There’s no doubt about it, nurses need sleep and many do not get enough. Students in registered nurse schools and healthcare career training programs need to listen up too, because this post also pertains to you.
Nursing, a job that’s both physically and mentally exhausting, demands more on the mind and body than most other jobs. Nurses have to memorize everything from treatments, health histories, to personal preferences all while staying on their feet all day going from room to room, carrying, cleaning, and comforting their patients. Nurses are also constantly reading charts, following orders, and completing paperwork.
This rigorous, round-the-clock work takes a toll on the mind and body. More than anything, at the end of the day, a nurse’s body needs rest. Often, that’s not what they get. Many nurses continue to work even after they leave the hospital or clinic. After the official work day ends, another begins as nurses continue to provide care to their children, spouses, and parents. Some (those of you in registered nurse schools and healthcare career training programs) are students, some of you work multiple jobs. So for many nurses and students, the work never ends.
I don’t need to go into the dangerous effects that can take place when we overwork our bodies. As nurses, students, and healthcare professionals, you know this. And still, we ignore what we know and pretend not to notice signs of fatigue, burn-out, and chronic physical and emotional stress. As caretakers we instinctually put ourselves last. I can’t reiterate enough how disastrous this can be in the long-run. We can’t perform to the best of our ability while (literally) running on less than 6 hours of sleep.
I previously posted on nurses’ bad eating habits and proposed ways to eat healthily even while on the clock. But it’s not enough to merely get all our nutrients. You can’t replace sleep with food. This is also something you know all too well, you even tell your patients this! But we have to keep reminding ourselves.
People tell nurses and healthcare workers all the time that they’re superheros, and while you should have pride in what you do, remember that you’re not invincible as your patients’ gracious comments may lead you to believe. Your mind and body aren’t always strong, and they need to be if you’re going to keep caring for your patients and loved ones.
So, get some sleep!
Here are some summarized tips on from the University of Maryland Medical Center:
- Limit your naps to 30-45 minutes a day
- Avoid heavy, spicy, and sugary foods 4-6 hours before bedtime
- Exercise regularly, but not right before bed
- Find a comfortable temperature setting for sleeping and keep the room well ventilated. If it’s too hot or cold, it can keep you awake.
- Reserve the bed for sleep and sex. Let your body ‘know’ that the bed is for sleep.
- Try light snacks like warm milk and foods high in the amino acid tryptophan, such as bananas
- Practice relaxation techniques which may help relieve anxiety and reduce muscle tension.
- If you don’t fall asleep find that you get up in the middle of night and cannot get back to sleep within 15-20 minutes, do not remain in the bed “trying hard” to sleep. Get out of bed. Leave the bedroom. Do some quiet activity.
- And perhaps the hardest of all: Don’t take your worries to bed. Leave your worries about job, school, daily life, etc., behind when you go to bed. Some people find it useful to assign a “worry period” during the evening or late afternoon to deal with these issues.
There you have it, the best sleep tips I’ve found to have successfully worked (at least for me). Again, I’m not just talking to professional nurses, but students in registered nurse schools and healthcare career training programs too. Now please, not only for your own sake, but for your patients and loved ones, SLEEP.