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Sleep deprivation has dire consequences
It’s not selfish to get a good night’s sleep — it’s a must
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For more information on the affects of sleep on the body, visit the
CDC website
Not getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep has negative consequences for everything from the central nervous system and digestive system to cardiovascular health, according to a
Healthline article
. Immune and respiratory systems also are at risk, making it difficult to fight off and recover from illnesses. Missing sleep also increases vulnerability to respiratory infections, such as the common cold and flu, the article said. Sleep deprivation dramatically disrupts brain function and affects a person's ability to concentrate and remember new information, according to the article. Lack of sleep also decreases coordination skills and increases the risk for accidents — an especially dangerous combination for nurses on any shift. “Sleep deprivation also negatively affects your mental abilities and emotional state,” the authors wrote. “You may feel more impatient or prone to mood swings. It also can compromise decision-making processes and creativity. If sleep deprivation continues long enough, you could start having hallucinations ... A lack of sleep can also trigger mania in people who have manic depression.”
Sleep deprivation
also increases the risks for impulsive behavior, depression, suicidal thoughts and paranoia, according to the article.
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Although severe health risks associated with sleep deprivation are well-documented, the stakes for not getting enough shuteye can be even higher for nurses and other workers on the front lines of patient care.
With 75% of nurses working 12-hour shifts, RNs may be prone to fatigue and reduced stress, Nancy J. Brent, MS, JD, RN, wrote in a article
. Working a 12-hour shift or working overtime not only resulted in nurses having trouble staying awake during shifts, but nearly tripled the risk of making errors, according to a study Brent cited by the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Reporting System. Common medication errors linked to nurse fatigue included wrong doses, dose omission and extra doses, Brent wrote.
The impacts on the heart can be just as severe. A study of data from 3,000 adults over the age of 45 found those who slept fewer than six hours a night were about twice as likely to have a stroke or heart attack as people who slept six to eight hours a night, according to the
National Sleep Foundation
. Not sleeping enough disrupts biological processes such as glucose metabolism, blood pressure and inflammation, the National Sleep Foundation stated. Sleep apnea patients provide remarkable insight into just how detrimental missing sleep can be to heart health, according to the foundation. The National Sleep Foundation refers to a study that found men with severe sleep apnea were 58% more likely to develop congestive heart failure. Still, the foundation reminds the public a sleep disorder need not be present to suffer the effects of sleep loss.

Among the factors that can negatively impact sleep is changing work schedules — something nurses may be all too familiar with in an era of flexible schedules and 12 hour shifts to accommodate staffing shortages and other issues. “Sleep is essential for a healthy heart,” an
on the
National Sleep Foundation
website stated. “People who don't sleep enough are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease—regardless of age, weight, smoking and exercise habits.”
Compromised systems and emotional turmoil
Heart matters
Physical effects
of sleep deprivation include:
  • Weakened immunity
  • Risk of heart disease
  • Risk of diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Weight gain
Mental health effects
of sleep deprivation include:
  • Delirium
  • Hallucinations
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Reduced cognitive function
Immune and respiratory systems also are at risk, making it difficult to fight off and recover from illnesses. Missing sleep also increases vulnerability to respiratory infections, such as the common cold and flu.
Master of Mental Health Nursing
 at Southern Cross University Online is the first of its kind, and is developed against the latest mental health industry standards as set by the Australian College of Mental Health Nursing. On completion this qualification can be used as part of the pathway to become a credentialed mental health nurse.
Editor’s note:
Content sponsored by
Southern Cross University