Good health care is something that everyone should take seriously, but getting that care depends on medical professionals being at their best. Nurses in particular work long hours and must stay aware of what is going on with patients, because even seemingly simple mistakes can have devastating consequences. While many try to get through those long shifts with extra coffee or an energy supplement, a better solution to handling fatigue is good old fashioned sleep. Specifically, knowing how to power nap can make a big difference in a nurse's ability to keep performance and competence levels high.
What is a Power Nap?
A power nap is a short sleep period that is exercised for the purpose of refreshing a person in the middle of their work schedule and increase cognitive function and overall performance. While this energizing tactic is used in workplaces of all kinds, it is being pushed with fervor in many health care settings to the point where napping stations are provided for nurses who feel the need to be refreshed.
The attitude toward naps, despite the benefit, is still mixed. Many have a hard time shaking the idea that taking such a nap is the equivalent to "sleeping on the job." But when this sleep happens with a focused purpose the opposite is true.
How Long Should Your Power Nap Be?
Depending on how long a power nap is, it can have different levels of benefits. According to Web MD, a 15-20 minute nap can increase alertness and motor performance. A nap of 30-60 minutes can boost memory for things like following directions, and a nap of 60-90 minutes can boost the brain's ability to use creativity to solve problems.
Although longer naps can bring some additional benefits, naps that are longer than thirty minutes are more likely to leave person waking up with a feeling of inertia, or general grogginess, which can delay the second wind, which can sometimes be alleviated by a quick breath of fresh air or a small cup of coffee, or a short brisk walk,
Sometimes, even when people realize that naps are important, they don't realize that it is also important to exercise some consistency with these naps to make them most effective. Whenever possible, they should happen at around the same time in the middle of the day or shift. Also, finding a dark place, or wearing an eye mask makes the sleep more efficient by blocking out light, and having a blanket handy will keep your body temperature consistent.
How Not to Power Nap
One reason why many have been reluctant to embrace the idea of power naps in the nursing community is because many nurses have failed to follow protocol when figuring out how to power nap at work. Power naps should be planned and purposeful. Before going to take a nap, it is important to alert others of your intentions and that you will be unavailable during that time. Nurses should lobby for a designated area where they can take short naps that is away from public areas and patients. They should also make sure they are abiding by the policy of their workplace, and forgo naps in situations where they are not allowed by management
Looking for Flexibility
For those nurses who work for hospitals or clinics that are resistant to power naps, an alternative may be to look into the possibility of spending some time working as a travel nurse in order to get a different perspective. Many experienced nurses are exploring travel nursing as a way to get that perspective. Fastaff Travel Nursing offers assignments across the country that last from 4 weeks to 13 weeks with paid travel, and other benefits such as educational opportunities. Before taking an assignment, you can look into the policies of individual workplaces in order to determine their policies on power naps or if there is a designated space available in order to refresh.