurses. Sleep disorders commonly occur with nurses who work rotating ...view middle of the document...

They were also twice as likely to report errors almost occurring on the job. Fixed shifts allow management of sleep patterns where as rotating shifts causes interruptions by irregular schedules and sleep patterns. With sleep deprivation, one’s attention span and reaction time decreases and this leads to an increased error rate (La Pine, 2006).

Shift lag or circadian dysrhythmia is a common occurrence among night shift workers. Being awake and active during conventional sleep hours is the main cause of shift lag (La Pine, 2006). These disrupt the awake and sleep cycle, which then results in negative outcomes on the body physically and mentally. Night shift results in the circadian rhythms being desynchronized and never fully regaining their synchronization during shift work (La Pine, 2006). When the circadian rhythm is altered, fatigue, poor concentration, and depressive symptoms occur. Healthcare providers are not expected to make errors, mistakes do happen, and some mistakes have resulted in serious injuries or death (Scott, 2006). This is not ideal for a nurse or for the patients he or she is responsible for. The risk for making errors doubles when a nurse worked for twelve and a half or more consecutive hours (Scott, 2006). The patients’ health is then at risk due to the insufficient care provided by sleep deprived nurses.

Scott (2006) studied and questioned participants and almost two thirds of the participants struggled to stay awake at least one time during the study and twenty percent reported that they fell asleep at least once during their work shift. Performances of night shift nurses decrease due to their slowed mental and physical status and the effect is an increase in errors and declined motivation. Circadian pressure related to being awake when one should be sleeping, along with deprivation is responsible for these symptoms and actions. Nurses report that when they have to sleep during the day, their sleep is disrupted and shortened (La Pine, 2006). This is in response to the circadian rhythm being interrupted.

Shift workers try to adapt to their personal schedules to become accustomed to their sleep habits and make it easier for them to be successful with their job. The circadian types can be categorized as morning-types, evening-types, and in between intermediate types (Chung, 2008). Morning type goes to sleep early and wakes up early, while the evening types are active during the night and cannot wake up early. Chung (2008) agrees with previous studies that showed that morningness-eveningness preference is largely independent of ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic position. Evening workers find it easier to adjust to the...

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