Nurses who work the night shift need a restorative nap during their shifts, according to a small qualitative study presented at SLEEP 2008, the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies. The study focused on 13 critical care nurses who met with a researcher to discuss various aspects of their work schedule and environment, including their napping and non-napping experiences during breaks. Nurses in the study said that, when deprived of a nap, they felt nauseous, irritable, fatigued, and less alert. A brief nap revived many nurses. Nurses listed staff shortages, unstable patients, and emergency situations as some of the reasons they skip a nap.
According to coauthor Diana McMillan, PhD, the study findings "support the development of napping strategies that take into consideration the complex organizational, domestic, and individual demands of those frontline caregivers; their health and the health of their patients depend on it."