When an individual’s physical and mental health is under constant threat, the intense stress they may be experiencing can have a huge impact on their health. Some specific effects of stress are insomnia, fatigue, and sleep deprivation.
Normal day-to-day activities, such as a hectic schedule or an overbearing boss, can cause an individual to experience anxiety, which in turn contributes to the negative effects of stress on the body and mind.
How do these effects manifest themselves? They include low moods, trouble concentrating at work/school, irritability with family/friends, eating disorders, and memory issues, such as forgetting appointments or important events from your past.
Sleep-Related Factors that Affect Nurse’s Health Issues
Stress in the workplace has increased dramatically, and a new study shows that this is affecting the sleep patterns of nurses. Statistics show that half of nurses experience insomnia when they are working late at night or at odd hours.
Sleep deprivation can also cause other health-related issues, such as diabetes, obesity, blood pressure, respiratory problems, and heart disease.
Surprisingly, most nurses working in hospitals may be sleep-deprived. Stress from patients can also contribute to poor sleeping habits in the workplace. This includes people who are frequently sick, anxious, or anxious about their medical condition or those who are unable to get out of bed so they can avoid dealing with the reality of their situation.
Symptoms of Stress that Affect Nurse’s Mental Health & Performance
Another study shows that people who are more stressed out also have less endurance. They are also more likely to be fatigued and even faint in the workplace.
The results of the study show that both sleep deprivation and stress lead to a decrease in performance. When experiencing high levels of stress, it is not possible for an individual to perform well. This could cause challenges in the workplace, such as many medical errors and a low rate of patient satisfaction.
A lack of patient satisfaction refers to how patients are treated when they are getting care from nurses or doctors.
Other factors that affect mental health and performance include motivation, physical symptoms, and emotional issues. Motivation could be a result of challenges or threats to their job, financial factors that are making it difficult for them to meet basic needs, or they could be dealing with an unwanted divorce/marriage. The cause of these factors is usually related to stress itself.
Stress At Different Performance Levels
Physical symptoms can affect work performance as well.
Some possible physical symptoms are: being exhausted, having headaches after work hours that are different from ones individuals get when they have migraines, poor digestion, skin rashes (e.g., eczema), and postural pain such as backaches or shoulder pain.
When nurses are working their way up the career ladder, moving from being a Registered Nurse to a Nurse Practitioner, for example, the levels of stress and fatigue each nurse is under can multiply.
Therefore, the effects of stress, sleep deprivation, and fatigue could hurt nurses’ health in many different ways. This can affect their career performance and their personal lives. In addition, stress at the workplace can also lead to financial loss for both patients and hospitals.
Is It Worth It?
By this point, you may be thinking, is becoming an NP worth it? You’d be forgiven for thinking that a lower-level job would come with less stress, but this isn’t entirely true.
It might be that clinical nurse specialists feel that their salaried position has more stress than any other nursing occupation. However, there are many rewards for becoming a nurse practitioner that are hard to pass up, such as higher wages and more autonomy in your career.
Possible Solutions to Improve Nurses’ Health Issues
One of the best solutions to help prevent stress is getting enough sleep. Sleeping well at night can provide you with a positive start to your day, giving you the energy to get through it. The quality of the sleep you get is also important. A quiet, dark environment is optimal for better sleep.
If your insomnia persists, a doctor may prescribe medication or perform tests to determine if there are any other health problems that could be causing your lack of sleep.
In addition, some people benefit from taking exercise before they go to bed at night.
What’s the Difference Between Sleep Deprivation vs. Being Tired?
When it comes to your health, sleep deprivation and being tired can seem like the same thing. In fact, many people may not be aware of the difference between the two.
When you are sleep-deprived, this means that you are not getting enough sleep. On the other hand, being tired is simply a subjective feeling that you are experiencing despite sleeping normally or receiving enough rest.
Although it may seem impossible to tell these two sleeping issues apart, there is a significant difference between them and their effect on your body. That said, this article takes a closer look at what they both mean and how they affect your overall health.
The Stress, Sleep, and Fatigue Response
When you are sleep-deprived, your brain is unable to function properly. This can cause mood swings and irritability that can affect your interactions with others.
The likelihood of mistakes occurring in the workplace also increases when you are feeling a lack of sleep.
Insufficient sleep can also lead to a loss of productivity, reduced focus and concentration, slower reaction times, and increased fatigue.
Sleep deprivation is especially dangerous when you are required to work in environments that require quick judgment or prompt responses, such as almost any job within the healthcare sector.
If you are experiencing sleep deprivation for any reason, it is best to take a nap during your break hours at work so that you don’t get behind in tasks or lose concentration while working on projects.
Finding Ways To Manage Your Stress and Fatigue Levels As A Nurse
Nurses are prone to stress and fatigue, and this adds to levels of sleep deprivation too. To minimize this, you need to find ways to manage your stress and fatigue.
For example, health coaches advise that going for a run before work is an excellent way of relieving stress, exercising regularly, and boosting energy levels. This can help you feel more awake throughout the day, giving you the stamina to get through your shift without making errors on the job.
Here are a few extra ways to manage your stress levels as a busy working nurse.
Be Positive About Yourself and Your Work
Positive self-talk can also be a great way of alleviating stress and fatigue, but this is not something many people do naturally during stressful situations.
Negative self-talk occurs when you think that you are not good enough or you are stressed out in a negative manner. It causes even more feelings of distress as well as potential anxiety and depression.
Meditation and Breathing Exercises
You may find it difficult to deal with the stress you receive at work and in your personal life. However, there are some effective tactics that you can use to help manage stress without feeling overwhelmed by it or losing sleep over it.
Meditation is one of these approaches, as well as yoga and other exercises that encourage relaxation and focus on breathing, all of which can also help reduce feelings of stress at the end of a long day.
If you are having trouble feeling relaxed after practicing these types of exercises, do not be discouraged. It can take time for your body to get used to what it is doing in order for your mind to follow along.
Improve Your Nutrition
If you are feeling that you are lacking energy and brainpower, your diet could be the culprit. Here are a few things to consider:
Try to include more protein in your daily meals. This food group is essential for building muscle, which will give you more energy as well as help combat fatigue.
Eat foods that contain high levels of B12, such as eggs and red meat. This vitamin can improve your control over stress and fatigue levels while also boosting both your mood and energy levels.
Magnesium is another mineral that helps improve energy levels, but this type of mineral is best sourced from dark green leafy vegetables like spinach or kale.
Have Better Sleep Hygiene
If you have difficulty sleeping, this can make you feel more tired during your shift as a nurse.
Avoid caffeine after 2 PM and try to refrain from consuming alcohol before going to bed. These products are stimulants and will keep your mind alert well after you go to sleep.
In addition, make sure you have a healthy bedtime routine that will let your body know it is time for rest. You can do this by following these steps:
As soon as you get home from work or end your shift in the hospital, take off your uniform or scrubs and relax for about 15 minutes before going to bed.
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
The best way to feel energized at work as a nurse is to ensure that you have a healthy lifestyle on the outside. This includes eating right, exercising, getting enough sleep, and reducing stress when you can.
Getting enough exercise during your leisure time is one of the easiest ways to prevent fatigue. You don’t have to become a workout fanatic in order for it to be effective. Even walking or doing some light stretching exercises will help improve your level of alertness during your shift at work.
Take Work Breaks
Working long shifts without taking a break can be harmful to both your physical and mental health. By taking regular breaks, you are helping your body get a rest from being on all day. This will also prevent you from becoming fatigued by the end of your shift as a nurse.
If you’re required to take multiple shifts back to back, it can be hard to take regular breaks. However, many hospitals are working toward making this part of their scheduling protocol in order to provide employees with the essential breaks that they need throughout the day.
Take advantage of those times when you have 30 minutes between shifts or 45 minutes before the end of your night shift.
Never Push Yourself Too Hard
Stressing yourself out will lead to fatigue and consequent sleep problems. If you are feeling a lack of energy, recognize it and take a break from the situation.
Take the remainder of your shift off and then get back to work when you feel better prepared for what is to come.
Get Plenty of Sleep
You may not be able to get the seven or eight hours of sleep that you need at night, but you can try to get as much as your schedule will allow. Take a nap during your break if you have to and set an alarm on your phone to remind you to wake up every hour.
During these short breaks, you should perform a few simple exercises and stretch out for about 15 minutes.
Get Adequate Rest Between Shifts
If you are working late at night and going into work in the morning before most people have woken up, be sure to have time the night before your shift starts where you can get some rest.
You may have trouble finding time for this at first, but if you are able to create a schedule and follow it, your body will get used to the idea of relaxing before your shift begins.
Being a nurse is stressful and can be tiring even with the best working conditions. By managing your stress levels throughout the day and taking breaks when you need them, you can prevent fatigue from becoming an issue that prevents you from doing your job well.
The most important thing is to push yourself but not too hard during shifts. Take regular breaks to get some rest and stay hydrated.
If you miss even one shift due to feeling fatigued, you could find yourself face-to-face with a fight against your employer or your health insurance company, as well as the stress of trying to explain your situation.
Do not allow this to happen to you! Instead, use the tips above instead of ignoring fatigue and trying to push through it.