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NIOSH Training for Nurses on Shift Work and Long Work Hours

Sleep is a Basic Need

Scientific evidence is mounting that sleep is a basic need for life, similar to the need to eat and drink.

Why do people make errors and get sick when they do not get enough sleep?

Although science does not have the full answer about why we sleep, evidence is mounting that critical functions occur during sleep that are connected with maintaining health and life. Healthy sleep is linked to feelings of wellness, good mental health and body weight, safety, and preventing infections and the development of many types of chronic illnesses.1-3 Insufficient sleep, on the other hand, is associated with a broad range of health and safety risks including premature death, obesity, vehicle crashes, worker errors, and various chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Sleep researchers warn that adequate sleep appears to be as important for living as food and water, and people should get the amount of sleep they need.

In this training program, ‘insufficient sleep,’ ‘poor sleep,’ and ‘inadequate sleep’ refer to sleep that is not long enough for the person, is poor in quality due to frequent arousals or awakenings, or is not appropriately timed with circadian rhythmsa.

aCircadian rhythms are internally driven cycles of biochemical, physiological, and behavioral processes of living beings that rise and fall across the 24-hour day. The section on Regulation of Sleep gives more information.

Module: 2, Page 3 of 25