I’ve been a night nurse now since 2007 and have been trying all kinds of “Sleep Tricks.” After lots of real-life research, here are the top 5 ways I’ve improved sleeping during the day. It IS hard! But as proof that my tactics are working, I will submit that I have never fallen asleep at the nurses station (!) or in my car on the way home (!!):
1. I always, always, always nap before a 1st night on. I don’t know how nurses go into their 1st night without sleep, but I will say most of the nurses I see sleeping at work are the ones that don’t nap prior to a shift. (And I’m talking non-union sleeping.)
2. NO caffeine after 12 AM at work keeps me from staring at my ceiling when I get in bed at 9AM.
3. When I get home, I go straight to bed. I’ve set up my life so that all I have to do, after an obligatory shower, is crawl between the sheets. The more stimulus I have between getting home and getting in bed, the longer it takes me to zzzzz.
4. No eating right before bed. I grab something light around 5AM while at work, so when I get home, I can sleep because I’m not digesting a huge breakfast. Anytime I’ve eaten a large meal right before daytime sleep I have paid the price of endless tossing and turning.
5. On sleep days, my phones are off, I don’t answer doors, I act like it’s the middle of the night–‘cuz for me, it is! I don’t try to fit in lots of errands or activities on my sleep days. I just sleep, eat with my family and maybe work-out before headingÂ back to work.
And if none of my 5 work, I have been known to take a sleep aid–melatonin, RX aids, OTC stuff, etc–if I need some occassional help, I just do it. But usually I don’t have to because I follow my rules. The thing is, most night nurses find a way to sleep because we can’t stay on nights otherwise. Plus, sleepy nurses are NOT safe nurses!
(Oh, how I envy those union naps!)