Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Resolution: More Naps

Medscape Nurses reported this week on a study published in the American Journal of Critical Care about safety issues when nurses are sleep deprived.  You can read it here.

One of the suggestions is that nurses be allowed to nap.  To that I say : "duh". 

Way back in my early years, I did a travel assignment for a hospital that encouraged nurses to nap on their breaks, especially night nurses.  Nurses who worked 12 hours were given an hour break (instead of the usual half-hour break in a 12-hour shift) and were encouraged to leave the unit during this time. They used the buddy system - buddy assignments were made at the beginning of the shift and buddies worked out their break times between them.  Night shift nurses were expected to take a pillow and a blanket and find a place to sleep, there were staff lounges on another floor of the hospital and designated places on each unit.  This was before cell phones (yes, I'm that old) and usually the nurse's buddy woke them at the agreed upon time.  I only did half of my contract at that hospital on nights, but let me tell you that the naps saved me (and my patients, I'm sure).

Why are we not encouraging this practice?  If it's safer for our patients to have nurses who are well-rested, shouldn't we be providing a longer than 30-minute break for nurses to relax and recharge?  I personally am not a "power napper", but many people are.  I have so many nurse friends who say that they can sleep for 15 minutes and be completely rested. How about a place, instead of the frantic cafeteria, that nurses can use to close their eyes and nap or meditate?

Kindergarteners don't need naps (though the teacher might); nurses need naps.

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