When one of my nursing friends was on nights she used to have a sleep in one of the ward baths during her break.
We still laugh about it today as a piece of typically mad behaviour. But maybe it was not so mad after all.
In this week’s practice articles there is a discussion about research on the benefits of napping at night during night shift work.
The results suggest that restorative napping may be helpful in improving energy, mood and decision-making.
All nurses will be familiar with the struggle of staying alert and energised during a long and sometimes interminable night shift. Whenever the clocks go forward I always give a thought to the poor night staff who are having to work an extra hour.
As a newly qualified staff nurse I remember doing a pattern of nights that was seven nights on and six days off.
As the nights went on I would feel more and more exhausted and cut off from the world - living in a special night shift bubble where nothing happened other than me desperately trying to stay asleep when all my flatmates were awake and daring to talk.
In those days I had a duvet cover with a paisley pattern and sometimes during my night shift, when a wave of tiredness would hit, I could see the pattern before my eyes. I imagine that a restorative nap during the night would have helped to clear that pattern from my eyes and enabled me to function at a more optimal level.
Restorative napping could be the way forward - but let’s find a better place to have a kip than the ward bath.