Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Night shift napping boosts nurses' performance and personal health


Napping during night shifts benefits nurses and their ability to care for patients, according to a study carried out in Canada.

Restorative napping - defined as a purposeful, brief sleep period - was identified by nurses as a potential strategy to improve performance, safety and personal health.

A total of 13 critical care nurses with an average 17 years’ experience were involved in the study, which was undertaken in response to concerns that nurses on night shifts are risking sleep deprivation and increased stress levels, which in turn can threaten patient safety.

Ten of the nurses stated that they nap regularly during night shifts, although the ability to nap depended on the demands of patient care and staffing needs.

It was suggested that managers of health care facilities provide a safe and comfortable resting place for nurses working night shift, and ensure that nurses do not miss breaks.





Readers' comments (29)

  • The trust that I work for disciplines nurses if they are caught having a sleep on their break, even though it is their legal break, and they are entitled to use it as they wish.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I have worked permanent nightshift for two years now and we get a 1.5 hour break which most of us use to go for a sleep. Our breaks are unpaid and since we cannot leve the building, we are within our rights to go for a sleep on our breaks. Obviously, if patient alarms go off, we do respond but we generally do have a nap. But our trust that we work for decided that this wasn't on and the Management started to do "Spot checks" to us during the night to ensure we weren't sleeping or, God forbid, using a blanket to keep us warm. I do benefit from a power nap on nightshift, makes me feel much more comfortable and competent at my job knowing that I can get a little over an hour of sleep during the shift. Our theory is, if the dayshift can powernap on their breaks then why can't we???

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • i have never understood the ridiculouness of this - why can night workers not sleep on their unpaid breaks?? it has been proven countless times that power naps are beneficial and improve safety - doctors are encouraged to nap yet nurses - heaven forbid if they do!! bleedin politics!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous | 21-Apr-2011 2:24 pm that is bloody sickening?!?!?!?! Has noone reminded your moronic managers that you are entitled to take your break as you wish?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • At the Trust I work for Night staff do not get an official break and would be disaplined if caught asleep.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • H A L L O ............... What beaks?
    We had to take our own grub if we wished to eat and as we were on our own on our nine and a half hour night shift we had to stay on the ward and grab one if we had the time. Nights were highly variable with some quiet and others hectic with only just enough time to get through all the work before the day shift arrived. Anything minor which was omitted or left for the day staff through lack of time was greatly frowned upon.

    When I trained naps would probably have resulted in the sack and I was always silently shocked when my colleagues took them. I enjoyed the quiet times and kept awake catching up with reading the NT and N. Standard until I realised I didn't really take in what I read during the night. I found as I got older, though, a nap for about half an hour or longer if the ward was really quiet between two and five was essential. Depending on the patients I had I aimed to do a round every two hours or more if necessary but if it was very quiet I would occasionally miss my 4.00 am one and sleep through and start my morning round earlier with obs etc which were for all patients normally at 6.00 am but sometimes had to be started earlier in order to finish for report at 7.00 am - as one is alone and in charge it was all very much played by ear but all the nurses in our multi-national team were competent and standards of care very high.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Only individuals, and nobody else, can determine their own body clocks and biorhythms. if this is respected, energy levels and motivation are far higher, improving production and work efficiency and a greater willingness to provide higher standards of care to patients.

    Going round inspecting what trained nurses, who are autonomous professionals in their own right, are doing is absolute nonsense. If they nap and cause acts of negligence it is their own responsibility and they have to deal with the consequences.

    What do those who go round inspecting others do in between times to stay awake? Do they take a nap in their office? Or is it because they work in administration that they are considered more responsible than others working on the wards?

    Does anyone go around inspecting the nocturnal sleeping habits of the doctors on call?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I cant understand how someone can nap when theyre on a nine and a half hour shift on their own.Whos looking after the patients??

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Everyone is LEGALLY entitled to a break!!! If we choose to sleep on that break that is our choice, and it is often necessary and healthy when on nights. It can be reasonably expected that if an emergency occurs, someone will come and wake us, and we can resume our break after it has been dealt with. But noone can tell you you CANNOT have a break at all.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Anonymous | 22-Apr-2011 12:27 pm

    Which patients?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Show 102050results per page

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.