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NIOSH Training for Nurses on Shift Work and Long Work Hours


Taking a nap in the workplace: is it really possible and effective?

A woman asleep in bed with her head on a pillow

You may take a coffee break or a break to smoke (even though it is not good for your health), so why not make use of a nap in the workplace to help your brain energize? Many health care providers work the night shift, during which planned napping could be effective.

  • Research indicates our brains benefit from a brief period of sleep (that is, a nap), not just a quiet period of time, to recover from fatigue and to help restore alertness.3,4 The appropriate use of napping may be a key to reducing shift-related health and safety problems.3
  • If you do not get enough good-quality sleep at night, you tend to be less alert the next day.5-9 Studies have shown that a 15- to 20-minute nap in the daytime can improve alertness.10-13
  • Day workers reported significantly higher levels of alertness in the afternoons during a week in which they had naps, compared with a no-nap week. They reported even better improvements in alertness at the end of the week when they had a short nap every day after lunch.14
  • Naps are a temporary aid to improve alertness, not a replacement for getting a regular, long period of sleep at night (or during the day).
Module: 7, Page 2 of 13