We are aware some users might find it difficult to log into our site today. We are working on this issue and hope to have it resolved shortly.
News

Nurses laugh off advice to take a nap on night shifts

Workplace fatigue expert recommends taking power naps during night shifts to stay vigilant but nurses on Facebook dismiss idea and say it wouldn’t be allowed
A young nurse hold a hand to her mouth while yawning

Workplace fatigue expert recommends taking power naps during night shifts to stay vigilant but nurses on Facebook dismiss idea and say it wouldn’t be allowed

Nurses say it would be virtually impossible for them to take a restorative power nap during a night shift as breaks are scarce and sleeping at work is frowned on.

They were responding to a suggestion that all nursing and medical staff should be encouraged and supported to have a 20-minute nap while working nights.

Consultant anaesthetist Nancy Redfern, who has led research into fatigue among healthcare professionals, had said short naps during breaktimes were key to keeping patients and professionals safe.

However, nurses who took to

Workplace fatigue expert recommends taking power naps during night shifts to stay vigilant but nurses on Facebook dismiss idea and say it wouldn’t be allowed

A young nurse hold a hand to her mouth while yawning
Picture: iStock

Nurses say it would be virtually impossible for them to take a restorative power nap during a night shift as breaks are scarce and sleeping at work is frowned on.

They were responding to a suggestion that all nursing and medical staff should be encouraged and supported to have a 20-minute nap while working nights.

Consultant anaesthetist Nancy Redfern, who has led research into fatigue among healthcare professionals, had said short naps during breaktimes were key to keeping patients and professionals safe.

However, nurses who took to Nursing Standard’s Facebook page laughed off the idea, suggesting it was unlikely this would be allowed.

Some nurses say sleeping at work is considered a disciplinary offence

Many said it was difficult to take a break, let alone find time for a quick snooze. One nurse said there was ‘not a hope in hell’ of having a nap while another asked if the concept was a late April Fool’s joke.

‘Many wards do not have staff for night shift to takes breaks at all,’ said another. Other nurses said sleeping while at work was considered a disciplinary offence, even if it was during a break.

‘A lot of NHS trusts don’t like you sleeping on night shifts,’ said one. ‘We were threatened with our jobs if we slept on our breaks on my last ward. We had managers come round and check that we weren’t sleeping.’

One nurse suggested staff would be too stressed to sleep even if they were given the opportunity.


Evidence shows fatigue harms patient safety and quality of care while putting clinicians at risk

‘Most medical staff on shift could not wind down in 20 minutes to even fall asleep,’ she said. ‘These experts must not have ever nursed a ward full of patients while being understaffed.’

Ms Redfern has called for a new approach to night shifts amid evidence that fatigue harms patient safety and the quality of care and puts clinicians at risk – especially when driving home.

A Nursing Standard survey in 2019 found one in four nurses reported having a car accident or near-miss when driving home tired after work.

However, severe UK-wide staffing shortages mean many nurses report there is no time to take proper breaks in which they can rest or even get a drink and something to eat.


In other news

Sign up to continue reading for FREE

OR

Unlock full access to RCNi Plus today

Save over 50% on your first three months:

  • Customisable clinical dashboard featuring 200+ topics
  • Unlimited online access to all 10 RCNi Journals including Learning Disability Practice
  • RCNi Learning featuring 180+ RCN accredited learning modules
  • NMC-compliant RCNi Portfolio to build evidence for revalidation
  • Personalised newsletters tailored to your interests

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs