NIOSH Training for Nurses on Shift Work and Long Work Hours
Encourage Planned Naps to Relieve Sleepiness and Increase Alertness
- The Standards of Practice Committee of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has published treatment recommendations for persons having difficulty with shift work.24,25 The committee stated that instituting planned naps before and during night shift is a generally accepted strategy that reflects a high degree of clinical certainty that naps counteract work-time sleepiness and increase alertness on the job.
- In the United States there are cultural barriers to use of naps on the job, so you might not have considered their benefits, and your facility’s policies might prohibit them. However, short naps (about 15 to 30 minutes long) taken during meal breaks or other rest breaks can increase alertness during work shifts. Consider working with your organization to remove the cultural barriers to naps and move toward making use of this important strategy that improves alertness.
- Consider developing policies and systems for implementing naps during work breaks. To make use of naps, your organization would plan how nurses will be scheduled for naps and awakened from them (such as by an alarm or a designated person). Another critical element would be creating a good napping environment near the work area. Making sleep masks and ear plugs available can make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Nurses can experience a period of grogginess after awakening from a nap which poses some potential risk for making an error. See Module 7 on naps for more information about strategies to reduce grogginess on awakening.