Being a nurse for the last ten years has been challenging on my sleep patterns at times. There are many things you can do to ensure you get to sleep quicker and stay asleep. We all want a deeper, quality sleep to feel rested when we wake up. These techniques work if you are sleeping during the day or night. So here goes!
Maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating right and exercising consistently. Also, keep your stress levels in check as much as possible; more on all of this later in the blog.
Go to bed as soon as you get home from work. I know it is tempting to stay up and watch your favorite show, but it is essential to go to bed as soon as possible especially after night shift.
Exercise before going to work not after work. Exercise speeds up your heart rate which is exactly what you do not want if you are preparing your body for rest. It usually takes a few hours for your body to settle down from a decent exercise session.
Minimize coffee and liquids before going to bed. By keeping caffeine out of your system, it will allow you to get a higher quality sleep. Also, minimizing any liquid will allow you to cut down on the number of times you have to get up to urinate. In case you did not know, decaffeinated coffee still has some caffeine in it. Make sure you urinate before bed as well.
Minimize use of pharmaceutical sleep aids as much as possible. These are only meant to be used for a short period, so you do not become dependent on them. Instead use lavender oil on the bottom of your feet or supplemental melatonin.
Keep your room dark as possible. This means having your bedroom as dark as possible. Turn off the television and cover up the digital alarm clock. You should not be able to see your hand in front of your face. For the night shifters make sure you are using a good set of black out curtains or a quality eye mask.
Keep the room at 68 to 72 degrees. This temperature range has been shown to be the sweet spot for sound sleep. Personally, 72 degrees works for me.
Take a warm shower before bed. A warm shower releases endorphins and helps prepare your body to go to sleep by relaxing it. It also makes you feel smooth and clean which is always a plus.
Turn off the electronic devices one hour before attempting to sleep. By the light from the tv, phone or tablet entering your eyes it signals to your brain it is the middle of the day and can throw off your circadian rhythms.
Keep a quiet environment where you will not be disturbed as much as possible. This can be done by keeping electronic devices out of your bedroom. Be protective of your sleep time and let friends and family know it is not ok to wake you up unless it is important. This is a tough one for some of you, and I understand. One tip is to use a Lasko floor fan to drown out the noises that may wake you up from a deep sleep. It is loud but not irritating, and they are cheap.
This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but it is what has worked for me through the twelve hour night shifts and day shifts. I have found these techniques allow me to go to sleep faster and sleep deeper as well. Hope the helpful for your sleep tonight.
If you have other techniques that have worked well for you, I would love to hear about them in the comments below. Sleep well!