Sleep is an essential physiological need. It is a natural process that helps in human well-being, and it facilitates better physical, mental, and overall health (Filip, Tidman, Saheba, Bennett, Wick, Rouse, & Radfar, 2017). Unfortunately, many Americans do not realize that they are sleep deprived, often feeling tired, sluggish, irritable, and drowsy throughout the day (Filip et al., 2017). Sleep insufficiency can negatively alter a person’s health and can have dire consequences on the safety of those around them (Filip et al., 2017). Poor sleep is a major problem for working nurses and nursing students. This paper will explain how sleep deprivation negatively affects Florida nurses and what can be done to prevent it.
Overview of Problem in Southeast Florida
Many Florida nurses are pursuing graduate level degrees, making the transition from bedside nursing to advance practice nursing. This transition adds a burden of stress to an already busy lifestyle for nurses. Nurses returning to the classroom to obtain an advance degree are faced with extensive homework assignments, additional clinical hours, and demanding class work, all in addition to existing long 12-hour shifts, family obligations, and personal responsibilities. Such busy schedules leave many student nurses sleep deprived. A study done on sleep patterns found that a large percentage of graduate nursing students suffer from side effects related to poor sleep, including insomnia, tiredness, depression, back pain, acid peptic disease, headaches, and irritability (Menon, Karishma, & Mamasha, 2015). The study also showed that graduate nursing students with poor sleep had decreased work performance, studied less and had poorer concentration than their peers with good sleep patterns (Menon et al., 2015). The detrimental side effects from poor sleep within professional nurses is a public health issue because it affects not only the quality of the nurses’ life and health, but it also interferes with nursing duties placing patients at increased risk.
Epidemiological Analysis of the Problem
Descriptive epidemiology, as it pertains to public health nursing, describes the distribution of a disease and/or other health events in terms of personal characteristics, geographic distribution, and time (Curley & Vitale, 2016). The use of descriptive epidemiology is helpful in identifying the characteristics of graduate student nurses with poor sleep patterns, as well as the contributing factors, risks associated with lack of quality sleep, and the duration of sleep disturbances. According to Healthy People 2020, the percentage of adults who get sufficient sleep at night is less than 72% (‘Sleep Health’, 2019). It is recommended that adults over the age of 18 get 7-9 hours of sleep per 24-hour period, but among the 18-44 age group, only 70% get sufficient sleep (‘Sleep Health’, 2019). The average age of professional nurses who return to school for graduate degrees is 30-50 years, thus placing the majority of nursing graduate students within the 30% of adults with not enough hours of sleep per night. The last renewal cycle for nursing licenses showed that about 1,700 newly licensed NPs were entering the workforce in Florida, meaning that on average, around 1,700 professional nurses are actively pursuing advance practice degrees for every 2-year cycle (Florida Nursing Resources, 2019). The data leads to the conclusion that approximately 1,700 graduate student nurses per year struggle with sleep deprivation and poor sleep health.
The last APRN renewal cycle in Florida showed that 16.7 % of APRNs were male, and 83.1 % female. A total of 74.2 % of APRNs were white and remainder percentage were Hispanic, black, and Asian minorities (Florida Nursing Resources, 2019). Data shows that more than 70% of professional nurses pursuing graduate degrees have families, adding to the burden of stress and obligation, ultimately leading to sleep deprivation (Filip et al., 2017). One study concluded that of 1000 professional nurses seeking advanced degrees, an overwhelming 80% reported poor sleep-related symptoms such as headaches, mood swings, depression, inattention at work, and back pain, among others (Filip et al., 2017). Descriptive epidemiology is helpful in tracking characteristics of at-risk populations and can help professional nurses enrolled in graduate degree curses better understand the risks associated with poor sleep health as well as ways to facilitate better sleeping patterns.
Population Level Planning Interventions
In order to combat the lack of sleep among adults in the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has appointed the American Academy of Sleep Medicine to coordinate the National Sleep Awareness Project (CDC, 2019). The primary goals of the project are to expand the promotion of sleep health and sleep prevention awareness, to develop partnerships and collaborations with individual states, such as Florida, to enhance the public’s awareness on sleep health (CDC, 2019). Another goal of the project is to improve the knowledge of healthcare providers about promoting sleep health (CDC, 2019). They also recommend sleep health data collection models, and to identify and spread sleep health related policies nationwide (CDC, 2019). In order to target behaviors that impact sleep health, the National Sleep Awareness Project developed a survey that measures community sleep health (Morgenthaler, Croft, Dort, Loeding, Mullingston, & Thomas, 2015).
Participants in the survey were asked about difficulties getting to sleep, troubles staying asleep, how much time they spent awake in bed before falling asleep, etc. (Morgenthaler et al., 2015). The survey also asked participants to address their satisfaction with sleep, frustration with their sleep quality, and adequacy of sleep (Morgenthaler et al., 2015). Participants were also interviewed on alertness during daytime function, excessive drowsiness, falling asleep during the day at random times, and drowsy driving (Morgenthaler et al., 2015). The National Sleep Awareness Project survey of sleep health is a great qualitative tool that can track the outcomes of sleep improvement put forth by Healthy People 2020 initiative on sleep health. Identify what and how outcomes are being tracked to said interventions
Sleep health is one of the Healthy People 2020 initiatives. Many Florida professional nurses are returning to school to obtain graduate degrees, adding to the burden of responsibilities and increasing their chances of poor sleep. The CDC has partnered with the American Academy of Sleep Medicine in order to address the problem of insufficient sleep nationwide. Descriptive epidemiology is a great tool that helps identify the characteristics of nurses suffering from poor sleep, in order to combat the national public health epidemic of poor sleep health.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/projects_partners.html
- Curley, A., & Vitale, P. (2016). Population-Based Nursing: Concepts and Competencies for Advanced Practice. (2d ed.). New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.
- Filip, I., Tidman, M., Saheba, N., Bennett, H., Wick, B., Rouse, N., Radfar, A. (2017). Public Health Burden of Sleep Disorders: Underreported Problem. Journal of Public Health, 25(3), 243-248. doi: http://dx.doi.org.chamberlainuniversity.idm.oclc.org/10.1007/s10389-016-0781-0
- Florida Nursing Resources. (2019). Complete Guide to Nursing in Florida. Retrieved from https://nurse.org/resources/nursing-career-florida/
- Healthy People 2020. (2019). Sleep Health. Retrieved from https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/sleep-health/national-snapshot
- Menon, B., Karishma, H. P., & Mamatha, I. V. (2015). Sleep Quality and Health Complaints Among Nursing Students. Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology, 18(3), 363–364. https://doi-org.chamberlainuniversity.idm.oclc.org/10.4103/0972-2327.157252https://doi-org.chamberlainuniversity.idm.oclc.org/10.4103/0972-2327.157252
- Morgenthaler, T., Croft, J., Dort, L., Loeding, L., Mullington, J., & Thomas, S. (2015). Development of the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project Sleep Health Surveillance Questions. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine: Jcsm: Official Publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 11(9), 1057-62. doi:10.5664/jcsm.5026
- National Institute of Health. (2019). America’s Health Rankings. Retrieved from https://www.americashealthrankings.org/explore/annual/measure/sleep/state/FL