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Nurses working extended shifts, are tired at work and sleep little likely to drive drowsy
Date:12/1/2007

rk were significantly more likely to report struggling to stay awake driving home after work. In particular, the likelihood of a drowsy driving incident was tripled when nurses experienced episodes of drowsiness at work. The risk for a drowsy driving episode was also increased when nurses reported falling asleep on duty.

Although research on the effects of chronic sleep restriction has revealed that most adults require at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night to avoid developing chronic sleep debt with its accompanying performance deficits, the hospital staff nurses in this study frequently obtained less sleep than this critical threshold. Only 20.8 percent of the participants reported obtaining at least six hours of sleep prior to every shift they worked. The risk for a drowsy driving episode increased by nine percent for each hour of sleep lost.

Given the large number of nurses who reported struggling to stay awake when driving home from work and the frequency with which nurses reported drowsy driving, greater attention should be paid to increasing nurse awareness of the risks and to implementing strategies to prevent drowsy driving episodes to ensure public safety, said Dr. Scott. Without mitigation, fatigued nurses will continue to put the public and themselves at risk.

Drowsy driving, the dangerous combination of sleepiness and driving, or driving while fatigued, while operating a motor vehicle, is becoming a growing problem in the United States.

In a sense, drowsy driving can be comparable to driving under the influence, as sleepiness results in a slower reaction time, decreased awareness, impaired judgment and an increased risk of getting involved in an accident, resulting in unnecessary deaths or injuries to innocent people. Nearly nine out of every ten police officers responding to an AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety Internet survey reported they had stopped a driver who they believed was drunk, but turned
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Contact: Jim Arcuri
jarcuri@aasmnet.org
708-492-0930
American Academy of Sleep Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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