It is released in Sleep Journal that nearly 50% of nurses sleep less than 7 hours per night compared to 28% of the population. If this issue still continues without any caution and treatment, it will lead to greater accidents not only for nurses but also related to patients. In this article, we are going to give you a piece of general information about nurse sleep deprivation in nurses, its symptoms, and how to prevent it. 

nclex nurse sleep deprivation
nearly 50% of nurses sleep less than 7 hours per night


1. What is nurse sleep deprivation?


Sleep Deprivation or Shift Worker Sloop Disorder (SWSD) is a common disorder that most nurses face. It is a condition that arises when you are obliged to labor outside your normal circadian rhythm, which is your internal 24-hour clock regulating your sleep-wake cycle. It might be challenging to obtain enough sleep when the circadian cycle is disrupted. A disruptive cycle begins, resulting in intense exhaustion, yet falling or staying asleep is practically hard (insomnia). Every day, a person with sleep deprivation loses between 1 and 4 hours of sleep.


>> See more: Nurse Burnout


2. What are the symptoms of nurse sleep deprivation?

In general, there were 80% of nurses who attended the research shared that they are positive for two following symptoms:


2.1. Insomnia


More than 30% of nurses suffer from a sleep disorder. A sleep condition in which you have difficulty falling and/or staying asleep. Insomnia can be severe and continue from a few days to many weeks. When suffering this issue, nurses often wonder “should I go to work with no sleep nurse?” Chronic insomnia is characterized as occurring three or more times per week for three months or longer. According to the Sleep Journal survey, 31% of nurses had persistent insomnia.

Moreover, Insomnia can result in:

  • Lack of energy
  • Depression
  • Increase stress
  • Wrinkles and dark circles under the eyes


nurse sleep deprivation
nurse sleep deprivation can lead to Insomnia


2.2. Excessive Sleepiness


On the other hand, the second symptom of nurse sleep deprivation is excessive sleepiness. The inability to stay awake and aware can have an impact on work performance and contribute to drug or patient care blunders. It is a symptom of an underlying disease and is also known as Excessive Daytime Sleepiness. Nurses who are very sleepy feel the urge to snooze at least once throughout their shift. If you work at night, you are more likely to feel sleepy in the middle or end of your shift.

Excessive sleepiness can result in:

  • Difficulty concentrating or paying attention 
  • Memory issues 
  • Lack of motivation 
  • Aggressive behavior

3. What are the nurse sleep deprivation effects?


Suffering from nurse sleep deprivation for a long time can lead to a nursing diagnosis of sleep deprivation related to healthcare problems: 


3.1. Alzheimer


Memory and learning impairment is caused by the slow harmful buildup of beta-amyloid, a brain protein associated with Alzheimer’s. Inadequate sleep raises the risk of dementia by allowing beta-amyloid to be flushed out. (In addition to sleep deprivation, obstructive sleep apnea’s repeated disruptions and low oxygen levels can lead to Alzheimer’s disease.)


3.2. Cardiovascular


Sleeping fewer than 5 hours a day more than doubles the risk of getting cardiovascular disease, particularly in those under the age of 60. “The negative impacts of nurse sleep deprivation include poor glucose tolerance, lower insulin sensitivity, increased sympathetic activity, and higher blood pressure, all of which increase the risk of artery hardening,” stated in the National Health Interview Survey.


3.3. Immune system issues


Sleep and the immune system are inextricably linked. Consistent, high-quality sleep helps to build and regulate the immune system. The synthesis of cytokines, which are related to inflammation, rises during regular sleep. Immune “memory” develops as well, strengthening the body’s ability to detect and respond to hazardous germs. Vaccines benefit from sleep as well. Sleep deprivation increases the likelihood of infection and inflammation, as well as the length of recovery time.


3.4. Metabolic


Several studies have found a link between nurse sleep deprivation and insulin resistance, which leads to type 2 diabetes. Cortisol levels rise in the absence of adequate sleep, whereas testosterone levels fall. These alterations raise blood insulin and glucose levels, putting a person at risk for insulin resistance, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.


3.5. Obesity


Sleep deprivation and weight gain is caused by a number of circumstances. For starters, you’re just too weary to exercise and burn calories. Second, sleep deprivation affects leptin and ghrelin, the two hormones that regulate feelings of fullness and appetite. Leptin tells your brain that you’re full, but, if you don’t get enough sleep, your leptin levels fall and your ghrelin (the hunger stimulant) levels rise. Obesity is therefore linked to the development of type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer.

sleep deprivation
sleep deprivation can cause weight gain


4. How to fight nurse sleep deprivation?


4.1. Build up a fixed schedule


Setting a suitable sleep pattern can assist the body in obtaining the essential amount of rest and energy to work efficiently. Although it varies from person to person, a healthy adult needs between 7.5 and 9 hours of sleep in order to operate well.

It’s critical to keep to your sleep routine every day if you want to sleep well. Make it a habit to set your alarm at the same time every day.


4.2. Avoid eating or drinking alcohol and caffeine before sleeping


Your body works extremely hard to digest meals. If you eat too close to bedtime, you won’t get enough sleep since your body is still up and working hard to digest the meal. Avoid eating for at least 2-3 hours before going to bed. Avoid consuming alcohol or caffeine before going to bed. If you’re famished and must eat, choose something light that your body can quickly digest, such as tryptophan-rich meals (that will actually make you sleepy):

  • Honey
  • Eggs 
  • Turkey 
  • Nuts 
  • Bananas


4.3. Bath with warm water before bedtime


A warm shower is a good method to calm you down and trigger you to go to sleep. Try making a bath before bedtime to see how it works!


4.4. Exercise frequently


Well sleep is one of the numerous advantages of exercise. Exercising a lot of energy exhausts your body and makes you desire to relax.


4.5. Limit your screen time


According to studies, blue light from electronic gadgets (cell phones, tablets, television, etc.) has an effect on your body’s capacity to fall asleep. Switch off all electronic gadgets at least one hour before going to bed.

In summary, nurse sleep deprivation is an urgent issue that nurses should acknowledge and avoid its impacts. We hope that after reading our article, you can understand this disease and find the most solution to get away from sleep deprivation.