Nurses Avoid Sleep for 24 Hours Due to Night Shift

Nurses that work night shifts avoid sleeping for 24 hours in order to get used to working during the late hours, researchers say.

According to researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham say they discovered the harmful sleep pattern after reviewing questionnaires from nearly 400 nurses who work at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Out of the 388 nurses involved in the questionnaires, about 25 percent said they went without sleeping for 12 hours before working a 12-hour shift.

Since there were nursing shortages during the 1980s, many hospitals have their nurses working 12-hour shifts, often a 7am to 7pm shift for the day, and 7pm to 7am for the night.

I was very surprised to find that nurses' second most frequent strategy was the 'no sleep' strategy that often involved staying awake for the 12 hours before starting the night shift," said Karen Gamble, and assistant professor at the University of Alabama in a statement. She worked on the study as a post-doctoral fellow at Vanderbilt. "That means they are skipping sleep for at least 24 hours straight."

This strategy is the least effective strategy to adjust to a working schedule, they note. The varied circadian rhythms in nurses have an impact on their ability to adapt, the study added.

The study was published in the journal Public Library of Science One.

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