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Nurses need longer breaks between shifts, say researchers

  • 14 Comments

Longer breaks between shifts can help nurses’ bodies recover from the stresses of work and boost their long-term wellbeing, according to a small study from Finland.

Researchers noted that shift work can increase the risk of many diseases, including heart disease, especially if there is not enough time for key systems to recover such as those regulating heart function and blood pressure.

However, nurses often have too little time to rest, with less than 11 hours between night and morning shifts, they warned in a paper published in the journal Clinical Nursing Studies.

surveys 

The study followed 39 female nurses working shifts with an average age of 45. It set out to explore the impact of longer rest and recovery periods by measuring changes in participants’ heart rates.

Their shift patterns were changed to halve the number of breaks between shifts that were less than 11 hours long.

The nurses’ recovery from work was measured before the shift change and again one year later with heart rate recordings taken while they were on duty, off duty and asleep.

The researchers found the longer breaks resulted in “significantly better recovery” from work.

In particular, they noted positive changes during sleep that showed the body recovering from stress and relaxing.

“Our results suggest that reducing the number of short intervals between work shifts is an effective way to enhance the physiological recovery during the sleep,” said the researchers who were led by Susanna Järvelin-Pasanen.

The study, which is one of the first explorations of shift work to focus on heart rate variability during sleep, was a collaboration between the University of Eastern Finland, the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and the City of Helsinki.

  • 14 Comments

Readers' comments (14)

  • Pussy

    Researchers? Don't make me laugh! If they'd have me I could have told them and saved them all that trouble! Drivel!!!

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  • Pussy

    Researchers? Don't make me laugh! If they'd have asked meI could have told them and saved them all that trouble! Drivel!!! Mind you I spose they were paid a handsome sum with lots of recovery time so it can't all be bad.

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  • Ummm, you miss the point: you know that from your personal experience; I know that from my personal experience; but, to use the old cliché, the plural of anecdote isn't data.

    If we are to argue with politicians and managers to make any changes to practice based on adverse health effects we need more than anecdotes.

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  • "The plural of anecdote isn't data." I've not read that before. I like it.

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  • No... the NHS has developed an obsession with "evidence" as a cover for incompetence, a general inability to think and, above all, as an a***-coverer. We've got to the stage now where managers do no more than wait for, and then blindly implement, "guidelines" from someone/somewhere else.

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  • Like providing "evidence" of hand washing !!!!!!! What is the profession coming to ?

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  • Years ago we used to get a full day off after night duty not just what was left of the day after we had worked 8 hours of it and had a short sleep!

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  • Being forced to work 12 hour shifts day or night doesn't work for a lot of people either.

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  • "The plural of anecdote isn't data."

    I like it...

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  • Basketcase,how does Pussy miss the point? I think she has hit the nail on the head!!!

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