Making the change to night shift nursing can be a serious adjustment. Twenty-five percent of nurses working nights report going 24 hours without sleep, and that can have a big impact on professional and personal health.
Whether you're seasoned or new to the night shift, these tips will help you sleep better.
5 Tips for Better Sleeping
1. Create a space that's conducive to sleep
The quality of your sleeping environment is one of the most important factors in how quickly you fall asleep and how well you sleep once you're out. The National Sleep Foundation recommends a dark, quiet space that makes you feel relaxed and comfortable. A white noise machine and blackout curtains help if you live in an apartment or sleep in a room with lots of windows.
2. Embrace the nap
While it's not as good as a night of restful sleep, a power nap can make a difference in your alertness. A 2014 study published in Biological Research for Nursing found that even short naps can improve performance and reduce sleepiness during night shift nursing. They can make you feel groggy right when you wake up, though, so make sure to schedule your power nap so that you have a few minutes before you have to be back on duty.
3. Get into a routine
Humans are hardwired to need routine. Doing the same things at the same times lets your body know what's coming next, and the same is true when it comes to sleep. Get your brain ready to power down at the same time every day by creating a short before-bed routine, such as taking a warm bath, drinking a cup of tea and reading a chapter of a book.
4. Make time for your personal relationships
Night shift nursing and sleeping during the day can leave little time for friends and family — or even yourself. But to be the best nurse you can be, you need to recharge mentally and emotionally, too. Make this easier by focusing on quality over quantity and embracing creative scheduling, such as birthday breakfasts instead of an after-dinner party.
Taking the time for your personal relationships decreases stress and ensures you're not trying to fall asleep while thinking about all the things you missed out on today or have to do tomorrow.
5. Ask the night shift nursing experts
When you want the best advice on any subject, talk to the people who have done it successfully. Your other night shift nursing coworkers already know what works and what doesn't, and they'll probably have lots of sleep tips, such as where the best napping room is on the floor and how to get the delivery person to stop ringing the doorbell when leaving packages.
If you've just moved to night shift nursing and are struggling with getting enough sleep, you're not alone. Use these tips for better sleeping to get you back on track.