Self-Report Naps in Irregular Work Schedules

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Industrial Health






National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health


Few studies have examined napping in irregular work schedules such as those experienced by freight locomotive engineers. The current study examined the effect of napping in irregular work schedules on sleep length and three subjective measures: ability to go to sleep, ability to stay asleep, and a feeling of being well-rested upon awakening. One hundred and seventy-nine freight engineers completed a 14-d activity log, providing information on sleep times and subjective evaluations of sleep. The results indicated that days with naps resulted in significantly more total sleep but less sleep in the main sleep period of the day. The days with naps also resulted in somewhat more difficulty with going to sleep, staying asleep and with feeling well-rested upon awakening. It is important to note, however, that when examining the days with naps, nap length was not significantly correlated with main sleep time, ability to go to sleep, ability to stay asleep, or feeling well-rested upon awakening. These results suggest that napping may be useful when working irregular work schedules if the engineer is willing to accept a slight decrease in ability to go to sleep, stay asleep, and feeling rested.