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Nap a day makes doctors OK, Stanford study finds

STANFORD, Calif. - 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, MD, associate professor of anesthesia and expert on sleep deprivation and fatigue.

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 health-care workers," he said.

According to statistics on America's need for sleep, plenty of people could use a nap. More than 50 percent of Americans are sleep-deprived.

Scientific research has documented the need for naps to mitigate drowsiness and improve performance and alertness in pilots and truckers, but no previous study has looked specifically at the possible benefits for health-care workers, said the first author of the study, Rebecca Smith-Coggins, MD, associate professor of surgery (emergency medicine).

"I've been really worried about physicians," said Smith-Coggins, whose research has focused on sleep deprivation and its effects on health-care workers for the past two decades. "Everyone was complaining around me, 'I'm so tired.'"

The study's authors hope that by providing scientific data that supports the benefits of napping, more hosp
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Contact: Tracie White
traciew@stanford.edu
650-723-7628
Stanford University Medical Center
1-Nov-2006


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