STANFORD, Calif., Oct. 31 (UPI) -- Give emergency room doctors a nap, and they will do a better job and be nicer to you, according to a new U.S. study.
Emergency room physicians who were allowed a 40-minute nap showed an improved mood, a higher alertness level and the ability to complete a simulated I.V. insertion more quickly than their sleepier colleagues, Stanford researchers found in a study published in the November issue of Annals of Emergency Medicine.
"Napping is a very powerful, very inexpensive way of improving our work," said one of the study's authors, Steven Howard, associate professor of anesthesia and expert on sleep deprivation and fatigue.
To determine just how much a nap would help alleviate sleep deprivation, researchers recruited 49 subjects -- 24 nurses and 25 doctors -- who worked through the night from 7:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. in the emergency room at Stanford Hospital. They divided the subjects into two groups. One group worked straight through the night as usual, while the other subjects were allotted a nap break at 3 a.m. in the middle of their shift.
At the end of the shift, the subjects were given a series of tests of alertness. The nap-free emergency room workers showed signs of extreme fatigue such as eyelid drooping, and an inability to complete a driving simulation without crashing.