Resources >> Browse Articles >> On the Job


Sleeping During Your Night Shift

Sleeping During Your Night Shift

Marijke Durning | NursingLink

If we throw in the nursing aspect, according to Medical errors: the scope of the problem (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality), we may see issues that include:

Medication errors (wrong medication, wrong dose)
• Not noticing issues during assessment
• Not initiating proper interventions in response to assessments
• Not following proper isolation precautions
• Inability to follow precise details
• Mishandling of sharp or dangerous items

So, if being tired can be dangerous, why are some administrators – and some nurses – so dead set against allowing sleepy nurses to nap during their breaks?

Types of Naps

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) says there are three types of naps:

1. Planned nap – you know you will need to be awake later so you nap to store your reserves

2. Emergency nap – often a “power nap” that you take when you’re exhausted and you need to just close your eyes for a few moments

3. Habitual nap – you plan to nap at a certain time each day, whether you feel you need it or not For the most part, nurses do take planned naps before going in to work at night, but it’s the power napping that seems to be the issue here. A power nap of 30 minutes or so may be just what a nurse needs to effectively return to finish his or her shift. In fact, the NSF says, “A short nap is usually recommended (20-30 minutes) for short-term alertness. This type of nap provides significant benefit for improved alertness and performance without leaving you feeling groggy or interfering with nighttime sleep.”

The NSF also offers the following information regarding the benefits of napping:

• “Naps can restore alertness, enhance performance, and reduce mistakes and accidents. A study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness 100%.
• Naps can increase alertness in the period directly following the nap and may extend alertness a few hours later in the day.
• Napping has psychological benefits. A nap can be a pleasant luxury, a mini-vacation. It can provide an easy way to get some relaxation and rejuvenation.”

So, why is it that napping is a punishable offense, from reprimands to outright dismissal, in some facilities?


Related Reads:

NursingLink School Finder

Save time in your search for a degree program. Use NursingLink's School Finder to locate schools online and in your area.

* In the event that we cannot find a program from one of our partner schools that matches your specific area of interest, we may show schools with similar or unrelated programs.