Nursing | Jill Poll RN, M Ed| April 10, 2018
Explore the impact that sleep deprivation and shift work sleep disorder (SWSD) can have on patient care, and some helpful techniques to manage the effects of SWSD.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine states that getting enough sleep is just as important as eating right and exercising. Sleep deprivation, sleep-wake disorders or shift worker sleep disorder are some of the issues impacting sleep.
Sleep deprivation (SD) can result in cognitive impairment. SD may impair performance in tasks that require vigilance, decision making, and memory planning, which are commonly required in shift work (e.g., health care and emergency services). It can result in accidents both on and off the job when not managed properly.
Sleep-wake disorder (SWD) in shift workers or shift work sleep disorder (SWSD) refers to a circadian rhythm sleep disorder characterized by symptoms of insomnia and/or excessive sleepiness in association with working a "nontraditional" schedule (one that conflicts with natural, endogenous sleep-wake rhythms).
Your health can truly suffer if you're constantly shortchanging yourself on sleep. Heart disease, diabetes and obesity, improper digestive function, increased risk of cancer and car accidents are reasons to take a closer look at the type and length of sleep you are getting.
The Cleveland Clinic estimates that between 10 to 40 percent of shift workers experience SWSD. Those who have regularly shifting schedules are most likely to be affected. In addition, daytime sleep is not equivalent to nighttime sleep in either quality or duration. This can make recovery for individuals who work the night shift difficult. Many think that as long as they can still function, they must be getting enough sleep.
The Cleveland Clinic estimates that between 10 to 40 percent of shift workers experience SWSD.
If you have symptoms, diagnosis can be confirmed by a 14-day sleep log and/or actigraphy. Actigraphy is a non-invasive method of monitoring human rest/activity cycles usually worn on the wrist such as a Fitbit. Subjective sleep scales such as the Stanford Sleepiness Scale and Epworth Sleepiness Scale, found in DynaMed Plus™ calculators, can be administered to measure sleepiness.
While many employees aren’t able to change their work hours, there are lifestyle changes that can lessen and manage the effects of SWSD. A multimodal approach involving sleep scheduling, sleep hygiene measures, exercise, healthy diet, melatonin, light therapy and enlisting family and social support can help to alleviate the symptoms of SWSD.
Following these tips will give you a head start down the path to better sleep.
Like what you read? This content was created using the latest clinical evidence-based information found in a variety of EBSCO Health products, including DynaMed Plus, Dynamic Health™ and Nursing Reference Center™ Plus.
Jill has worked as a nurse in the hospital setting for many years before she went back to school and learned about the IT world. She commonly refers to herself as nurse turned nerd. She received a Masters degree in the Department of Psychology- Instructional Design and Education Technology. She is now working with the EBSCO Health Professional Services team in implementing DynaMed Plus to hospitals and clinics nationwide.
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