26 October 2017

The importance of a good night’s sleep

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cat sleeping

As healthcare workers, it is vital that you get enough sleep. With care being needed 24-hours a day, you will likely be required to work a variety of shifts including nights which can be a challenge if you’ve not had a full eight hours.

A lack of sleep can put not just yourself in danger but also the people in your care as being tired can lead to you making mistakes that can result in injury. Sleeping on the job can also lead to a disciplinary and/or dismissal, so it's in your interest to ensure you catch enough Zs.

Mental Health

On average we spend a third of our lives in the land of nod and sleep is vital for staying healthy both mentally and physically. When we are asleep, it gives our mind and body a chance to digest the events of the day as well as supporting the immune system.

According to studies, sleep deprivation negatively alters parts of the brain which can lead to you becoming irritable, have difficulty solving problems or making decisions and can result in depression. Sleep deprivation can also result in suicidal tendencies as well as a lack of self-awareness and increased risky behaviour.

Physical Health

Physically, a lack of sleep can lead to a wide range of health issues and can lead to strokes, heart disease, kidney problems, diabetes and high blood pressure. Sleep plays an important role in maintaining a healthy immune system and heart. Sleep deficiency can alter the way in which your immune system operates and can leave you vulnerable to common infections and diseases. It can also lead you to perform poorly at work and could cause you to make mistakes that you otherwise would not.

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Microsleep is not a good thing!

Just one to two days of poor sleep can lead to Microsleep which is moments of sleep that occur when you’re awake. Worryingly you cannot control it, and it might occur without you even being aware of it. If it occurs whilst your driving or other risky activity the consequences can be devastating.

The top benefits of a good night’s sleep

  • Whilst asleep the brain undergoes a process known as ‘consolidation’ where it goes over everything you experienced during the day. This helps with memory and learning.
  • Studies show that those people who sleep well regularly have less inflammation in their limbs and a lower risk of suffering a heart attack.
  • A good night’s sleep sharpens your attention span and can improve your performance at work.

For advice on how to prepare for night shifts check out our infographic here