Hand-washing Isn't So Simple; Trouble Staying Awake?; More

Marcy Tolkoff, JD

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January 21, 2015

In This Article

Zzzzzzz...Trouble Staying Awake at Work?

For a variety of reasons—including longer work days and increased stress levels—Americans sleep 20% less than they did a century ago, National Sleep Foundation research shows.[3] A multitude of studies have proven conclusively how critical it is to be well rested in order to be mentally sharp. In fact, the National Sleep Research Project shows that lack of sleep played a role in the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the Challenger space shuttle and Chernobyl nuclear disasters.[4]

Clearly, sleep is essential when it comes to making decisions on patient care, so it's wise to be aware of signs of sleepiness when it comes to yourself, your staff, and even your colleagues. The kicker is that sleep deprivation isn't always obvious. In fact, the National Sleep Research Project says that it's possible to catnap with your eyes open! Typical signs of drowsiness, however, include rubbing your eyes, difficulty concentrating or remembering, and low energy or motivation, found a study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.[5]

A rule of thumb is that 7 hours' sleep a night is needed in order to be well rested. "If you regularly get less than 7 hours of sleep, you're not at your best," says Thomas Balkin, PhD, director of behavioral biology at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Maryland. In fact, "The less sleep you get, the worse you do." The National Sleep Foundation says you may need more than 7 hours if you have health issues, are at risk for disease, have sleep problems, need caffeine to get you through the day, or feel sleepy when driving.

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