Sleep deprivation has caused motor vehicle accidents, injuries and even deaths. Because of its dangerous side effects, lack of sleep creates problems for nurses in today’s busy society. Between long work hours, family activities and distracting technology, it can be hard to obtain a healthy amount of shut-eye, especially for those who work around the clock.
Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation
Those not getting the recommended hours of sleep—which can range from 7 to 9 hours per day—can experience negative signs and symptoms. Nurses who stay up late before a day shift may experience sensitivity to cold, yawning, confusion, and memory lapses. It’s also common to get headaches and muscle aches, and to feel a general malaise.
With chronic sleep deprivation, the risk for obesity, diabetes and the impairment of the immune system are increased. Due to these negative effects, nurses may find their work and home life suffering.
Ways to Get the Sleep You Need
Whether a nurse’s issues with sleep are caused by an overactive mind or shift work, there are ways to increase hours slept each night. In addition to increasing time spent asleep, it is also important to receive quality sleep. Consider the following suggestions for enhancing both quantity and quality of sleep.
- Wake up at the same time every day. This may not apply to all nurses due to varying shifts. However, if it’s possible, set an alarm clock—even on weekends—to keep a consistent schedule. This will cause a nurse to get tired at a regular bedtime.
- Consider supplements. For nurses whose main sleep issues involve difficulty falling asleep, melatonin may be helpful. Melatonin occurs naturally in the body and is typically produced at night to cause sleepiness. You can buy it over-the-counter at drug stores and many natural food stores.
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