After a stressful shift, you leave work exhausted and looking forward to a good night’s sleep. But instead of drifting off into a delicious slumber, your mind races as you toss and turn, sometimes for hours. When it’s time to get up, you already feel tired.

A lack of sleep not only affects job performance, but it can also threaten your health. Insufficient sleep is linked to such chronic diseases and conditions as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and depression. The inability to fall or remain asleep is a common complaint and not just for nurses. About four out of 10 adults have trouble sleeping within a given year, according to the National Center for Sleep Disorders Research at the National Institutes of Health.

Figuring out how to get proper rest is something many nurses tackle at some point during their careers as they switch back and forth between day and night shifts. 

Whether a newly minted nurse or a seasoned one, getting enough proper rest can require more than the desire to sleep. What steps can be taken for quality shut-eye? Follow these 12 tips to sleep more soundly:

✔  Establish routines. Try to brush and floss your teeth or put on your night wear at the same time to shift your mind into sleep-mode.

✔  Keep your room dark. Consider wearing an eye-mask. Use a small night light in case you must get up during the night.

✔  Check your medications. Some prescriptions may disrupt sleep. Ask your doctor if you can take your dose earlier.

✔  Block out disturbing sounds with earplugs, a fan, or a white-noise machine.

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✔  Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine late in the day.

✔  Exercise, but do so early, at least 2 to 3 hours before bedtime. Give your body time to unwind.

✔  Stop eating a few hours before bedtime so you are not too full. Avoid drinking too much liquid.

✔  Limit bedroom activity to sleep and sex. Avoid watching TV, reading books, or surfing the Internet in bed. Make your bedroom a no electronics zone.

✔  Keep a sleep diary if sleeplessness becomes chronic. Share this record about your sleep habits with your doctor. Consider asking for a prescription for sleeping pills if nothing else works.

✔  Check your mattress and pillow. A lumpy, old mattress or pillow may no longer support you. Take the time to check out your bedding to see if it’s ideal for your body type.

✔  Take a hot bath. The drop in body temperature may relax you.

✔  Still awake? Consider taking this interactive sleep IQ quiz to learn more.

Robin Farmer
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