When researchers asked nearly 180,000 workers about their sleeping habits a few years ago, they found that those in healthcare rank among the top occupational groups that sleep too little. About 40% of healthcare workers reported sleeping less than seven hours per night.
Nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides exhibited the highest rates of short sleep duration among healthcare professionals. More than 43% of them reported getting less than their recommended share of shuteye, according to research published by the CDC  earlier this year. And those numbers could pose a potential safety risk at work.
“Workers in occupations where alternative shiftwork is common, such as production, healthcare, and some transportation jobs, were more likely to have a higher adjusted prevalence of short sleep duration,” study author Taylor M. Shockey, MPH, said in a press release.
“Short sleep duration has been linked to various negative health outcomes including cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression, as well as to safety issues  related to drowsy driving and injuries,” Shockey added. “This research suggests that there are occupational differences in sleep duration making occupation an important factor to consider in sleep research and interventions.”
That’s why the National Safety Council featured fatigue among four key topics to highlight during June, which is National Safety Month , offering safety professionals and the public access to social media graphics  and downloadable tip-sheets  to promote awareness. (That’s also why the topic was featured in the April edition of HCPro’s Medical Environment Update .)
Workers who sleep between seven and 10 hours per night have shown significantly lower estimated annual injury rates than workers who sleep less. The results of one survey published in 2010 showed that workers who slept less than five hours per night suffered more than three times as many injuries as those who slept enough.
Kim Olszewski, DNP, CRNP, COHN-S/CM, FAAOHN, vice president of Mid-State Occupational Health Services in Lewisburg, Pa., said employers are taking notice of the dangers fatigue can pose, Safety+Health magazine reported.
“The key is the proactive piece ,” Olszewski said, “driving it from the top down, talking about fatigue, how it can be managed, how it impacts all aspects—not just work.”