If you've ever come close to nodding off while driving home from work, you won't find this study surprising. To evaluate the relationship between drowsy driving and nurse work hours, researchers collected data on 895 RNs who kept a log of their work hours, sleep duration, drowsy and sleep episodes at work, and drowsy driving occurrences. In the 4-week study period, almost 600 nurses reported at least one episode of drowsy driving, and 30 reported feeling drowsy while driving after every shift worked. Nurses who had shorter sleep durations, who worked at night, and who reported having trouble staying awake at work were at significantly greater risk for drowsy driving episodes.
These findings suggest that nurses should be made more aware of the risks of driving after work, researchers say, and strategies to prevent drowsy driving should be implemented. Otherwise, they warn, "fatigued nurses will continue to put the public and themselves at risk."
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Scott LD, et al., The relationship between nurse work schedules, sleep duration, and drowsy driving, Sleep, December 2007.