Sleep for Nurses and the Texas School of Sleep Medicine & Technology are presenting the Fundamentals of Sleep and Associated Disorders for Nurses, a continuing education course for nurses from varying specialty areas. The 2-day course will be held October 2 to 3, 2015, at the Texas School of Sleep Medicine & Technology in San Antonio, Texas. The program is designed to provide a broad overview of sleep and associated disorders to improve awareness and opportunities for nurses to integrate sleep into their daily practice. Special emphasis will be placed on the fields of pediatrics, cardiovascular, perioperative, endocrine, and occupational medicine.

Aim and Objectives

According to Robyn Woidtke, MSN, RN, RPSGT, CCSH, CCP, who conceived the idea for the course, the goal is to arm the frontline nurse to understand the importance of sleep health and the field of sleep medicine and recognize the signs and symptoms of sleep disorders (and refer to a sleep specialist when needed), as well as promote and advocate for the integration of sleep health for their patients.

Woidtke says, “Individuals in the practice of nursing will gain specific knowledge about how good sleep has a positive impact on the overall health and well-being of their patients and how poor sleep has negative consequences on health. In other words, the bidirectionality of the impact of sleep.”

The overall program objectives are as follows: describe normal sleep; identify the most common sleep disorders; assess the impact of sleep disorders in chronic conditions; evaluate diagnostic options for sleep disorders; recognize the different therapeutic options for obstructive sleep apnea; and consider concepts of sleep and implications to nursing practice.

“By attending this program, nurses will understand the value and importance of this issue,” Woidtke says. “As a CA BRN provider, we offer contact hours for nurses and are waiting to hear from the American Association of Nurse Practitioners for their approval as well. So, not only is this a great learning opportunity, one can fulfill many contact hours for license renewal. I believe this will be a rewarding and fulfilling program.”

Implications of Sleep in Nursing

Nurses can play a vital role in promoting sleep awareness and education, Woidtke says. “As we know, [since] many people with sleep apnea remain undiagnosed, nurses have the perfect opportunity to evaluate and refer. If we think about the affected pediatric and adolescent population, nurses have the potential to change behavior and academic outcomes,” she says.

In addition, Woidtke notes that insomnia is pervasive and impacts different areas of life though most people may not mention sleep-related issues during a visit. Woidtke says, “If nurses are taught to ask questions about sleep, we can make a difference.”

Woidtke says nurses can fill an important gap in medicine and provide sleep education and treatment. Woidtke says, “In general, there are not enough nurses who work in the field of sleep medicine. We have advanced practice nurses who are taking the burden off our finite resource of sleep specialists, but non-advance practice nurses can be care coordinators, educators, resolve PAP issues, provide counseling, etc.” Woidtke adds, “With the new CCSH credential, nurses can seek this certification to enhance their recognition in the field and in everyday practice.”

Sleep Education for a Healthy Tomorrow

With nurses in a unique position to promote sleep health among patients, Woidtke says sleep-specific education is essential for nurses. “The reason for developing this program is to provide an educational experience focused on sleep, sleep health, and associated disorders with specific implications to every day nursing practice,” she says. In the future, Woidtke would like to continue to hold this program throughout the year and hopes attendee feedback will help to provide direction for future programs.

Woidtke says, “I can envision one day programs with specific targeted areas such as pediatrics, sleep in the acute care environment, heart failure/heart health, etc. I am open to hosting web-based one hour programs as well directed at specific populations.”

Overall, Woidtke says nurses can be instrumental in creating awareness and promoting good sleep habits in every area of nursing. “I truly believe that nurses can make a huge difference in sleep health population management. Nurses are the single largest provider of healthcare services and have yet again been named as the most trusted and ethical profession by the Gallup poll,” she says. “Thus, if patients really believe that nurses are the most trusted and if nurses can influence patients thinking about the importance of sleep, we will have accomplished our goal.”

Cassandra Perez is associate editor for Sleep Review. CONTACT