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Relationship Between Long Shifts, Sleep Deprivation And Nurse Quality Of Life

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Lack of sleep reduces quality of life, affects health, decreases work productivity, and negatively impacts family health and interpersonal relationships (Owens, 2017, 59). Nurses work 12-hour shifts or longer, for 2-3 consecutive days. Many of these nurses leave the workplace to attend their families, which can further decrease sleep time. Nurses typically teach health promotion behaviors and many times are unable to apply those behaviors themselves. “Sleep deprivation has been associated with poor psychomotor performance, forgetfulness, slowed reaction time, and irritability”, all of which are the opposite of the nursing roles in the workplace (Owen, 2017, 60). Nursing responsibilities have also been found to increase nurse cardiac stress levels resulting in acute fatigue (Chen et al., 2014).

Owen conducted a correlational quantitative research study utilizing the middle range theory of Pender’s Health Promotion Model. This study explains how lack of sleep affects quality of life, how the shift work itself affects sleep patterns for nurses, and how nurse fatigue and lack of sleep relates to long shift hours (Owens, 2017, 60). According to Carayon, the stressful workload of nurses poses a major problem for the American health care system because it can affect patient safety, and increases turnover due to decreased job satisfaction (2008). Nursing turnover rates are reportedly related to being so fatigued (Owen, 2017, 60). The purpose of this study is to encourage nurses to employ health promotion strategies not only in their patient’s lives, but also on their own (Owen, 2017, 59).

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This study brings awareness of the holistic needs of nurses, by portraying knowledge about nurse’s sleep patterns and how it’s affected by long hour shifts. The data collection method used by the researcher was the online survey tool Survey Monkey, left open for 2 weeks. Owen determined the answers of 138 participants that were selected through convenience sampling, through descriptive statistical technique. The population included nurses working 2 or more consecutive 8, 10, or 12-hour shifts that lived within the United States. The researcher did not provide a Chronbach alpha coefficient in the study, but she obtained authorization from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) prior to data collection, indicating some reliability. Data collected was kept in a secure place and protected by a password/key that only the researcher had access to. Some of the limitations of the study were the utilization of convenient sampling, a small sample size and a partially controlled setting; all of which could increase the probability of extraneous variables. Possible extraneous variables include the emotional status of the nurse at the moment of the survey, the amount of participants that work 12-hour shift versus 8-hour shifts, and the amount of exercise the nurses performed as self-care behavior.

The researcher established a relationship between long shifts and nurse fatigue, stress and burnout. The outcome of this study suggests that sleep deprivation and fatigue affect nurses’ personal and social life as well as shift work. A lack of self-care is apparent in the results of this study. But the results failed to explain the effects of fatigue on patient and nurse safety. Many nurses and nursing students drive, when they are already tired. This study didn’t inquire about the safety issues that are affected by sleep deprivation. Carayon, on the other hand, focused on the impact of nursing workload on patient safety, and health care system. ReflectAs a nursing student, I can see how nursing goes beyond a profession, and becomes who we are. This article provides insight on the perception and attitudes of nurses that work long shifts, and the lack of self-care techniques performed by most nurses. The ultimate purpose of my research is to identify the benefits of having healthy, motivated nurses in the workplace. This article hasn’t changed my thoughts on my research topic. This single study doesn’t provide enough evidence to reach my goal, but it is a stepping-stone because it establishes a relationship between fatigue and a diminished work performance. I plan on researching more on the effects of stress on both nurse and patient safety, and on the benefits and positive outcomes of having a motivated, rested nurse at the workplace.


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