Calling twelve-hours shifts "one of the worst things we ever did," the author of a study on inadequate sleep among nurses is calling for leaders to encourage strategic napping and shorter shifts.
My four-year-old daughter recently spent six nights in the hospital after surgery, and I was thrilled when her favorite nurse took care of her two days in a row. This nurse worked the day shift: 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM. She was there when my daughter was getting ready for bed one night, and again when she was waking up the next morning.
"You're back!" I said to her. "Did you sleep?"
She laughed, and said yes, she had slept. But how long had she slept? I know she has two young daughters of her own, and lives outside the city where the hospital is. I also know that even though their shifts ended at 7:00 PM, the nurses didn't really leave until around 7:30.
Factor in the evening commute, eating dinner, putting the kids to bed, winding down, getting the kids ready for school the next day, and the morning commute, how much time could there really be left for sleep?
I felt torn. As a mother, I was thrilled that this wonderful nurse was there to care for my daughter again. In fact, a part of me wished she could be there 24/7! But as a nursing writer, I'm all too aware of the issues that can arise when nurses don't get enough sleep.
Alexandra Wilson Pecci is an editor for HealthLeaders.