Sleep is a major issue for many nurses and health-care workers in general. We are a very go-go profession that will not stop until our body makes us. Switching back to day shift has helped me a lot on this. Here are some things I have done to help increase my quality of sleep. These principles I have learned over the past ten years are universal for sleeping at night or during the day. I have had experience with both and here is what I have learned.
1. Keep your room as dark as possible. That includes cutting the TV off, no nightlights and cover up any digital clocks you may have in the room. Even install some black-out curtains.
2. Do not drink coffee or other caffeinated beverage within six hours of bedtime. For some of you coffee does not affect you that much, but with the caffeine, it is a good general rule to follow to allow your body to get into a deep sleep. Also, since coffee is a diuretic, it may increase your chances of having to urinate.
3. Do not drink fluids too close to bedtime and urinate before you go to bed. This will allow you to minimize your chances of waking up from having a full bladder. If you wake up once during the night (or day), it is not a big deal as long as you can go right back to sleep. However, two to three times could have a negative impact on your sleep.
4. Try not to watch TV or be on electronic devices right before going to bed. Your body needs time to adjust to going to sleep and for the melatonin to kick in. If you must use electronic device before bed, use blue-light blocking glasses. This will allow your natural circadian rhythms to occur normally.
5. Wear blue-light blocking glasses For those who work the night shift, wear them in the morning on your way home to block out blue light from the sun. Day shifters should use blue-light blocking glasses on their way home in the evening to block out the LED street lights. Here is where you can purchase some more stylish blue-light blocking glasses. Also, for those who sleep during the day, wear these anytime you have to get up while you are sleeping and may be exposed to sunlight. If you must have nightlights, use red bulbs for nightlights. They are less stimulating and easy on the eyes.
6. Make sure you finish eating three hours before you go to bed. This will allow your body to be relaxed for rest. Also, it will decrease your chances of waking up from acid reflux issues.
7. I would not exercise before bed. Whether you work day shift or night shift. It speeds up your heart rate and raises your body temperature. This makes it difficult for your body to settle down and rest.
8. Use a fan to block out noises that may disturb you. I use a Lasko floor fan. They are cheap and durable.
9. Go to bed earlier so that you have a better chance of waking up before your alarm goes off. I love it when I wake up on my own two minutes before my alarm clock is set to go off.
10. Take a hot shower before bed. I have found this relaxes me and soothes sore muscles which helps me to sleep better.
11. Keep as little clothes on as possible. I have found the fewer clothes I have on while sleeping, the more comfortable I feel. It helps your body cool down which is important for sleep.
12. Keep the room cool and have blankets available if you get chilly. It is better to be too cold than too hot while sleeping. Keep the room between 68 and 71 degrees.
13. Download the App for iPhone called Sleep Cycle. It allows you to get details on how deep you are sleeping. What I like the most is the app allows you to put in a thirty-minute window you want to wake up, and it will wake you up when you are most awake during that thirty-minute window. This allows you to wake up feeling rested and refreshed and not wanting to hit the snooze button. It also wakes you up to some soothing music. Try it out; I think you will be glad you did.
14. For supplements, you can use 1mg of melatonin, lavender essential oils on the bottom of your feet, and Natural Calm magnesium. I do not recommend medications to help you sleep. I think they should only be used in extreme cases and are way overused. Use medications after you have implemented everything on this list.
16. I would recommend against having pets sleep in the bed with you. Some pets will be still all night, and that is fine, but if they tend to need to attention during the night, I would keep them out of your bedroom.
17. Turn off your Wi-fi off at night. During the day your body is pounded with EMF(Electromagnetic Fields) from Wi-fi at work, the coffee shop, at home, and almost anywhere you go. New research is showing many ill health effects from constant exposure to EMF, and many say they feel better with a break from it at night. So try turning your Wi-fi off at night, or install an EMF blocker near your bed. Also, put your phone in airplane mode if it is near your bed, so it will not be putting out small doses of radiation while you sleep.
18. Put your electronic devices in night mode. You can put your iPhone or iPad in night mode while you are looking at it before bed. Some of the older versions of iPhone and iPad may not have this feature. To do this, on the main screen, or screen saver, swipe your finger up from the bottom and turn night shift to “on”.
There you go! Eighteen ways you can improve your sleep tonight. What are some of the ways you have been able to sleep better at night? Have you tried any of the techniques mentioned above? How did they work for you? Let me know in the comments below or message me with your questions.
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