CNAs work an average of 12 hours a day and for at least 5 days a week. We know the importance of sleep, but we often find ourselves struggling to get it. Between calls, patients, paperwork and other responsibilities that can come up any time, nurses are faced with many challenges that make getting enough sleep difficult. Here are 10 tips on how you can avoid sleep deprivation as a nurse:
1. Get Organized
You can’t be well-rested if you are constantly running around forgetting where you left your keys, or trying to find something in a mess of things. Try using “To Do” lists to help you remember what needs to get done at the hospital and at home. The lists should prioritize tasks so that the most important things are always at the top of your list.
This way, if you find yourself with some extra time to do the tasks, you can be sure to work on those first. You can even make a system of colors for different priorities.
2. Get Your Schedule Straight
When it comes to working nights or days, never switch back and forth. Stick with one or the other, and if it’s possible to alternate weekends, do so instead of working back-to-back weekdays. Keeping your sleep schedule consistent will help you get used to sleeping during certain times, making them easier for you to fall into when at work or home.
3. Know Your Sleep Routine
Everyone has a different sleep routine before bed, but whatever yours is, make sure it’s calming enough to get you prepared for rest. If you’re used to listening to music or watching TV before sleeping, try something different like reading or exercising instead. Experiment with your pre-sleep activity until you find the perfect one for you.
4. Exercise Daily (But Not Before Bed)
Daily exercise helps many people get better sleep at night because of the endorphins released during workouts . This makes them feel less stressed and more relaxed when getting ready for bed. Try doing some light yoga or taking a walk in the early morning or late evening to benefit from the release of these ‘feel good’ hormones without disrupting your normal sleeping schedule by working out right before bed.
5. Get Up and Go to Bed at the Same Time Every Day
This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important enough to emphasize: make your sleeping schedule as consistent as possible. This will actually help your internal clock stay on a regular rhythm so you’ll be better able to fall asleep quickly when you need to. You can even set an alarm for bedtime if you have trouble remembering what time you should be going to sleep every night – because who hasn’t been there?
6. Don’t Drink Coffee After Noon
We’ve all been told that caffeine is bad for us, but sometimes we still find ourselves reaching for that extra cup of coffee or energy drink right before our shift starts at the hospital. Caffeine is a stimulant so it will be difficult for you to sleep after drinking coffee or taking caffeine pills. Try switching to decaf if you have an afternoon coffee habit, and avoid caffeinated beverages until after your shift ends.
7. Avoid Alcohol Before Bedtime
Alcohol might make you feel drowsy at first, but it can disrupt sleep later on in the night; not only that, but alcohol strongly dehydrates your body , making you even more tired the next day. It’s best not to drink alcoholic beverages before bed because they can cause problems like night terrors (waking up suddenly with feelings of panic) and increase nocturnal urination . It’s better for everyone all around if you avoid alcohol before bed.
8. Practice Relaxation Techniques Before Bed
There are many ways you can practice relaxation before bedtime, like meditating, reading a book, or practicing deep breathing exercises . What’s great about these is that they only take a few minutes to do and will help you relax your mind if you’re struggling with the thought of not being able to sleep at night. The more relaxed you are when trying to fall asleep, the better your body will be at resting.
9. Try Not to Nap Altogether
It might seem impossible for some people to make it through their shift without napping , but try your best not to nap altogether! It may be helpful in the short-term because it takes less time than a full night’s sleep to feel refreshed, but it will make it even harder for you to fall asleep at a decent hour. If you can avoid napping during the day altogether, do so and sneak in a 20-minute power nap before your shift instead if necessary.
10. Comfort Foods May Help You Fall Asleep Fast
Foods that are high in melatonin , like dairy products, cherries, cereal grains, corn, rice and soybeans , may help you easily get to sleep during times when you’re constantly being awakened by nurses or doctors . These foods have melatonin naturally occurring in them so they’ll be easy on your stomach while giving your body what it needs to rest more deeply. Get some of these healthy snacks before bed and get a better night’s sleep.
There you have it: 10 easy ways to avoid sleep deprivation as a CNA. While being a nurse is an important job, remember that you need your rest too! So take advantage of these tips for getting enough sleep at night so that you can be the best possible version of yourself for your children, grandchildren or any other little ones in your life.
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