Having trouble working the night shift and actually sleeping?  I worked nights for six years, and flipping back and forth can be extremely exhausting.  I was told many different methods to sound sleeping during the daytime.  What has worked for you?

Four Tips to Improve Your Sleeping Habits as a Nurse

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So, you’ve found the role as a nurse that you were always looking for. Now all you have to do is find the quality sleep that will match the demands of your job. 

The good news for you is that there are some really handy tips for nurses of all experience levels and backgrounds that can improve sleeping habits.  You are one of the most important people that patients will ever have the fortune (and ironically, misfortune) to meet!

Make the bedroom area the best it can be for sleep

Starting things off with a fairly obvious, but often overlooked, point. Making your bedroom one that your mind and body associates with nothing but sleep will do wonders for winding down and slipping into a sound slumber.

Keep the room ambient, cool, free from distractions such as smart devices, and if you have a partner who has the tendency to snore, make sure you have prevention methods in place, like the perfect combative mattress!

Install blackout blinds if the sun tends to beam through when you’re on shifts and your sleep is all over the place.  Use apps that help induce sleep if you need to, but don’t be tempted to start scrolling on your phone…Instagram can wait until you’ve had a good sleep!

Use exercise for successful sleep

Do you exercise regularly? If the answer is no, then you should be aiming to introduce some form of physical activity into your life to help your sleep improve.

It’s understandable to think that because you’ve been on your feet at work for hours on end that you deserve downtime when you aren’t on shift. This is true to a certain extent, but exercise is always an effective way to steer you towards sleeping well.

Exercise helps your mental state (thanks to the release of endorphins), and many nurses swear by exercising before they go to bed.  Try giving it a go no less than three hours before bedtime.

Introduce yoga or Pilates into your daily routine and watch the effects work their magic on you. You can also try planking, cycling, walking swimming. Hitting the weights is appealing for lots of nurses who want to stay in shape.  Whatever you choose to do, don’t overexert yourself or you could incur an injury that leaves you off of work and also unable to exercise!

Include a diet that aids in good sleep

What goes hand-in-hand with exercise? A good, clean, healthy diet of course. What’s more, maintaining a balanced diet will also raise the quality of your sleep too.

Don’t be tempted to tuck into a monster meal before you head off to bed post-shift, however tempting that might be. If you eat a larger meal, then you should be consuming two to three hours before bedtime.

Swerve foods that will stimulate the brain, such as chocolate (sorry!), and definitely leave anything with caffeine in it until you are wide awake and functioning; not winding it down.

As far as snacks go, light carbs, like Greek yoghurt with flaxseeds will do the trick. There are plenty of good foods that can help you sleep, but aim to avoid the spicy stuff, as this can interrupt sleep by inducing gastrointestinal distress.

Get a sleep routine fully established

You will read this in all sleep advisory guides; as humans, we find comfort from pattern-like behavior. Therefore, having a sleep routine gets you one step towards the place where you want to be (asleep), making things easier as you go.

Figuring out a routine for day shifts, and a separate routine that you can slip into if you work the night shifts is essential. Variable shifts can catch out some nurses, but most are familiar with the change.  That’s not to say there are exemplary routines for optimum sleep in place.

Try taking a warm shower or bath, dimming the lighting, and doing regular things like brushing your teeth. It’s these types of actions that trigger the brain to start winding down to prepare you for bedtime.

Just remember to aim for two to three tranquil, soothing activities. Kick things off an hour prior to hitting the hay so that your mind and body have time to properly settle, and before you realize, you’ll be sleeping soundly.

Author Biography

Hi! My name is Sarah Cummings. I’ve been involved in writing informative and helpful guides for what seems like a lifetime, but I have loved every second of it. I specialize in offering advice on sleep and how to obtain the best version of it that can be achieved. I am continually striving to give more insight and share my findings, so hopefully, you can enjoy the fruits of my labors!

AuthorCourtney Tracy