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Care workers in nursing homes are at high risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Many care workers work in shifts, which may compromise both the quality of care they give and their working life. Taking a nap during night shifts has been proposed to ameliorate shift work-related problems, but its relationship with MSDs is not clear.To explore how MSD pain differs according to frequency of night-shift naps.A questionnaire study was conducted on 111 care workers at three nursing homes. Of 98 respondents, data from 66 shift workers (54 women) were analysed. Data on self-rated pain in multiple sites (neck, shoulder, arm, leg and low back), naps during night shifts and relevant variables were collected. Participants were categorized into three groups on the basis of frequency of night-shift naps taken during the previous month: non-nappers, <50% nappers and ≥50% nappers.Pain at all sites, with the exception of low back pain, differed significantly among the three groups. Pain scores were lowest at the arm and leg for the ≥50% nappers. Neck and shoulder pain was lower for the ≥50% nappers and the non-nappers compared to the <50% nappers.Reduced pain in the arm and leg was associated with taking a nap at least once every two night shifts among the nursing home care workers. No association was found between low back pain and night-shift naps in this sample.