Shift Work and Sleep Disruption

Implications for Nurses' Health

Amy Witkoski Stimpfel, PhD, RN


Am Nurs Journal. 2020;15(11) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


The standard Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM work schedule has become a thing of the past for many workers. The global economy, expanded technology use, and competitive labor markets have dramatically changed when, where, and how work is done. The prevalence of nonstandard work hours, flexible schedules, contract work, and shift work vary by occupation, education, gender, race, and ethnicity, but the U.S. workforce is made up of approximately 157 million individuals, and estimates suggest that 20% work shifts.

Because of the ubiquity of nurses across care settings and the high-touch nature of bedside care, the health and safety ramifications of shift work on nurses and their patients is significant. When individual nurses and organization leaders understand the basic principles of human sleep, the effects of shift work, and the implications for nursing practice, they can take steps to mitigate health and safety risks.