Educating future nurses about sleep and sleep disorders

Despite the critical need for nurses to understand sleep and sleep disorders, few undergraduate nursing schools include sleep education in their curricula, according to Associate Professor Lichuan Ye and Clinical Assistant Professor Amy Smith. Ye and Smith developed and tested a sleep awareness and sleep education program at Boston College, and reported results in the October 2015 issue of the Journal of Nursing Education.

The researchers’ 10-hour program addressed broad questions about healthy sleep and caring for patients with sleep disorders as well as nursing-specific issues such as building a healthy sleep schedule around shift work. They implemented the program in a core course offered to senior nursing students at the Connell School of Nursing in spring 2013.

The researchers quizzed students about their sleep awareness at the beginning of the course, which consisted of in-classroom teaching and discussion, guided online self-learning, and interactive simulation-based discussion. At the end of the semester, students were quizzed again, and scored an average of 20.4 percentage points higher on sleep awareness than they had before taking the course. Some 80 percent of participants said they believed sleep education was extremely important to nursing students— a belief only approximately 40 percent of students expressed at the beginning of the course. 

—Research summary by John Shakespear