Nurses find it harder to sleep before work days, finds study

Sleep deprivation is commonly linked with an increase in errors.

Matt Bodell
9 January 2020

Nurses get around 90 minutes less sleep before a shift.

A study has found that nurses tend to get significantly less sleep the night before a day at work.


Studying over 1,500 registered nurses working in US hospitals about their sleeping habits, researchers from New York University found that nurses get an average of 414 minutes of sleep before a day at work.

This is around 90 minutes less than before a non-work day.

As sleep deprivation is commonly linked with an increase in errors, the researchers were concerned about how this lack of sleep could affect nurses’ performance and what risk it could post to patient care.

The study concluded that to ensure all patients receive the highest quality of care nurses should have ample time to rest and recover.


Chronic partial sleep deprivation.

Lead study author Amy Witkoski Stimpfel, a registered nurse and assistant professor at Rory Meyers College of Nursing, said; “Nurses are sleeping, on average, less than recommended amounts prior to work, which may have an impact on their health and performance on the job.”

She added; “Research on chronic partial sleep deprivation in healthy adults shows that after several days of not getting enough sleep, more than one day of ‘recovery sleep’ — or more than 10 hours in bed — may be needed to return to basic functioning,”

“But considering a nurse’s schedule, which often involves consecutive 12-hour shifts and may only offer one or two days between shifts, the risk of complete recovery, or ‘catching up,’ is low.”

“It’s in everyone’s interest to have nurses well-rested so they can perform their critical function within the healthcare system and keep patients safe,” said researcher Christine Kovner, PhD, RN.


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