Night Shift Napping Makes Better Nurses


Posted to Nursing, Nursing Jobs

Napping on the job used to be cause for immediate dismissal in most professions, but nurses on the night shift can become better, healthier nurses if they take the occasional nap.

In a study conducted by the University of Manitobain Winnipeg, researchers identified several key points that support the importance of a nightly snooze by the nursing staff. Taking into account a number of variables — work schedules, environment, nap vs. non-napping experiences, perceptions of the subject matter, barriers to napping, and individual preferences — interviewers talked to 13 critical care nurses, some of whom preferred to nap, and others who found it simply didn’t fit with their nursing practice.

Wendy Fallis, Ph.D., RN, the co-lead investigator, reported that the nurses who preferred to take a nap felt “revived and alert” after a short rest. Twenty to 30 minutes was all that was needed to re-energize them, and when on a critical care unit, dealing with high risk patients and high risk medications, focus is paramount to patient care. “Napping seems to really help with that,” stated Fallis.

Researchers also found an added benefit for post-patient care: nurses who napped were more alert while driving home. This finding is an important safety concern as reports of sleepy drivers cloud the headlines.

Researchers also found that nurses naturally place their patients’ needs ahead of their own when it comes making time for a nap. Some would not nap if the unit was short-staffed and busy. Others wouldn’t sleep if only inexperienced staff, not as knowledgeable in an emergency, would remain on the unit.

Nurses reported that not every facility they’d ever worked in encouraged naps or had places set aside for nurses to rest. Others, such as Ohio’s Summa Akron City Hospital, provide recliners and sofas for nurses on the critical care units and encourage the day and night shifts to rest. Many hospitals only have sleeping rooms for physicians, however. Fallis believes that during remodeling projects, facilities should take into account nurses’ need to rest.

Researchers state further study is needed on the benefits and drawbacks of naps for nursing staff; for now, their study has brought more attention to this important aspect of nursing practice.

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