Five wards at Scotland's largest hospital had to operate with one registered nurse on duty each.
Staff at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow experienced the shortage on Monday night.
It is an example of the severe pressure affecting health services across the country, which has intensified due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board said nurses were supported by a number of other staff.
Originally reported in the Daily Record, the shortage was described to staff in an email sent on Monday afternoon.
The email said nurse staffing levels across medicine were critical, despite attempts to seek support from bank or agency workers.
It said admin staff had been asked to stay on to offer support including answering phones and door buzzers for the rest of the week.
As well as staffing problems, the pandemic has caused more bed blocking in Scotland's hospitals and longer waits for both emergency and outpatient treatment.
Norman Provan, associate director at the Royal College of Nursing Scotland said the shortage had an impact on patient safety as well as staff wellbeing - concerns that had been raised with the health board and the Scottish government.
He added: "We're in this situation largely because of the failure of Scottish government to address the nursing workforce crisis, which has seen registered nurse vacancies reach a record high.
"Urgent action is needed to protect patient safety, address staff shortages and demonstrate that the nursing workforce is valued as a safety critical profession."
Source: BBC News, 24 July 2022