Few appreciate a true, good night’s rest more than a nurse. A rare but mighty thing, sleep is pretty much always a main goal—second only, perhaps, to vacation. Which may very well mean the same thing.
That said, even nurses are guilty of a handful of habits, nursey and not-so-nursey, that can sabotage sleep. Struggling to catch those Z’s even when the opportunity presents itself every once in a blue moon? (Definitely not a full moon, because we all know what that means….) Here are some of the daily DON’Ts you may want to ditch.
1. You aren’t practicing methodical munching.
It’s hard to develop a consistent meal routine when your work schedule is far from consistent, and even further from routine. And yes, there are days when it’s absolutely necessary to dine during the wee hours of the morning, or eat dinner at 8 a.m. (see below):
However, studies show that sporadic or late-night eating can have a damaging effect on your sleep. So when you can, try to stay regular and you may enjoy a sounder sleep.
2. You snuggle up to your screen.
Your phone, as it turns out, is not a good bedfellow. Don’t even think about looking into that light while you’re gearing up for bed—any exposure to LED light, in particular, can really throw a wrench in your circadian rhythm’s groove. And, especially as a nurse, you want your rhythm to groove.
Make sure you send any of those late-night texts…well, less late, and plug your devices in to recharge before you commit to doing the same.
3. You’re letting it get too hot in your room.
We totally understand that if a cozy comforter is wrong, you may not want to be right. But the fact is, too much heat can tamper with your precious sleep. The goal is to help your body temperature hit that sweet spot so that it falls somewhere right between hot and cold—which may simply mean few layers in the blanket department.
As for room temperature, think: above 65, below 75.
4. You like your late-night lemon.
Lemon tea to help you wind down after a 12-hour shift. Lemon candles. Lemon detergent for your sheets. This all sounds pleasant, no?
Well, we hate to be the bearer of bad news (again), but late-night lemon is a lesser-known sleep no-no. The scent of citrus, while ideal for groggy-morning you, is not so ideal for peaceful-resting you, since it is known to energize and stimulate.
5. You take your splash cold.
When you’re washing your face at night, you should lean toward a warmer water temperature, since a splash of cold water to the face is essentially the sensory equivalent of “pot meets pan” next to your ear.
6. You end the day with a great read.
Don’t worry—we’re not about to tell you that a solid piece of literature is bad.
Allow us to explain.
If you’re really, really into a book, so much so that you can’t put it down—you’re probably not going to. Save the mentally stimulating page-turners for a break during your busy day, when you aren’t trying to tell your brain, “You’re getting verrrryyyy sleepy.” Because brains aren’t big fans of mixed messages.
(The same goes for your newest Netflix obsession.)
7. You sip before sleep.
A glass of wine before bed is a fickle thing. Sure, it might help take the edge off that long shift and help you doze off that much faster, but it can turn on you while you sleep by disrupting your pattern so that you wake up groggy. Like so:
8. You haven’t adopted a mighty firm stance against dust mites.
Make a habit of replacing any pillows that aren’t up to snuff. Older pillows are more likely to harbor dust mites—a major downer, especially if you suffer from allergies. If that’s the case, consider investing in an allergy cover for any new and improved purchases.
9. You sleep in (way in) on days off.
Again, a nurse’s schedule can be just as unusual as it is demanding, and catching up on sleep is a must. However, if you’re one who likes to sleep in on your off days, but it’s not entirely necessary, try and coax the early bird out in you to catch the worm. Your circadian rhythm is probably working overtime to achieve some semblance of normalcy, and it sure doesn’t need another curveball.
Nurses—how have you managed a sounder sleep? Share your secrets with us in the comments section below!