NIOSH logo and tagline

NIOSH Training for Nurses on Shift Work and Long Work Hours

Naps at Work (Continued)

  • Although there can be challenges to incorporating a longer nap during night shifts in many U.S. hospitals and other healthcare settings, managers may be able to strategically make use of longer naps in certain critical situations. For example, you could implement longer naps to reduce the risk for fatigue and errors when nurses are working very long shifts during emergencies.
  • While a 30-minute nap can help you to feel more alert during an 8-hour night shift, a longer nap may be more useful if you work an extended night shift of 12 hours or more. Rotating 12-hour, day-night shift systems have been increasingly used for nurses in hospitals and caregivers in nursing homes.
  • A night-shift nap of 2 to 3 hours was shown to maintain alertness and counteract fatigue during a 12- to 16-hour night shift.33-35 The long nap also is suggested to play a role in keeping the diurnal (day active) orientation among rapidly rotating nurses, making a smoother transition from a night-shift activity pattern to a day-shift activity pattern.35

Prophylactic Nap before Driving Home

Napping at your workplace after completing a work shift may be a useful strategy to increase your safety on the commute home. As demonstrated by medical interns,36 many nurses are bothered by excessive sleepiness following night shifts and are at increased risk for motor vehicle crashes.37 Although this has not been tested empirically, taking a brief nap after the night shift might help you drive home more safely.

Module: 7, Page 8 of 13