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Nurse First News Blog

5 Tips for Nurses to Get Better Sleep

Posted May 17, 2020

Being a nurse is exhilarating and quite frankly exhausting.  You work long hours on your feet and have people’s lives in your hands – no pressure, right?  Nurses need adequate and restful sleep in order to function at an optimal level. In this blog, we are going to walk through 5 tips to ensure nurses get better sleep. Follow these tips and you’ll be sleeping like a baby in no time.

Consistency is key

alarm clock on night stand

Try to keep your sleep schedule consistent throughout the week.  Your body is a well-oiled machine and needs the proper rest to be at its prime.  It is important that you go to sleep and wake up around the same time every day.  If your shift schedule changes, it’s okay! Just be sure to adjust your sleep schedule to match your new work routine.  The goal is to get 7-9 hours of sleep during a sleep cycle – whether you work the day or night shift.

Making time for adequate rest will ensure that you can sustain your career in nursing all while feeling refreshed and energized! 

Limit your caffeine

person putting hand up to refuse cup of coffee

You’re a nurse, of course, you live on all things caffeinated.  As much as you may want to grab a late afternoon cup of joe – try to refrain.  As you know, coffee or anything containing caffeine is a stimulant. 

The last thing you need when you are trying to get good sleep is extra energy and restlessness.   Depending on your shift schedule, try to limit your caffeine intake to earlier in the day or early evening (depending on if you are a day or night shift nurse). If you are looking for a boost, try a flavored tea or water to get you through the homestretch of your shift.

Put your cell phone down

woman reading book in bed with lamp on

If you are in the routine of checking the latest Facebook or Twitter updates before bed, you’ll want to break that habit asap!  According to the Alaska SleepClinic, “the brain creates a hormone called melatonin that regulates a person’s sleep and wake cycles. Too much light, as emitted from video screens, at night can affect melatonin production and fool the brain into thinking the body isn’t ready for sleep” (Hines, 2018).

No matter what shift you are working, be sure you are preparing your body for when it is time for sleep. Give yourself ample time to unwind from the day.  About an hour prior to going to bed, be sure to avoid screens.  This would be a good time to read a book, call a friend, take a bath, or possibly go for a walk.  Find something that will put you in an optimal state for rest and relaxation.

Get physical

woman walking on country road as sun is setting

Exercise seems to be the answer to almost everything.  Do you want to reduce anxiety?  Exercise.  Do you want to fit better in your jeans?  Exercise. Do you want to get better sleep? Exercise.  You see where I’m going with this.  Exercise is a crucial component to many aspects of your life, but especially helpful when getting a good night’s rest. 

According to Dr. Michael Breus, “exercise can contribute to more sound and restful sleep. Physical activity increases the time spent in deep sleep, the most physically restorative sleep phase. Deep sleep helps to boost immune function, support cardiac health, and control stress and anxiety” (Breus, 2017).  Try to find 30 minutes a day for light to moderate exercise.  This could be taking a walk, running, biking, yoga, or a workout video you love. Whatever it takes to get your body moving – find it and make it a part of your daily routine.  You’ll be dreaming of puppies and rainbows in no time.

Keep it cool

young woman sleeping in bed at night

Keeping your room cool at night will not only save you money, but it will give you better rest too!  According to Courtney Campbell, “our body temperatures naturally peak and decline during a 24-hour period, with the highest numbers occurring in the late afternoon and the lowest ones around 5 a.m. Sleep usually begins when our body temperature drops, so a colder room can encourage us to fall asleep faster” (Campbell, 2017).

You might be wondering, what is the “perfect” temperature for optimal sleep. Campbell quotes Dr.Christopher Winter, Medical Director at Charlottesville Neurology & SleepMedicine. He indicates that “our rooms should be 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit for the best sleep. If the temperature goes above 75 degrees or below 54 degrees, it can cause people to toss and turn all night” (Campbell, 2017).  Grab a blanket, snuggle up, and enjoy a restful sleep!

No one wants to feel like they’re “running on empty”, especially nurses.  Good sleep is vital for your overall health and stamina on the job.  Be sure to implement these tips in your daily life, you’ll soon notice the positive impact that good rest has in your life.

Resources:

https://www.travelnursing.com/news/features-and-profiles/how-to-sleep-better-10-tips-for-nurses/
https://www.helpguide.org/articles/sleep/sleep-needs-get-the-sleep-you-need.htm

Hines, J. (2018, August 6). What Is Too Much Screen Time? Retrieved from https://www.alaskasleep.com/blog/too-much-screen-time

Breus, M. (2017, May 22). The Benefits of Exercise For Sleep. Retrieved from https://thesleepdoctor.com/2017/05/22/benefits-exercise-sleep/

Campbell, C. (2017, August 31). Sleeping In a Cold Room May Be Better for Your Health. Retrieved from https://www.countryliving.com/life/news/a44587/sleeping-cold-room/

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