The Case for Including Sleep Content in Nursing Curricula

Sunday, 30 July 2017: 11:15 AM

Lucille C. Gambardella, PhD, APN-BC, CNE, ANEF
Positive Transitions, Lewes, DE, USA
Lyron Deputy, MSN, MBA
Delaware Sleep Disorder Centers, LLC, Wilmington, DE, USA

Introduction: The importance of sleep for overall health is at the forefront of the media and the literature. Emphasis on the effects of sleep deprivation are highlighted in vehicular accidents such as theAmtrak train crash in Hoboken, NJ (NY Times, 2016) and in overall workplace performance for a variety of employee positions. Including sleep in all assessment processes by health care providers is becoming a topic of critical discussion as a need in the educational domain of provider preparation. Nursing curricula are not an exception and as nurses students must learn the dynamics of normal sleep and sleep physiology in order to provide sleep care for health promotion and illness prevention. (Redeker & McEnany, 2011) Conducting a survey to determine the current extent of the inclusion of sleep content was implemented at the Sigma Theta Tau Internation Honor Society of Nursing Research Congress in Cape Town, South Africa in July, 2016. The survey was available in the exhibit hall during the Congress exhibit hours and participants had the option to complete the survey voluntarily and anonymously.

Evidence Based Methodology: Participants representing 12 countries voluntarily completed the survey and provided information about their home school's educational program in nursing relative to the presence or absence of sleep content. If the program included sleep content, participants were asked to indicate which course(s) included the sleep content and to list some of the content covered in the classroom/clinical setting If the program did not provide sleep content, participants were asked if sleep content should be included and in which courses it should be taught. Finally participants were asked if sleep assessment should be considered as the next vital sign. All data was analyzed and quantified using the SPSS statistical software that provides quantitative, descriptive results for the outcomes discussion.

Outcome Findings: Participants who completed surveys represented 12 countries and all levels of nursing programs including diploma, associate degree, bachelor of science in nursing and master of science in nursing. Fifty-seven percent of the faculty reports that sleep content was not included in their home school nursing curriculum. Forty-three percent of the faculty report that the curriculum did include sleep content, primarily in the Fundamentals of Nursing course (as related to rest and comfort) or in Nursing Care of Children (as related to normal growth and development). Overall 98% of faculty believed sleep content should be included in a nursing curriculum whether their program included the content or not. The courses most frequently listed as appropriate for sleep content were Fundamentals of Nursing, Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing, and Community health Nursing. Sixty percent of the faculty responding agreed that sleep could be considered as the next vital sign. However, two considerations evolved as concerns if this were to become a reality. First, how would it be measured and standardized as a quantitative measure for consistent application and second, how would it be universally taught, with evidence based criteria, in all health care provider programs, not just nursing.

Conclusions: 1. An overwhelming percentage of nursing faculty believe that sleep content should be included in the nursing curriculum of all level of programs.

2. Sixty percent of faculty believe sleep assessment as a vital sign is a plausible next step if the ability to standardize and quantify a measurement could be achieved.

3. Further exploration of this initiative from an evidence-based perspective is needed to successfully accomplish inclusion of sleep content in curricular programs of nursing and other health care  providers.