Health Care Workers With Poor Sleep More Likely to Report Depression and Anxiety: Study | Health
In a recent study, researchers investigated the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on the sleep patterns of healthcare workers and the potentially damaging consequences of sleep disorders on their mental health.
The study was published in the ‘International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health’.
The new study found that healthcare workers with sleep disorders were twice as likely to report symptoms of depression as their better-rested colleagues and were 50% more likely to report psychological distress and 70% more likely to report. anxiety.
This constellation of problems could exacerbate the already overlapping crises in health care.
“Right now, a large percentage of healthcare workers are leaving their jobs because of stress, leading to a nationwide shortage of healthcare workers,” said lead author of the studies, Marwah. Abdalla, MD, assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University Vagelos College. doctors and surgeons.
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“With fewer workers on the job, the remaining staff have to work more and longer shifts, which exacerbates their sleep problems and stress,” Abdalla added.
It’s not news that healthcare workers have been under immense stress during the Covid pandemic, which Abdalla, a cardiologist at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, has seen firsthand since early 2020. As As a physician-researcher, she formed a team to study healthcare workers’ responses to stress, with particular emphasis on the effects of the pandemic on sleep.
During the first peak of the pandemic in New York City, she and her colleagues conducted a series of surveys into the sleep patterns and psychological symptoms of healthcare workers. The group’s first paper, published in August, summarized sleep data, showing that more than 70% of healthcare workers had at least moderate insomnia symptoms during the first peak of the pandemic. Although this number has declined alongside the number of Covid cases, nearly four in 10 were still suffering from symptoms of insomnia 10 weeks later when the first wave of Covid was over and work schedules returned to higher levels. normal.
Poor sleep not only affects patient care – “We know that a lack of sleep degrades the quality of care for our patients and can increase medical errors,” Abdalla said – but can also trigger symptoms of depression and depression. anxiety.
In the second study, researchers found that healthcare workers who reported poor sleep also reported higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression than healthcare workers who slept better.
Although stress, anxiety and depression can occur in well-rested people, “sleep is essential for mental health and there is a two-way relationship,” said Abdalla.
“While we don’t know from this study whether the psychological distress itself caused poor sleep or whether poor sleep resulted in psychological distress in these healthcare workers, improving sleep may reduce the problems. psychological and vice versa, ”she explained.
Abdalla added that while future studies can determine the direction of this relationship and the impact of poor sleep on the mental health of healthcare workers during the pandemic, there could be several potential interventions, from cognitive therapy. behavioral for insomnia with increased rest in the restroom. and / or the installation of nap pods for hospital staff to use during long shifts.
“For people who might be sleep deprived, encourage them to go lie down for 20 or 30 minutes,” Abdalla said.
Better sleep won’t relieve all of the extra stress healthcare workers face, but can help improve mental and physical health.
“Previous research has shown that sleep disturbances increase the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, dementia and cancer. If you are having trouble sleeping, this is a red flag,” Abdalla said.
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