As nurses well know, working in a medical facility eventually comes with working the night shift. Most RN jobs will eventually end up being required to work a night or two, though some work nights more consistently. Working nights and sleeping during the day is the direct opposite of your natural circadian rhythm. This can take a serious toll on your health if you aren’t careful.
Working the night shift can increase your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and other health issues including depression. It’s possible to combat these effects by taking proper care of yourself and getting plenty of quality sleep. Let’s take a closer look at how to ensure you get a good night’s sleep.
How to Get Proper Sleep in Night Shift RN Jobs
Staying healthy as a night shift RN depends on how much quality sleep you get. Here are a few tips on how to get good sleep during the day.
Create a schedule that works for you and stick to it. Constantly changing your routine will keep your body from finding a new rhythm. Sticking to the same schedule will help you become accustomed to your new sleeping and waking times. Create a consistent wind-down routine before bed each day to signal to your body that it’s time to sleep.
Do Not Disturb
Get yourself set up in a “do not disturb” environment. Put your phone on silent, put a sign over your doorbell, and ask other people in your house not to bother you. Work out a schedule with your family or roommates so they know when to leave you alone.
Create a sleep-friendly space so you can sleep as long and as deeply as you need. Hang blackout curtains to keep the room dark and run a fan to circulate air and keep the room cool. Wear earplugs or run a noise machine to help block out sounds that might startle you awake.
Avoid Alcohol Before Bed
Alcohol might make you feel sleepy and might help you fall asleep faster, but it messes with your sleep quality. It can disrupt your REM sleep, making you more likely to wake up through your dedicated sleep time.
TV, tablets, and phones can cue the brain to wakefulness instead of helping you settle into sleep. Reduce or eliminate your screen time by at least an hour if not two before bedtime.
Caffeine is a stimulant used to help you stay awake and alert. It stays in your system long past the time you stop feeling its effects. Drink it earlier in your shift so when you go home you can fall right to sleep.
Good Nap Strategy
Napping during your breaks will help you feel rejuvenated and more alert as you work. Plan your laps to be little 20-minute cat naps or longer 60-90 minute snoozes. If you go longer than 20 minutes, you’ll slip into a deeper sleep. Waking yourself up in the middle of a deep sleep will make you feel groggy and poorly rested. If you plan to sleep longer, plan accordingly so you’re not in a deep sleep when you have to wake up.
Make sure to exercise each day by walking, running, or doing other physical activities. Exercise promotes better sleeping habits, just don’t do it too close to your bedtime. It can leave you wound up and unable to sleep.
Make sure to get at least 30 minutes of sunlight each day. It will help your body’s internal clock and get you the vitamin D you need to stay healthy.
Find Jobs for RNs With CynaMed
CynaMed is a healthcare staffing solution in the greater Pittsburgh area. Whether you are looking for a full or part-time position, a temporary or permanent job, we are here to help you find what you need. Contact us to learn more and check out our Ultimate Guide to Nurse Self Care.