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Study shows nurses get less sleep the nights before they’re scheduled to work

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Photo: LaylaBird/iStocckphoto

New York — Nurses get nearly 90 minutes less sleep before shifts compared with days they don’t work, according to a recent study from New York University’s Rory Meyers College of Nursing.

Researchers examined results of separate surveys conducted in 2015 and 2016, analyzing responses from nearly 1,600 nurses regarding personal sleep habits and quality of patient care. Findings showed that the nurses slept an average of six hours, 54 minutes on nights before scheduled work shifts and eight hours, 17 minutes before nonwork days – a deficit of 83 minutes.

Further, the researchers found that getting less sleep before working “may have an impact on their health and performance on the job,” Amy Witkoski Stimpfel, lead study author and assistant professor of nursing at NYU, said in a Dec. 12 press release.

In addition to commute times and personal responsibilities, the researchers cited the prevalence of shift work and 12-hour shifts in nursing as possible triggers for nurses getting less sleep. The body’s circadian clock can be impaired when the body is active at times when it believes it should be at rest.


“It is in everyone’s interest to have nurses well-rested so they can perform their critical function within the health care system and keep patients safe,” Christine Kovner, study co-author and professor of geriatric nursing at NYU, said in the release.

The study was published online Dec. 11 in the journal Sleep Health.

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