Hospital night shift study has no clear-cut results

fewer Corona cases
Photo credit: Catharina Hospital (Studio040)

The Catharina hospital and Tilburg University conducted joint research into how to help nurses get through the night shift. Night shifts are always considered stressful for the staff but are necessary as well.

Therefore, the hospital investigated three ‘interventions’ to make night shifts more comfortable. During the trial period, special arrangements with items such as specially-coloured glasses were made. These inhibit the production of sleep hormones. A bed for power naps and healthy food were organised too. Here are the results:

“These are different than expected”, admits Marieke van Schijndel, the hospital’s ER Manage and one of the study’s initiators. Also, it is not clear if the aides individually influenced the employees’ well-being. However, a combination of the three indeed yielded positive results. This might be because people could choose what was best for them. But, the general conclusion is that no single approach works for everyone.

Healthy food

Nevertheless, Van Schijndel does not believe this is why the investigation failed. “Because when I look at the emergency room, where we paid a lot of attention to especially the food, I see the staff has really taken to that.”

“People on the night shift often feel miserable, so it is more likely to “bring on the treats”. But, if you do not do that, if you eat no sugars and fats, and less, and eat healthy instead, you will feel more energetic through the night. People have noticed that.”

After a power nap, several people reported feeling somewhat positive. “Nurses say,if I lie down for 20 minutes, I am asleep almost immediately and wake up with feeling more alert. ‘Most nurses agreed, saying ‘I sleep better during the day, wake up feeling more alert, sleep longer, and still have the energy to exercise before my night shift,” added Mariek.


The big question is, what next? Marieke is clear about that. “The numbers are not concrete enough for us to implement this throughout the hospital. However, each department may make its own choices. Childcare and emergency departments have glasses that everyone can use.”

“And, we have already told the ER staff that they may take a 20-minute power nap, as long everyone agrees. Of course, what we can look at for the entire hospital is food. For instance, soup at night. Fresh fruits instead of chocolate. Because the satisfaction and happiness of the people in the night shift are of great importance to us,” she concludes.

Source: Catharina Ziekenhuis

Translator: Seetha Chandram

Editor: Melinda Walraven

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