Daytime napping and its effects on alertness and short-term memory performance in shiftworkers

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Daytime napping and its effects on 145 female shiftworkers were studied by comparing the individual characteristics, alertness, and short-term memory performance of subjects who took or did not take naps. Of the subjects 56% (n = 82) took a nap before a night shift and 21% (n = 30) after a morning shift. After a morning shift, napping was more frequent among evening types and subjects living alone (not married). Before a night shift, daytime napping was not connected to individual characteristics, but the total sleep time of nappers during the preceding night was shorter than that of non-nappers. At 10.00 and at 04.00–08.00, at the end of the night shift, nappers were significantly more alert than subjects who had not taken naps. The length and timing of the daytime nap did not correlate to either alertness or performance during the following night. In a questionnaire, nappers before a night shift had less sleep disturbances than non-nappers.