Helping to improve your sleeping habits

To be a nurse you need to be able to remain focused, alert, and retain the ability to respond in an instant, and to do this you need to be well rested. But how do you achieve sufficient undisturbed sleep if you are always alert and focused? Getting sleep help will balance things out.

Why is sleeping so important?

Within the healthcare profession, no two days are the same and you don’t follow the generic 9 to 5 working hours of other professions. Instead, nurses can work up to 12 hours per shift, all whilst being active on their feet. Shift work has often been recognised as a primary factor in the fatigue in nurses and can lead to drug dosing errors and simple mistakes being made.

Similarly, as we tire our emotions become heightened and something which would normally be a quick fix e.g., filling out the wrong form, is now the cause of your irritation.

Sleeping is crucial to your body and mind functioning properly. As we begin to fall asleep, our heart rate decreases, and our bodies enter ‘reset mode’.  Our sympathetic nervous system – the controller of your fight of flight response – relaxes along with our brain and body, aiding in both mental and physical recovery.

For example, when you become ill with a common cold, you sleep more than usual because sleeping increases your immune system’s strength to help you recover quicker.

Improving your sleeping habits

Neil Shah, Director of the Stress Management Society spoke to Rescue Remedy and offered some physical self-help techniques to aid with sleeping:

  1. With a deep breath in, raise the shoulders towards the ears and hold them raised for a few seconds (you will be able to feel the tensions that may be accumulating in the shoulders), now take a long slow breath out and drop the shoulders down. Repeat this several times.
  2. Place the fingers of both hands at the base of your skull; apply slow circular pressures from the base of the skull to the base of the neck.
  3. Now close your eyes and relax the muscle of the face. Be aware of your eye muscles, your jaw and your forehead. Place the fingers of both hands on each side of the temples and slowly massage in a circular motion. Repeat several times.
  4. Finish by cupping your hands over your eyes and holding for several seconds. This helps to release tension and tightness in the face.

Light therapy has become increasingly popular to tackle a whole host of mental and physical obstacles e.g., seasonal affective disorders. Now, light therapy is being used to better the sleeping patterns of nurses. A study undertaken by the US National Library of Medicine evidenced that both shift and night working equated to a misalignment between the internal circadian clock and the external 24hr environment. Using light therapy can help nurses to adjust to more irregular working patterns.

Using a lightbox prior to starting your night shift will help to delay your circadian clock as your melatonin levels drop, thereby delaying your need to sleep. After your shift, avoid daylight as much as possible as it will have the same suppression on your melatonin levels, which is counterproductive when you need to sleep.

Help from a personal coach

After working in HR for 18 years, Joanna felt tired and burnt out, and her passion for well-being led her to become a qualified Health Coach. With a special interest in sleep, Joanna uses a product in her coaching which provides data on sleep quality and quantity. 

Sleep is such a massive needle mover within health, and it is often one of the first things to decline when we are physically and emotionally drained. Joanna offers free discovery call, a lifestyle assessment and 8 x 1-hour coaching sessions to help you make vast improvements to your stress levels and sleeping quality.

As a Thornbury Nursing Services nurse, you choose when and where you work. Login into Quick Nurse, search jobs through your registered location or your nearest GPS location, and book the job you want. This way, you’re able to rest when you need it and pick-up shifts when you feel back to full energy. Giving you control over both your career and your all-important sleeping.

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