Working as a Nurse: 4 Tips to Help You Sleep

NursingJuly 18, 2014

While working as a nurse, you may be fortunate enough to be able to work consecutive days. Sleeping would likely not be a problem if this were the case. Most likely, though, you will be hired to work days, evening or nights. Some health care facilities also have alternating shifts, such as one entire week of day shifts followed by a week of evenings. Although working as a nurse will keep you busy, you will still need to find the time to sleep.

Here are some tips on how to work sleep time in to your busy day, as well tips on sleeping soundly:

Sleep Is Inevitable

There is no way around it. When you skip out on sleep it can have disastrous effects, such as errors in patient care and medication, dozing off at important moments (like while you are driving) or even safety issues within your own house. You should strive to get eight hours of sleep — optimally, uninterrupted sleep. If people ask you to do something for them that would interfere with your sleep schedule, you should have the willpower to turn them down or reschedule. If you don't put your own health first, you won't be able to properly help others.

Attempt to Establish a Routine

Try to go to bed at the same time every night (or day, depending on your shift). Your body will work for you instead of against you if you do. After working, set aside some time to unwind, take a bath or a shower, play some soothing music and relax. Find whatever form of mental conditioning you respond to best and use it to trigger a sleep state. Once your body learns to adapt to your routine you will be more likely to get the sleep that you need.

Create a Peaceful Space

You should always maintain good sleep hygiene. Your bedroom should be a comfortable place to sleep. Invest in a good mattress and keep the room dark. You may also want to consider wearing a sleep mask if you are a nurse who works the night shift. A small fan running can provide white noise, which may help you to fall asleep. Finally, do not drink anything caffeinated for a few hours before trying to go to sleep.

Ask for Help

If you have small children, you will likely need to enlist the help of a friend or loved one to care for them. This might be a spouse, grandparent, friend or even daycare, if need be. Getting enough sleep is not a choice — your body needs to sleep in order for it to work properly!

It is often said that there are not enough hours in a day. Though this may be true, we still have to make do with the 24 that we have. Making the time to sleep while working as a nurse may take some getting used to, but it can and must be done. Make sleep a priority in your life; when you're healthy and well you are best equipped to make others healthy and well, too!