Occupational health nurse Kathy Ohlmann explains why sleep is as important to health as diet and exercise.

Kathy Ohlmann head shotRegis College Assistant Professor Lawana Brown worked the nightshift as a nurse for ten years and while she has been out of the hospital since 2014, her sleep pattern “never went back to normal.” As an occupational health nurse for more than two decades, Kathy Ohlmann has seen situations like Lawana’s all too often. A consultant who serves as president of Lifeservers of Kentucky, she trains management about a range of workplace issues, but she says that “People take sleep for granted. They just put it off and assume it’s something I can do.” Nurses, particularly those whose shifts are constantly changing or regularly work overnight, downplay the importance of sleep at their peril—and, sometimes, their patients’.

For nurses who recognize that fatigue is something to lose sleep over, Ohlmann’s 2009 article, “The Cost of Short Sleep,” and this conversation are a good place to begin.