Nurses – Be wary of Sleep Apnea

August 18, 2015


Being a nurse working in a healthcare facility is often taxing and continuous shift timings can take a toll on their efficiency as well. Moreover, these patient care professionals works in rotating shifts, i.e. in days and nights, which induces signs of health problems in them. One such problem they need to look in to is Sleep Apnea.

The Risks Related To Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea disturbs all aspects of life, by day and by night. Thus, it is important to detect and treat sleep apnea before it affects in a serious way. Management of the condition improves the quality of life and general wellness.

There are 18 million Americans who have moderate to severe apnea. Moreover, 75% of patients with sleep apnea are unaware that they are affected by it. Being in a nursing profession, this could be tormenting and may become fatal if not treated properly.

If you wake up feeling tired or dozing off during the day then consider these as warning signs of sleep apnea. In sleep apnea, the brain does not get sufficient oxygen and if this happens throughout the night, the risk of having a stroke is four times greater as compared to someone without sleep apnea. It is measured by the number of times a person stops or almost stops breathing for at least 10 seconds in an hour.

For example-
  • If it is less than 5 times – Sleep Apnea is minimal
  • If it is 5 to 15 times – Sleep Apnea is mild
  • If it is 15 to 30 times – Sleep Apnea is moderate
  • If it is more than 30 times – Sleep Apnea is severe

When this happens, the oxygen level in the body drops considerably. The normal oxygen level is at least 90%, however, with sleep apnea; it can drop into the 70% range.

Generally, the treatment options for sleep apnea include –
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Losing weight if overweight
  • Less alcohol consumption
  • Setting up a routine to sleep early and wake up early
  • In severe cases, using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine at night that forces air into the lungs while the patient sleeps is advised by the doctor

Working in odd hours and shifts are generally a part of a nurse’s job profile and cannot be avoided. However, if considering and maintaining the proper balance between work and personal wellbeing, disorders like sleep apnea can be averted in most situations.

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