by Jennifer Dawson
Working in the healthcare sector is tiring, but fulfilling and gratifying when done right. Sadly, statistics show that the nursing community in the U.S. might be under too much pressure, since 85% of nurses feel fatigued and almost half fear this tiredness might affect – or is already affecting – the quality of care they provide to their patients. Being a good nurse is about getting practice and proper education, but self-care is fundamental to carrying out the work properly. Sleep deprivation is one of the main negative factors in play, and here is why not getting enough hours of rest can prevent you from being the great nurse you might have been born to be.
Effects of Sleep Deprivation in Mood and Social Approach
Each one of us requires on average 8 hours of sleep every day in order to restore our bodies and our minds. Signs of poor sleep are quickly noticeable, like a tired face and difficulty to focus on the task at hand, but the effects of not getting enough rest go far beyond that. When we are asleep, or body recovers and our system regains the strength and the homeostatic balance it lost during the day. Our brain isn’t as well suited to handle stressful situations, and those happen in a hospital many times a day. People who don’t get enough sleep feel more irritable, less patient and more depressed than when they are properly rested. This is a cycle because anxiety, sadness and anger can, in themselves, negatively affect our sleep.
When nurses don’t get enough rest, their relationship with their patients and their work suffers. It is their job to help patients feel taken care of, safe and calmed in a difficult situation. This requires emotional strength and integrity. Sleep-deprived nurses will have a hard time managing the situations they encounter daily at the hospital.
Tired? Your Decision-Making and Concentration Suffer
Nurses need to make decisions all the time, and often in high-pressure situations. Emergencies are part of nursing life, and nurses need to focus, manage stress and juggle various information inputs all at once. Lack of sleep affects concentration, memory and decision-making. REM sleep consolidates memory and deep sleep helps the brain recover from stress and tiredness.
If nurses don’t get enough sleep, their cognitive performance decreases very quickly, and that is harmful not just for their career but, more importantly, for the patients in their care.
About the Author
Jennifer spent the majority of her working life as a gardener and landscaper. Her main interests lie in creating a healthier and more peaceful planet, which she believes in turn leads to healthier and more peaceful humans. She left that job to pursue her passion of writing. This leaves her more time to spend with her family, while still influencing the conversation regarding the issues she cares most deeply about. You’ll still find her wandering the countryside and connecting to Mother Nature.