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Readers’ panel: Should nurses be allowed to take naps on night shifts?

Northumbria University and Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have been given £56,000 by the Health Foundation to research ways to support staff working night shifts. Nursing Standard readers have their say

Northumbria University and Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have been given £56,000 by the Health Foundation to research ways to support staff working night shifts. Nursing Standard readers have their say


Picture: Chris Nickerson

Beverley Ramdeen is a senior nursing lecturer in Hertfordshire 
@BeverleyRamdeen

Yes, nurses should be allowed to take naps on their breaks. When staff are tired the risk of making mistakes increases. Having a short sleep could reduce fatigue and improve nurses’ decision-making, so is good for staff well-being and patient outcomes. But to support it, staff rosters need to be looked at, local policy needs to allow staff to take naps, and the suitability of break rooms needs to be considered in terms of lighting, noise and furniture.

 

Drew Payne is a community staff nurse in north London
@drew_london

I found night shifts very tiring and always had a nap on my break when possible. It was the only way to get through them. On night shifts when I wasn’t able to take a nap I found it hard to concentrate next morning. Our body clocks are programmed for us to sleep at night – if nurses feel the need to have a sleep on their breaks, why shouldn’t they? This research is long overdue – the NHS needs to realise that staff safety equals patient safety.

 

Liz Charalambous is a staff nurse and PhD student in Nottingham
@lizcharalambou

Many nurses have caring responsibilities outside of work and do not get adequate rest before and after their shifts. This makes it even more important that they return from their breaks refreshed. If nurses want to sleep on their breaks, not only should it be allowed but they should also be actively encouraged to do so by employers and colleagues. I suspect organisational culture plays a part in nurses taking power naps being frowned on, but the pace and stress of providing healthcare services necessitates a fresh perspective.

 

Daniel Athey is a charge nurse on an acute medical unit in Sheffield 
@danjathey

A nap on a night shift is going to happen regardless of what the rules are. Why tell people they must not do something if it isn’t going to be enforced? If staff want to take a nap on a night shift let them do so, but make sure it is done sensibly – on their break, not in view of the patients and not using beds meant for patients. I can't see any harm in this. I’d argue that staff being overtired is a bigger risk.

 


Readers’ panel members give their views in a personal capacity only

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