A Nurse’s Guide to Getting Enough Sleep

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If you’re a shift worker like a nurse or doctor, you know how challenging it can be to get the sleep you need. However, it’s important that you commit to a positive sleep schedule. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, failing to get sufficient sleep can increase your risk of many health issues, like kidney disease, diabetes, and stroke. Despite your rigorous schedule, there are steps you can take to promote healthy sleep habits. 

Nursing Academy invites you to discover some pointers below.

Commit to a regular sleep schedule whenever possible

A consistent sleep schedule is shown to attune your body and mind to a regular routine. This makes it easier to fall asleep and get up at the same time every day. As a nurse, it’s not always possible to maintain this structure, because your job may demand odd hours. If you feel overwhelmed, consider looking for a healthcare job with more regularity. 

Make sure you’re getting regular exercise

Regular exercise helps give your body and mind the rest needed to recharge. Physical activity also results in better-quality sleep. According to Johns Hopkins, research shows that exercise can help combat insomnia. If you have trouble squeezing a workout into your busy schedule, try simply walking more. Walk around your neighborhood or take a brisk stroll around the block during your work breaks.

Transform your bedroom into an oasis of sleep

If you have trouble drifting off at night, your bedroom may be to blame. Transform it into a sleep-friendly spot with some simple upgrades. Start with your mattress. If you’re waking up with back pain, your mattress may need to be swapped out. Next, invest in high-quality linens made from breathable fabric like cotton or bamboo, and take some time looking for cotton duvet covers

A white noise machine can help keep out sounds that wake you up at night. Finally, get black-out curtains, so it’s dark in your room whatever the hour. Studies suggest that light can interfere with good-quality sleep.

Cut back on caffeinated beverages

It’s no secret that caffeine can give you a jolt of energy. However, caffeinated beverages can also increase the risk of issues like anxiety and insomnia, and contribute to a rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, and other health issues. Avoid drinking caffeine before bedtime. Also, steer clear of heavily caffeinated drinks. 

Keep stress at bay with habits like meditation

If you find yourself tossing and turning at night because your brain is going a mile a minute, stress may be the culprit. Find ways to deal with stress. You might try picking up meditation, for example, The mantras of meditation, combined with deep breathing, calm both the body and mind. If you’ve never done meditation before, check out apps like HeadSpace, Buddhify, or Calm to help get you into it.

Know when it’s time to get help

If you’re still struggling with your sleep, it may be time to seek professional help. A licensed therapist can help diagnose issues that are impeding your sleep, such as untreated anxiety or general stress. They can also provide tools to help. Don’t be shy about seeking support. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points out that healthcare workers are particularly at risk for mental health problems because their jobs are so intense. Support groups can also be beneficial.

Getting your Z’s isn’t always easy if you’re a shift worker like a nurse. The above tips can help promote a healthy sleep schedule and nurture your body and mind.

Nursing Academy is a place for nurses to enhance their education, experience encouragement, and discover enthusiasm for the art and practice of nursing.

Author Cheryl Conklin is a regular contributor to NursingAcademy.com. She can be reached at Cheryl.Conklin@WellnessCentral.info