What Do You Do When Co-Worker Falls Asleep on Night Shift?

  1. So, fellow night shifters, how do you handle it when someone you're working with falls asleep - not just doses off for a minute, but legitimately is in la-la land, sometimes a few times per shift? Just hypothetically, of course.
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  2. 66 Comments

  3. by   NurseCard
    Well, we all know that falling asleep on the job is a no-no.

    HAVING SAID THAT... it just depends on how busy we are.
    On my unit, we have nights where we are dead, dead,
    dead. On those nights, I'm going to get a lot less upset
    if my dear coworker dozes off a few times, than if we
    are super busy.
  4. by   caliotter3
    Not much you can do about it when the same person falls asleep every shift right in front of the house supervisor and nothing comes of it. You can guess how the talk heated up when layoffs were announced and then Sleeping Beauty kept her job while conscientious employees were let go. That was one for the books.
  5. by   Cat365
    I'd forgive if it was a slow night and it wasn't a habit. If it was habitual I'd talk to the person. After that I'd probably report it. Depends on politics and floor dynamics.
  6. by   NightNerd
    Thanks for the thoughts. I haaaaate confronting people about stuff like this, especially since sleep is freaking precious! But we are a small unit, so when this happens that makes me the only conscious RN on the floor, which kinda stresses me out. But you're right, Cat365, it doesn't have to turn into a huge thing if I can talk to them about it first.
  7. by   RNNPICU
    First step as other have said is just talk to the person. Maybe there is something you can work out. For example, if the other nurse is dosing off, perhaps suggest that she does it on her break, make sure she comes back on time from break. Does she do this out in the open, or in an area that would not be noticeable by patients or families.
  8. by   Jules A
    It happened in the open nurses station one time and I woke the person up with a loud "Dude wake up. Your snoring so loud its going to wake up the patients" That person was truly snoring but hmmmm it might be a decent strategy even if they aren't.
  9. by   Sour Lemon
    I worked on a small unit with three nurses, max, but usually two. One nurse used to fall asleep constantly ....often less than one hour into the shift and sometimes even standing up in the hall while leaning against a wall. I started by making silly comments to her, directly, but nothing changed. Eventually, I had to mention her behavior to our higher ups and she was fired. I wasn't the only one who brought it to their attention, apparently.
    I actually liked the girl on a personal basis, but it wasn't fair or safe for me to handle to entire floor while she dosed off for the majority of the shift. She drove the CNAs crazy, too ...because they would tell her about a patient's need/request and the nurse would fall back to sleep without addressing it.
  10. by   Been there,done that
    Sleeping, or giving the appearance of sleeping , is grounds for immediate dismissal.
    There is a reason for this. The sleeper is incapable of performing their duties.
    Your relationship with the sleeper is a moot point. Sleeper is sticking you with THEIR nursing responsibility.

    Why would you accept taking over their duties.. while they sleep?
  11. by   Wolf at the Door
    In California & NYC you can sleep. I would suggest coming up with brainstorming ideas that would allow night workers to take naps.
  12. by   NightNerd
    It is usually in the nurse's station, but she was breaking a sitter last night and a doc walking by the room noticed her sliding out of her chair. =/ It's not every shift, but just often enough that it's really bothering me, and especially since she was sitting at the time. I don't think whether it's slow should matter that much; I'm tired and bored too, but I get my sleep and find a way to stay awake for my shift.
  13. by   OldDude
    Intervention is a must...KY jelly on the palms, stick a phone receiver in their scrub pocket - wake em up and tell there's a call for them, tape a sign on their back, or cotton balls, or a kerlix tail. Let your imagination be your guide.
  14. by   ItsThatJenGirl
    Quote from NightNerd
    It is usually in the nurse's station, but she was breaking a sitter last night and a doc walking by the room noticed her sliding out of her chair. =/ It's not every shift, but just often enough that it's really bothering me, and especially since she was sitting at the time. I don't think whether it's slow should matter that much; I'm tired and bored too, but I get my sleep and find a way to stay awake for my shift.
    Maybe approach it from a place of concern? Mention the Doctor seeing her sleep and frame it like you want to help her stop sleeping so she won't get fired.

    Good luck.

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