Alertness Solutions presented results of a new survey this week at the annual SLEEP meeting showing the significant impact of our 24/7 culture is having on healthcare professionals' job performance and patient safety. The survey of 2,082 nurses found that more than one quarter of nurses (27.23%) suffered from insomnia; 32.10% had difficulty staying asleep, 12.52% had trouble falling asleep, and 55.38% suffered from a combination of both symptoms.
To our knowledge, this is the first study looking at how insomnia in healthcare professionals affects their job performance. The findings revealed that insomnia is attributed to a significant increase in medication dispensing errors, charting deviations from standard practice and falling asleep unintentionally at work. The survey also found that despite the significant impact of their insomnia, only 30% of those surveyed sought professional care to address the problem.
"The pressure of shift work and the high demands of our round the clock society, often result in the development of insomnia, which is a significant contributing factor to workplace errors that may compromise safety," said Dr. Mark Rosekind, president and chief scientist of Alertness Solutions, who conducted the survey. "The results from this study show that insomnia affects workplace productivity, performance and safety, regardless of the type of insomnia experienced. Yet in spite of the significant effects that were reported, the insomnia is rarely being addressed."
· Medication dispensing errors were reported more frequently in nurses experiencing difficulty "staying asleep," characterized by nighttime awakenings, (29.67%, p<.01) than those who were "good sleepers" (18.75%).
· Charting deviations from standard practice were more frequently reported by nurses experiencing difficulty "falling asleep" (45.07%, p<.01), "staying asleep" (41.76%, p<.001) and a combination of both (41.72%, p< .001) compared to "good sleepers" (23.56%).
· Falling asleep unintentionally or fighting to stay awake at work was reported more frequently in nurses experiencing difficulty "falling sleep" (33.80%, p<.01) and "staying asleep" (42.31%, p<.001) and a combination of both (37.26%, p<.001) compared to nurses who were "good sleepers" (20.19%).
· Negative effects of insomnia on workplace productivity were reported significantly more by nurses experiencing difficulty "falling sleep" (60.56%, p<.001), "staying asleep" (59.34%, p<.001) and a combination of both (51.27%, p<.001), compared to "good sleepers" (30.05%).
· The proportion of nurses reporting negative effects of insomnia on both health and mood respectively was significantly higher for those experiencing difficulty "falling sleep" (73.24%, 80.28%), "staying asleep" (68.13%, 82.97%) and a combination of both (70.70%, 83.76%), compared to "good sleepers" (33.89%, 48.56%, p<.001 for all comparisons).
· Only a minority of nurses (<30%) sought care for their insomnia during the past 12 months.
"These findings remind us that sleep is not a luxury - it is an absolute necessity; and that insomnia significantly affects people's lives, work performance and safety; more than most of us realize," said Dr. Rosekind. "Also, effective treatments exist for insomnia. We need to educate people about the risks of insomnia, have them seek treatment when appropriate, and use effective behavioral and medication interventions to improve their insomnia."