That is one of the results of the first study to examine the strategies that night nurses use to adjust between day and night sleep cycles. The study was based on questionnaires from 388 nurses who work at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the results are published in the April 13 issue of the scientific journal, Public Library of Science One.
The study also found that variations in individuals’ circadian clock genes have a discernable impact on the nurses’ ability to adapt.Disruptions to circadian rhythm unhealthy
The way that nursing shifts have been scheduled since the nurse shortages of the 1980’s makes nurses particularly susceptible to this problem. Hospital nurses who work with inpatients do so almost exclusively in 12-hour shifts. The day shift normally runs from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and the night shift covers 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
Vanderbilt night shift nurses typically work a schedule that includes three days on night shift followed by two to five days off, when most switch back to a normal sleep cycle. That means most of them are shifting sleep cycles as frequently as twice a week.
“I was very surprised to find that nurses’ second most frequent strategy was the ‘no sleep’ strategy that often involved staying awake for the 12 hours before starting the night shift,” said Karen Gamble, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurobiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, who worked on the study as a post-doctoral fellow at Vanderbilt. “That means they are skipping sleep for at least 24 hours straight.”
It’s not often that you identify and characterize a human behavior for the first time, let alone one that has an effect on human health“It’s not often that you identify and characterize a human behavior for the first time, let alone one that has an effect on human health,” said Vanderbilt graduate student and co-author Chris Ciarleglio.
It was beyond the scope of the study to determine the effect that the nurses’ sleep strategies have on their performance. “It’s very difficult to differentiate between the strategies and the individual variations of the people who choose them,” Gamble acknowledged.
However, the study did ask the nurses several questions designed to assess their adaptation. For example, they asked how well adapted they felt; how long it takes them to get out of bed; how much caffeine they use; and how likely they are to fall asleep during the day. The answers to these questions indicate that the nurses who use the sleep deprivation strategy are the most poorly adapted of the five groups.
The researchers recommend that nurses should be advised to avoid the “no sleep” strategy when working nights and suggest that hospitals re-evaluate the way that they schedule nurses to reduce the frequency with which nurses switch sleep schedules.
“Most people don’t want to work at night and those that do use what works best for them and their lifestyle,” observed co-investigator Nancy Wells, director of nursing research at Vanderbilt.
Scheduling is a very touchy issue and many nurses, particularly the younger ones, like the current system because it allows them to string together a number of days off without taking vacation, she added.The study found that night nurses used five distinct sleep strategies illustrated by this figure. The schedules cover eight days (A to H). The work shift is shown in dark gray; sleep time is shown in red; and free time is shown in light grey. The bar graph in the lower right shows how poorly adapted the nurses were who followed the different schedules. The night stay strategy was not included because it was used by so few nurses.
Genetics affect adaptation
The researchers also took DNA samples from all the participants to investigate the extent to which their circadian clocks influenced their adaptation. They determined the nurses’ “chronotype” – whether they are natural early risers (larks) or late risers (owls) – and which of seven well-known variations, or polymorphisms, in human circadian clock genes that each nurse possessed.
This information allowed the researchers to determine that larks adapt particularly well to day shifts and particularly poorly to night shifts, while owls do not adapt particularly well or poorly to either shift. In addition, they found that variants in one gene, called PER3, appear to have a major impact on the effectiveness of the no sleep strategy. Individuals with one variant of this genotype appear to respond more poorly than average to the strategy while those with the other genotype appear to respond better than average.
Vanderbilt Professor of Biological Sciences Carl Johnson, Alison Motsinger-Reif, assistant professor of statistics at Northern Carolina State University, Marshall Summar at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and Douglas McMahon, Vanderbilt professor of biological sciences, also contributed to the research.
The research was initially funded by Vanderbilt’s Discovery Grant program and then by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health.Contact:
David F. Salisbury | EurekAlert!
Researchers show p300 protein may suppress leukemia in MDS patients
28.03.2017 | University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
When writing interferes with hearing
28.03.2017 | Université de Genève
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
28.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
28.03.2017 | Health and Medicine
28.03.2017 | Life Sciences