Shift work, and especially night work, is associated with poor health. Nurses, work a variety of work schedules including night work. So far, few studies have specifically investigated sleep and health among intensive care nurses.
We investigated sleep, sleepiness, fatigue, subjective health complaints, anxiety and depression in 150 intensive care nurses (convenience sample representing a response rate of 56·2%). The nurses worked at two major University hospitals in Norway and answered a questionnaire survey.
The intensive care nurses reported poorer sleep, more sleepiness, more fatigue, more anxiety and more depression compared to normative data. Poor sleep was reported by 70% and excessive sleepiness by 25% of the nurses; however, the design of the study did not allow us to determine the causes underlying these findings. Multiple linear regression analyses showed that age was positively associated with sleep problems, fatigue, subjective health complaints and anxiety and depression. In contrast, shift work experience was negatively associated with sleep problems, suggesting better coping with shift work over time.
Nurses working in intensive care units reported poorer sleep, more sleepiness, more fatigue, more anxiety and more depression compared to Norwegian norm groups. Age was positively related to these complaints, whereas shift work experience was negatively related to poor sleep. More studies are needed on strategies to improve sleep and health in nurses.