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Top 10 Sleep Tips for Nurses

Top 10 Sleep Tips for Nurses

Marijke Durning | Scrubs Magazine

February 09, 2011

It’s a simple prescription really: You get up, go about your day or shift, go home, wind down and then go to sleep; repeat daily. But if you’re one of the nearly 10 percent of Americans who report having chronic insomnia or one of more than 25 percent who have occasional trouble sleeping, getting that shut-eye is anything but easy. These statistics are taken from the general population. Chances are the numbers are higher among nurses who work shift work.

In order to help you increase your chances of getting some quality sleep, which in turn will hopefully lower your stress levels (and help your heart!), Scrubs offers you 10 tips to help you get much-needed rest, whether it’s making sure your room is dark enough or ensuring you have a good mattress to do it.

1. Develop a good go-to-bed routine.
You know those bad habits you can’t get rid of? Like biting your fingernails or saying “you know” after every two words? Bad habits are hard to break, but good habits should then be easy to keep. But you have to develop the habits first. By establishing a steady bedtime routine, your body and your mind will start to expect you to go to bed and, eventually, fall asleep.

It may take a while to establish a routine that works for you, but the trick is to be consistent. Some examples are turning your television or computer off an hour before bed, reading a book, brushing your teeth and meditating before turning off your light.

2. Brush your teeth two hours before bed.
If you do your night prep two hours before bed, including brushing and flossing your teeth, you’ll be less likely to eat or drink anything within that period. Many people find it more difficult to get a good sleep if they eat or drink within two hours of lying down.

3. Exercise early in your day.
Whether your day is during the daylight or night hours, exercise early and not too close to bedtime. Your body needs time to wind down and relax before it can get ready for sleep. If you exercise too close to bedtime, you make it harder to do that.

4. Check your medications.
As a nurse, you know that not only do some medications help you sleep, but some keep you awake. If you take prescription medications, double check to see if one of the adverse effects is wakefulness. If so, you may want to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about adjusting the times you take them to work better with your sleep schedule, particularly if you are working rotations.

5. Use your bedroom only for sleeping and for sex.
In this day of being able to bring your life everywhere with you in the form of computers, netbooks and smartphones, it’s easy to forget that your bedroom should be your sanctuary. Having all the other parts of your life in there tells your body that the bedroom isn’t special. Keep your work and play out of the bedroom.

6. Make sure your room is ready for sleeping.
It may seem obvious that you need to darken your bedroom if you’re trying to sleep during the day, but if you’re having trouble sleeping at night, it could be that your room just isn’t dark enough. If you live in the city, street lights can shine a bit too brightly outside your bedroom window, or you may see the sweep of car headlights as they turn around your corner. Your best bet? Invest in blackout curtains and make it really seem like night in your room.

If you have a bright digital clock, consider covering it as well. Those things can throw off quite a bit of light in a dark room.

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