Take a nap

Take a nap

This shouldn’t really be a surprise:

Give emergency room doctors a nap, and not only will they do a better job, they’ll also be nicer to you, according to a new study from Stanford University School of Medicine. The findings, to be published in the November issue of Annals of Emergency Medicine, showed improved mood, a higher alertness level and the ability to complete a simulated I.V. insertion more quickly among doctors and nurses who were allowed a short nap while working the night shift in an emergency room.

“Napping is a very powerful, very inexpensive way of improving our work,” said one of the study’s authors, Steven Howard, M.D., associate professor of anesthesia and expert on sleep deprivation and fatigue. Dr. Howard has taken the results of the study one step further and begun implementing an official napping program at the hospital at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System. “This is the first time a napping program has been instituted to try to get at the problem of fatigue in the workplace for healthcare workers,” he said.

About 20 years ago I was working in Hong Kong. I remember coming back from lunch my first day and seeing workers passed out at their desks, mouths agape. At first I thought there had been a gas attack, but then I realized they were napping. I’ve also thought naps during the workday (or worknight) are a good idea, and I’m glad the science seems to be on my side.

November 13, 2006

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