Sleep Disorders

22 November 2006

Napping on job helps docs

Napping on the job isn't necessarily a bad thing if you're an emergency room doctor or nurse, a new study finds.

Napping on the job isn't necessarily a bad thing if you're an emergency room doctor or nurse, a new study finds.

A Stanford University School of Medicine study found that ER doctors and nurses who were allowed to have a short nap while on the night shift came back in a better mood, were more alert and were better able to complete a simulated intravenous (IV) insertion than those who didn't get a nap.

The findings are in the November issue of the journal Annals of Emergency Medicine.

A powerful, inexpensive tool
"Napping is a very powerful, very inexpensive way of improving our work," study co-author Dr Steven Howard, associate professor of anaesthesia and an expert on sleep deprivation and fatigue, said in a prepared statement.

The study included 24 nurses and 25 doctors who worked from 7:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. in Stanford Hospital's ER. The participants were divided into two groups. One group worked through the night as usual, while those in the other group were allowed a 40-minute nap at 3 am.

At the end of the shift, both groups were put through a series of tests including a 40-minute simulated car drive; a 10-minute written memory test; a computer-based IV insertion simulation; and a questionnaire designed to assess moods such as anger, confusion, depression, fatigue, tension and vigour.

Naps tied to various benefits
Nurses and doctors who had a nap had fewer performance lapses and reported more vigour, less fatigue and less sleepiness. They also did much better on the driving and IV insertion tests.

This study adds to the scientific evidence that workers can benefit from naps. Despite this proof, there's still a cultural bias - i.e., people who nap are lazy - that prevents widespread implementation of napping programmes in workplaces, Howard said. – (HealthDayNews)

Read more:
Body clock rings up afternoon nap
Sleep Centre

November 2006


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Dr Alison Bentley is a general practitioner who has consulted in sleep medicine and sleep disorders, in both adults and children of all ages, for almost 30 years. She also researches and publishes on a number of sleep-related topics both in formal research journals and lay publications including as editor of Sleep Matters, an educational newsletter on sleep disorders for doctors.

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