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NIOSH Training for Nurses on Shift Work and Long Work Hours

Before Nights

Napping before night shift

A nap taken before the night shift is called a prophylactic nap. This type of nap is long, usually lasting for a few hours. During a long nap, the brain can progress into the deeper stages of sleep and, as a result, can reduce the buildup of pressure for sleep. This can help reduce the drop in alertness during the night shift. Consider the following research findings.

  • Nurses and nursing aides who took a 1.5-hour nap (3:30 to 5:00 p.m.) perceived significantly more alertness during the last half of their first night shift than those without the nap. 25
  • A study indicates that a 2.5-hour nap (7:30 to 10:00 p.m.) taken before a simulated night shift improved alertness during the shift, compared with no nap. 26
  • Taking a 3-hour nap (2 to 5 p.m.) produced higher alertness during a subsequent night shift, compared with no nap. 27
  • The combination of a 2.5-hour nap before a night shift and caffeine at the beginning of the shift had positive effects on alertness.4,26
Module: 7, Page 6 of 13