Researchers have found that nurses are at an increased risk of sleep deprivation and sleep disorders such as chronic insomnia.
Published in the journal Sleep, the study found that there is a high prevalence of insufficient sleep and symptoms of common sleep disorders among nurses working at medical centres.
"We were surprised by the number of nurses potentially suffering from common sleep disorders, most notably chronic insomnia and shift work disorder," said lead author Francis Christian from the University of Oklahoma in the US.
For the study, the research team conducted an online survey of 1,165 nurses. They were questioned on topics such as their sleep schedule and medications they took to induce sleep.
It was found that on an average, nurses slept less than 6.6 hours per night while a healthy person should sleep for at least 7-8 hours per night.
Symptoms consistent with chronic insomnia were identified in 31 per cent of nurses, 27 per cent of nurses used medications to help them sleep, and 13 per cent reported using medications to stay awake, said the researchers.
Symptoms indicative of shift work disorder were present in 31 per cent of the nurses. About 18.5 per cent of nurses also had a moderate-to-severe risk for obstructive sleep apnoea.
"Nurses are at an increased risk for circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders such as shift work disorder. There should be scheduling modifications to help alleviate the burden of shift work disorder among nurses," said Christian.
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