NIOSH Training for Nurses on Shift Work and Long Work Hours
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