You’re tired. You could put your head down on a desk right now and fall asleep immediately. You went to bed late last night, had trouble falling asleep and woke up too early. And let’s not kid ourselves. Reality is quite different. Sleep is often one of the first things to go when people feel pressed for time. Many view sleep as a luxury and think that the benefits of limiting the hours they spend asleep outweigh the costs. People often overlook the potential long-term health consequences of insufficient sleep, and the impact that health problems can ultimately have on one’s time and productivity.
Sleep loss and impairments related to fatigue are common among professionals working in healthcare settings. Long continuous duty hours, reduced opportunities for sleep with minimal recuperation time, and shift work all contribute significantly to impairments in physical, cognitive, and emotional functioning. Detrimental effects include those on personal health and well-being, patient health and safety, performance of job-related tasks, and professionalism. Many challenges exist to implementing effective personal and system-wide strategies to manage the impact of sleep loss. Therefore, adopting fatigue management strategies that have been successful in other occupational settings and developing specific interventions that are appropriate for the hospital setting are key in the causes and consequences of sleep loss and fatigue in healthcare.