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Healthy Sleep Habits for Nurses

Written by Emily Pazel

 

With the New Year starting recently, maybe you’ve made a resolution to try to get better and more efficient hours of sleeping during the night. As a working professional in the nursing industry, it’s crucial to get a good, healthy night's sleep so you can focus and concentrate more precisely, while tending to your patients during your shift.

However, research shows that more than a third of all American adults throughout the country are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The study explained that sleeping less than seven hours per day is associated with an increased risk of developing chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and frequent mental distress.

So, if you tend to fall victim to strolling through your endless social media feed before bed, but then end up tossing and turning all night, you’ll want to continue reading this blog to learn how to undo bad habits before bed so that you can get a better night sleep.

Tips to getting a better night's sleep

Some of us (if you’re lucky), can hit the pillow and instantly fall asleep. Others, lie in bed for hours upon hours and don’t get a wink of sleep. Things such as stress from work, family responsibilities, unexpected illnesses, etc. can keep us awake at night. So, while there might be some things you can’t control that interfere with your sleep, you can learn to embrace new healthy habits that encourage a better night sleep.

Here are some helpful tips:

1. Stick to a sleep schedule

While the recommended amount of sleep for an average adult is at least seven hours, you should set aside no more than eight hours for sleep. Going to bed and getting up at the same time every day can help your body’s sleep-wake cycle become more regulated.

It’s also recommended that if you can’t fall asleep within about 20 minutes, you should leave your bedroom and do something relaxing, such as reading or listening to music until you become tired and try to fall asleep again.

2. Pay attention to what you eat and drink

This tip can be hard on some people if you’re used to eating late or snacking right before bed. It’s important that you don’t go to bed on an empty or completely full stomach, but especially a full stomach. You should avoid heavy or large meals within a couple hours of bedtime, and be sure to stay away from any beverages that contain caffeine.

It’s also a good idea to stay away from products that contain nicotine or even alcohol, as it can make you disrupt your sleep later in the night.

3. Create a restful environment

When decorating your bedroom, it’s crucial to make sure that the room is ideal for sleeping, which typically means that it’s cool, dark and quiet. When trying to fall asleep, exposure to light can make it more challenging to falling asleep, so avoid using light-emitting screens (yes, that includes your phone) right before bedtime. Purchasing some room-darkening shades, earplugs, a fan or other devices help create a relaxing environment as well.

Some experts suggest that it’s also important that you don’t use your bedroom for other things besides sleeping and being intimate with a partner; by doing this, you’re training your body to recognize what the bedroom is used for and sleep should become automatic.

4. Limit daytime naps

Although naps can be tempting, long daytime naps can interfere with nighttime sleep. So, if you choose to nap, try to limit yourself to taking one that lasts no longer than 30 minutes and avoid taking one later in the day.

If you work the nightshift, however, it’s perfectly normal to take a nap late in the day before your shift starts.

5. Include physical activity in your daily routine

Sometimes, people don’t sleep well at night because they aren’t getting enough physical activity during the day. It’s a good idea to get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, whether that’s going for a walk or going to the gym. Spending some time outside every day could prove to be helpful as well.

6. Manage your worries

Although it may seem like a great time to reflect on your day, this can cause unnecessary worries or concerns right before bedtime that can keep you up longer than you want. Try a few different stress-relief tactics, such as jotting down the thoughts and concerns you have that are keeping you awake.

It’s fairly common to experience some kind of restlessness while trying to sleep. However, if it’s an extremely common occurrence, to the point of interfering with your day-to-day actions, it’s possible that you may need to consult with your doctor to identify and treat any underlying causes that could impact your health.

If you’re a nurse working with patients on a daily basis, it’s critical to get a good night's sleep so that you can best assist them. So, what other tips and tricks are good for getting a good night’s rest?

Other Healthy Sleep Habits

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If you’re like most American’s, you probably have an adorable pet that you love and adore and might even share the bed with at night. But is it a healthy sleep habit to share the bed with your beloved dog or cat?

According to a survey of pet owners by the American Pet Products Association, nearly 50 percent of people that own dogs also allow them to sleep in their beds with them. The same survey found that 62 percent of cats sleep with their owners as well.

If you aren’t allergic to cats or dogs, researchers seem to think it’s okay for them to be in your bed. However, there gets to be a certain point when another problem arises, which how pets can often disrupt your sleep. A study released by the Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorders Center found that about half the patients in the study had a dog or cat, and 53 percent of those pet owners said their pets disturbed their sleep in some way or another.

So, it’s advisable that if you don’t sleep well at night to begin with, it’s better to just keep the pets out of the bedroom.

Other healthy sleep habits might include mediation at night before bed, which has been shown to greatly help fight insomnia and deal with stress and anxiety. It’s true that you can fall asleep better when you’re not stressed out and when there’s nothing that preoccupies your mind. Finding the opportunity to clear out your thoughts entirely and focus on your breathing could be the way to go to bed more quickly and efficiently.

Whatever the case may be, there should be a way for everyone to get a good night’s rest, especially for those working in the medical field that need to keep their minds sharp during the day (or night, depending on your shift). If for some reason you’ve exercised all your options and still can’t seem to catch a good night's rest, be sure to consult with your doctor as they may be able to help.