According to a recent article, many nurses go without sleep for 24-hours in order to adjust to their late-night shifts. Not only is this ineffective, it’s also potentially harmful.
When you don’t sleep for that long, your sleep/wake patterns end up out of sync with your biological clock. This leads to a misalignment of your circadian rhythms. This kind of circadian misalignment has been associated with increased risk of developing cardiovascular, metabolic and gastrointestinal disorders.
We have a set of internal rhythms that repeat roughly every 24 hours: the sleep-wake cycle, hunger, the ebb and flow of hormones, the rise and fall of body temperature, and other subtle rhythms that mesh with the 24-hour solar day. In fact, a lot of people’s sleep problems can be attributed to an internal clock that has become out of sync or mismatched with the day-night cycle. Sometimes your body’s clock just doesn’t quite match up with society’s 24-hour clock.
Many nurses work 12-hour shifts, and if a nurse works three night shifts in a row and then has a few days off, that means he or she is returning to a normal sleep schedule on days off and repeating the 24-hours of no sleep preparation a few times a week.
Nurses aren’t alone in the struggle to work odd-hour shifts. According to U.S. labor statistics, about 20 percent of the workforce, or about 19.7 million U.S. workers, are early risers who begin work between 2:30 a.m. and 7 a.m. Try napping if you can (and if it is safe to do so) and try to stick to as regular a sleep routine as possible.
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