Peoria, Ill.,
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Health Highlights: Sleep's impact on heart health + Addressing nursing shortage

The heart yearns for sleep. With too little or too much sleep, we can experience long-lasting health problems. 

For adults, enough sleep is 7-8 hours. Getting 6 or fewer hours of sleep has significant health risks. 

One in particular is heart disease.

Dr. Frank Han is a cardiologist with OSF HealthCare. He says heart disease isn't something that happens overnight, but over time. 

“The link mainly comes in when you don’t have enough sleep. It then triggers some of the stress hormones of the body,” Dr. Han says. “If you’re changing your sleep schedule a lot, that can mess around with your circadian rhythm.”

Another problem bad sleeping habits can lead to is an increase in inflammation in the body. Dr. Han recommends avoiding screen time before bed, and adds too much caffeine can keep you from sleeping. 

It's no secret there is a nursing shortage across the country. About 100,000 registered nurses left the workforce over the past two years due to stress, burnout, and retirements with more on the way in the next few years. 

To stem the tide, some health care organizations are offering sizable sign-on bonuses to new nurses and retention bonuses to current staff.

Nursing colleges, however, are thinking outside the box when recruiting students. This includes finding more male students, who make up only 13% of the workforce. 

Dr. Charlene Aaron, President of OSF Colleges of Nursing, says things are looking up. OSF experienced a 42% increase in enrollment in the fall 2023 semester. 

“We have more and more calls and inquiries about coming to our colleges. Enrollment is on the way up because people understand that a nursing career is a solid career. They will always have a job and are learning more and more about the variety of how they can spend their career in nursing," Dr. Aaron says. 

OSF HealthCare now offers a 12-month Accelerated Nursing Program. The program started at Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria in October 20232. 

It will be available at Saint Anthony College in Rockford this fall.

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