Published 20 February 2022
A Consultant Psychiatrist at the Federal Neuropsychiatrist Hospital, Yaba, Dr. Dapo Adegbaju, has urged managers of health institutions to consider giving health workers, especially nurses who work the night shift, days off to rest their biological clock distorted by their work schedule.
According to the mental health expert, nurses who work the night shift experience sleep disturbances because their sleep-wake cycle is distorted, noting that the distortion exposes them to psychological and physical health challenges.
Adegbaju was reacting to a new study that suggests that poor sleep and stress exacerbate each other among nurses who work the night shift.
Speaking in an interview with PUNCH HealthWise, Adegbaju said, sleep disturbances is a major challenge facing health workers, especially nurses who are on night shifts.
The psychiatrist said, “Nurses or anybody that works nightshift usually have sleep disturbances because their sleep-wake cycle has been distorted.
“The brain is expected to be active during the day and notify the body to rest at night. But with night duty, this natural balance is distorted. That is why after nurses do the night shift, they are given some days off to reset their biological clock.”
Continuing, he said sleep disturbances can lead to psychological and physical health challenges, such as insomnia, stress, depression, and anxiety.
“Most times, people who do night shift are expected to sleep in the mornings but the majority do not get to sleep adequate hours compared to sleeping at night. The majority have activities that need to be taken care of during the day which impinges on their sleep leading to insomnia.
“The way forward is that people that are on night shift should be given adequate days off to rest their biological clock and the night shift duty for anybody should be pegged,” he said.
It could be recalled that a recent study from an Oregon State University researcher found that night-shift experience worsen sleep quality among nurses.
The study also revealed that nurses on night duty are also more at risk of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, insomnia, severe anxiety and perceived stress due to sleep disruptions.
The study published by the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine involved 392 nurses who reported their sleep experiences in daily sleep diaries for 14 days, noting the duration, quality, efficiency — how long they were in bed versus how long they were asleep — and nightmare severity .
Based on the results, the researchers sorted participants into three sleep classes: 11.2 per cent reported poor overall sleep; 8.4 per cent reported nightmares only; 80.4 per cent had good overall sleep.
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