The Importance of Sleep in Nurses

There have been numerous research studies on how a person’s health can affect their work. Every research, though differing quantitatively, reached a single conclusion. A person’s productivity is directly linked to their mental and physical health. Poor physical health and fatigue can lead to minimal productivity, tardiness, and absenteeism of workers. It adversely affects the company’s reputation and customers’ satisfaction. There is ample wastage of resources and time of the company, and it costs billions to cover employers’ health benefits.

This research becomes extremely relevant when discussing healthcare workers, in particular nurses. A nurse’s well-being is directly linked to their patient care. The demanding nature of a nurse’s job is known to cause stress and fatigue. They have a lot to look after with minimal room for mistakes. The long work hours have them up on their feet, running around to ensure their patients get the best care and attention. A nurse’s poor mental and physical health can put themselves and their patients at greater risk.

After extensive research, scientists and doctors have concluded that a good diet and good sleep are the key ingredients to a healthy mind and body. For nurses, it might be easier to grab a snack during their busy days. But are they getting enough sleep?

Why are Nurses Sleep-deprived?

The noble profession of nursing solely focuses on providing the best patient care. Unfortunately, basic nursing training and degrees tend to overlook self-care and the importance of sufficient, peaceful sleep. After a lot of research on workplace productivity, programs like the online RN to MSN program and other online nursing training programs offer convenience and ease for nurses. Especially those who wish to progress in their careers struggle with their tough work routines. Traditional degree programs require tiring commutes and are heavy on the pockets. It gets difficult to attend lectures with varying shifts, so nurses easily fall back on schedule at work and school. These factors only add more to the stress nurses are already in. By enrolling in such programs, nurses can accelerate and grow in their careers without getting exhausted. These programs also teach registered nurses leadership and managerial skills. These skills include looking after their team’s well-being and ensuring they stay motivated, productive and healthy.

Nurses’ shifts are another source of sleep deprivation. Working nights or irregular, longer hours can disrupt their sleep schedule. Research published by the NCBI stated that professionals working night shifts obtain 1 to 4 hours less sleep than normal. It stated how nurses struggle to stay awake during night shifts, despite altering their entire sleep schedule.

Fatigue and work stress are also major contributing factors to sleep deprivation. A nurse’s job entails being fully alert to cater to any emergency. Even on a normal day, a nurse’s duties can be mentally exhausting. Some nurses struggle to get a decent sleep even when they are at home because their minds are so preoccupied with their professions.

How can employers prevent sleep deprivation for the nurses?

An employer’s most important duty is to ensure their staff stays motivated and productive to improve efficiency and results at the workplace. As an employer, you can employ some of the strategies listed below to reduce fatigue in your nurses.

  • Limit the hours per shift. Plan a schedule where each nurse has to work only 8 hours shifts throughout the week. If needed, change it to 10 hours but reduce the number of shifts. Exceeding the hours and working overtime has been proven to lead to poor mental health, muscular problems, cardiovascular symptoms, and the development of hypertension.
  • Give sufficient rest time to your nurses between shifts so that they can manage their errands as well as get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep.
  • Encourage nurses to take breaks during their shifts. Stopping for a few minutes during a hectic day can give a rest to your nurses and help them unwind. Long meal breaks can also help nurses eat well enough to keep their energy levels up throughout the shift.
  • Help them see how fatigue and stress can be major contributing factors to malpractice. You can discuss past incidents to highlight the importance of good sleep.
  • Rest days should be given every week so that nurses can relax at home with their loved ones. A change of pace and environment can greatly help in relaxing them.
  • Educate staff about the importance of good sleep.

How can nurses prevent sleep deprivation?

As a nurse, you can make little changes in your schedule and diet to make sure you get a good sleep in between your shifts.

  • Avoid alcohol or other stimuli before bedtime. It can cause anxiety and disturb your sleep.
  • Avoid consuming heavy food items right before you have to retire to bed. Eating light at such a time can help you all sleep better. In contrast, heavier food can cause acidity, bloating, and general uneasiness, making you tenser.
  • Exercise routinely. Staying fit can reduce a lot of health problems, especially stress.
  • Identify your triggers and know the signs of fatigue. This way, you can take timely steps to take breaks or even request a day off to relax completely.
  • Keep a good, strong bond with other nurses. Forming a community can help address problems at the workplace together. Similarly, being friendly with other nurses can keep you motivated during difficult shifts. You can sometimes cover for them, or they can cover for you.
  • Stay up-to-date with your nursing education. This way, you can always be one step ahead and handle difficult situations better.


Workplace fatigue and stress are very real. And the major contributor is sleep deprivation. It has been noticeably prevalent in healthcare workers, especially nurses, who are expected to stay vigilant and active throughout their long shifts. The stress of making even a minor error usually goes home with a nurse, resulting in anxiety and sleep deprivation. That is why nurses and their managers are now encouraged to prioritize the well-being of nurses to boost their workplace performance and keep them motivated throughout their shifts. A happy and healthy nurse can provide greater care to patients than one who is exhausted and sleepy.

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