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How insomnia can affect your health care

Filed in
  • Insomnia

Thomas M. Heffron  |  Jul 10, 2015
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Doctor provides quality care

Your health care providers may know why you are sick or injured. But do they understand how you feel? It may depend on how well they slept.

A new study examined how insomnia affects empathy. It involved 97 doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health care workers.

A 28 question survey measured their empathy. What is empathy? It is the ability to understand and share another person’s feelings.

Results show that empathy was lower in health care workers who reported symptoms of insomnia. The study authors warned that decreased empathy can have negative effects on clinical care. It can increase patient anxiety. It also can lead to medical errors.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine reports that about 30 to 35 percent of people have insomnia symptoms. About 10 percent of people have a chronic insomnia disorder.

But the risk of insomnia is higher among health care workers. Their jobs often involve long hours, night shifts and high stress. All of these features can make it hard for them to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Insomnia is also a problem in other professions. It can affect anyone’s performance and mood on the job. Insomnia can reduce daytime concentration and motivation. It also can increase the risk of errors and accidents.

Healthy sleep is critical for your overall health and well-being. It may be one of the keys to quality health care, too.

Source: American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Insomnia leads to decreased empathy in health care workers. Press release. June 8, 2015.

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