The experience of sleep deprivation for midwives practicing in the united states

Megan W. Arbour, Ira Kantrowitz Gordon, Melissa Saftner, Tanya Tanner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Introduction: Midwives in the United States who work shifts longer than 12 h have higher rates of excessive daytime sleepiness than midwives who work shifts of 12 h or less. Increased levels of excessive daytime sleepiness can lead to negative life impacts and may increase the risk for accidents and professional burnout. Objective: To describe midwives’ experiences related to sleep and sleep deprivation as a result of their work and call-shift schedules. Methods: A survey designed to explore the experience and impact of work on sleep and sleepiness among midwives in the United States was sent to members of the American College of Nurse-Midwives (N = 4358). The survey included an open-ended question about midwives’ experiences related to sleep or sleep deprivation. This analysis of the qualitative data was conducted using qualitative description and qualitative content analysis by two of the authors. Results: There were a total of 753 midwife respondents (response rate = 17%); of those 268 responded to the qualitative question about sleep. Three main themes were identified: barriers and challenges contributing to sleep deprivation; negative consequences of sleep deprivation; and strategies that helped midwives cope with or reduce sleep deprivation. Discussion: Midwives reported suffering health and safety consequences as a result of insufficient sleep, including impacts to their personal health, clinical errors, and errors in driving after an extended period awake. Nurses, midwives, physicians, and administrators are encouraged to work together to develop strategies and policies to ameliorate the risks and impacts of sleep deprivation for all clinicians, including midwives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102782
StatePublished - Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to acknowledge the members of the American College of Nurse-Midwives Sleep and Safety Taskforce.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Fatigue
  • Midwifery
  • Safety
  • Shift-work sleep disorder
  • Sleep
  • Sleep disorders

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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