According to a recent article by ScrubsMag, Nurses working 12 hr shifts are at higher risk for Shift Work Disorder, an ailment resulting in excessive sleepiness during times you need to be awake, alert and productive. Shift Work Disorder can ultimately affect the way you function, resulting in an inability to focus, difficulty retaining information, and even physical issues related to ulcers and heart disease. Health Care professionals in general, typically work long and exhausting hours in a setting that requires energy, critical thinking and the ability to solve issues on a whim. It’s no wonder health care professionals are left feeling drained!
After a grueling 12 hr shift, you would assume falling asleep is a piece of cake, but many health care professionals struggle to shut off their brains and drift into a deep sleep. Instead, many are too wound up from the day’s activities to completely shut. If you find yourself wound up from the day’s work, use these tips to have a full night’s rest:
- Avoid Caffeine – At least 4 hours before your shift is set to end. This is important one. Once caffeine is in your system there’s not much you can do to fall asleep at home.
- Don’t go to bed on an empty stomach – Once you walk through the door and kick your shoes off, prepare something light and healthy if you’re hungry. For instance, an apple or a yogurt before bed should carry you into the next morning.
- Take a Hot Bath or Shower – we’re going to say for time’s sake, just take a nice warm shower. Warm water soothes aching muscles and helps your body relax. Use a lavender-scented body wash for an extra boost in inducing sleep.
- Read a Short Story – No electronic devices! The old fashion way is the best way to go when it comes to reading material. The light from you screen can keep you alert instead of easing your mind into rest. Pick up a book to keep at your bedside on those nights when your mind is running like a broken clock.
- Shut out the lights and cool down – Unplug any nightlights, shut off your TV and close the blinds. Immersing yourself in darkness allows you to close your eyes without any light shining through to disrupt your vision. Keep the room at a nice cool temperature, waking up in a heat sweat will leave you feeling as tired as if you didn’t get any sleep.
- Set your alarm clock
Routine is key for setting a sleep schedule that works for you. After your 12 hr shift follow the same routine before bed, aim for a set time to fall asleep, and wake up when your alarm goes off, every time. Before you know it, you’ll be getting a full nights rest, every time.
Are you a Night Warrior who battled sleepless nights and came out victorious? Share your tips below!