KUOW: Washington State University Spokane is in the midst of a series of studies of how sleep deprivation affects people in high stress, high risk jobs.

Washington State University College of Nursing researcher Lois James designed a realistic experiment to explore the risks. She recruited nurses from two Spokane-area hospitals to stop by her lab at the end of three 12s. That’s a common schedule where nurses work 12 hours on, 12 off, 12 on, 12 off, 12 on and then get four days off.

“What we did is we brought nurses into our simulation lab and tested them both on patient care scenarios and then also in a driving simulator to see how much their patient care performance, but also their driving safety was impaired,” James explained.