St. Paul's Collegiate
27 Sep 2017 1 Respondent
By Vanessa Peutherer
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Healthcare Workers Napping in the Workplace

Healthcare Workers Napping in the Workplace

Poor sleep health is a common problem with 25 percent of U.S adults reporting insufficient sleep or rest at least 15 out of every 30 days (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2009). Insufficient sleep is a major issue for nightshift healthcare workers. Healthcare workers can range from doctors, nurses, technicians, and ancillary staff. Although individuals can alter their ways of sleeping by having dimmed lighting, removing any distractions from the bedside and installing UV blocking curtains the insufficient sleep can lead to a change in the circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is our internal biological clock that helps regulate the timing of sleepiness and wakefulness throughout the day. Although there is some variation depending on whether you are a “morning person” or “evening person” the sleepiness we experience during these circadian dips will be less intense if we have had sufficient sleep and more intense when we are sleep deprived (Sleep Drive and Your Body Clock, 2016). A great debate is mentioned whether or not an employee can sleep / nap in the workplace during their lunch break.

Fatigue takes a huge toll on our functional capabilities, leaving us not only physically weary, but cognitively and socially less responsive to people, situations, and events. These consequences of sleep deficits can be categorized as functional, physiologic, neuropsychologic, and safety (Alspach, 2008). With fatigue and sleep deprivation being an issue on night shift healthcare workers should be able to take naps in the workplace even if it is for 15-30 minutes out of their break time. Although there may be pros and cons about this dilemma it is up to the individual to decide whether this is a cause of action that should be taken lightly upon or severe consequences should occur.

Napping in the workplace can maintain alertness, vigilance and performance and to reduce errors and accidents when taking care of individuals. If an individual is not allowed to take naps in the workplace during the break time they may fail to recognize relevant clinical findings or administer the wrong drug or drug dosage and misdiagnose patient conditions. Napping in the workplace can be means of automatic termination or disciplinary action. Disciplinary action that may occur may be 30 days of unpaid suspension, suspension or altering your schedule that way you will no longer be able to work on that specific shift anymore. Identifying employees who have napped or will nap during nightshift will increase primary and secondary prevention methods and have the potential to reduce of employees being terminated or being suspended and will reduce the costs of the employers in spending money to rehire and reorient people in the workplace. This will not only benefit the individual, but the employer as well because night shift workers may be able to stay alert and mobile and will increase alertness and productivity in the workplace.

In the workplace such as big corporate names like Nike, Google, Deloitte and many others allow employees the opportunity and some dedicate space to nap during their break time. But critics have mentioned that naps should not be allowed in the workplace and disciplinary action should be taken very seriously.

Should napping in the workplace for health care workers be allowed during their lunch


Alspach, G. (2008). Napping on the Night Shift: Slacker or Savior? Critical Care Nurse, 12-19.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, E. P. (2009, October 30). Perceived Insufficient

Rest or Sleep Among Adults. MMWR, 58(42), 1175-1179.

Sleep Drive and Your Body Clock. (2016, March). Retrieved from National Sleep Foundation:


It is proposed that napping in the workplace for healthcare workers be allowed during their lunch.