Napping to Reduce Sleepiness, Fatigue and Improve Reasoning for Nursing Shift Workers
Shift work outside the normal working hours of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. is a requirement in acute and chronic care facilities that provide nursing care on a 24-hour basis. Slightly more than 30% of full-time health care workers are shift workers. Shift work sleep disorder, defined as a primary complaint of insomnia and excessive sleepiness, has been diagnosed in almost ten % of shift workers. The excessive sleepiness and fatigue nursing shift workers experience often lead to performance impairment and diminished attentiveness that may affect job productivity and patient safety. Napping is the most natural countermeasure against sleepiness. This quasiexperimental study was performed to detemine whether a 20 minute nap during the niight shift could reduce sleepiness and fatigue and improve cognitive functioning among nursing shift workers in an acute care setting. Ten study participants were randomly assigned to participate in both the control (no nap) and the intervention (nap) within the two week study. Self-testing of fatigue and sleepiness, and a timed reaction test programmed into a personal digital assistant (PDA) were performed throughout the two shifts. Results showed a trend toward a reduction in sleepiness and fatigue were reduced when nursing staff took a 20 minute nap during shift work, that was sustained through the remainder of the shift. The Advanced Practice Nurse is critical to advancing napping for shift workers because she/he can interpret, evaluate, and participate in research, create evidence-based policy, and collaborate with key stakeholders.