Nursing students are well versed on the importance of good quality sleep. After all, they study body mechanics and know that no body can function at its best without proper rest.

But if you’re a sleep deprived nursing student, you’ll probably look at those same statistics and laugh. You know a typical nursing student is probably short on sleep to some extent and sees no real alternative.

But not getting enough sleep is serious business and even impacts patient safety. Here are a few statistics that might make you think again before you pull another all-nighter.

Sleep Makes You and Your Patients Safer

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), not getting enough sleep can hinder your decision-making process and slow your reaction times. That means sleep deprived nursing students who have to make a snap decision about a patient, compute fast medication math, assess vitals, or even react to a patient stumbling, won’t be operating at peak performance. That puts your, your colleagues, and your patients in a dangerous position.

Sleep Makes You a Better Nursing Student

If your brain isn’t properly rested, it’s just not going to remember everything it needs to. That’s why you can still fail a test that you crammed all night for. Your brain and your body just can’t plow past the lack of sleep and perform well. You won’t remember the facts you’re trying to memorize and you won’t comprehend trickier concepts.

Sleep Makes You Nicer

Ever gone for a few days of less and less sleep? How’s your mood when that happens? If you notice a marked turn toward grouchiness when you’re tired, imagine what being chronically short of sleep would do to your outlook. The NHBLI asserts that not sleeping enough can lead to irritability and a difficulty reading others’ social clues. Since a nurse depends on positive and successful interactions between people, this one is especially troublesome. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America says there’s a complex relationship between stress, anxiety, and sleep. Stress and anxiety can cause sleep problems, but the reverse is also true. Sleep problems can lead to anxiety and stress.

See also
Nursing + Stress + Less Sleep = Weight Gain?

Sleep Makes You Healthier

Sleep helps your body process the day and that’s when a lot of your muscles repair themselves and your hormones regulate. That’s why rest is so important after injury. But a typically active day of a nursing student can add up to lots of little fixes your body needs to make while you’re sleeping. If it can’t repair, you could be looking at long-term issues like weight gain, chronic pain, and even diabetes.

Your body needs enough good-quality rest to perform properly. You might think you can sail through the week on four hours sleep each night, but studies show your body is paying for it in ways you might not notice right away. So do yourself a favor and consider those extra hours of sleep as necessary insurance for your health.

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil
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