Nurses and vampires have a lot in common. They’re up all night, they draw blood from people and they can’t remember the last time they saw the sun. Working the overnight shift can make you feel like you are one of the undead, the only remedy? A good day’s sleep. Here are a few tips to help you sleep more soundly during the daytime and recover from that grueling nocturnal shift.
Wear dark glasses on the way home from your shift to limit light exposure
Light exposure can trigger your internal clock and tell you body to wake up. To mitigate this effect, slap on a pair of sunglasses before leaving the hospital and don’t take them off until you’re tucked into bed. If anyone gives you a hard time, scare them off by baring your fangs and emitting a loud hissing noise.
Get in a light workout before your shift starts
Not only will this help to wake you up and energize you for your shift, but by the end of the ordeal your body will be all the more ready for some sound, deep sleep, regardless of time of day. However, we emphasize a light workout, don’t overdo it or you may find yourself burnt out before your shift is over or even starts.
Strategically taper off caffeine later in your shift
We know, we know, asking a nurse to avoid coffee during a shift is like asking Dracula to stay home on World Blood Donor Day. However, if you can gradually ease off the mocha-colored elixir of eternal life as your shift winds down your body will thank you when it’s finally time to get some shut eye.
Use a sleeping mask or gets some serious blinds
While a coffin might be on the extreme side, take a tip from the mythical bloodsuckers and shut out as much daytime light as possible. A sleeping mask is ideal, however, if this is uncomfortable for you, invest in some heavy duty blinds and turn your bedroom into a dark crypt of deep sleep.
Keep the temperature of your room cool, set thermostat accordingly
Research shows that cooler temperature are most conducive to good sleep, so do what you can to make your bedroom comfortably cool. Remember, if you’re going to bed earlier in the day, temperatures outside (and therefore in your home) may increase while you slumber. It might be a good idea to schedule your thermostat accordingly to maintain consistent temperature in your bedroom while you rest.
Block out daytime noise
One of the disadvantages of trying to sleep during the day is that the outside world (traffic, street noise, neighbors, etc.) tends to be noisier than during the night. Block the noise out using earplugs or a white noise machine and take yet another step towards more restful daytime sleep.
Skip the alcohol
While conventional wisdom suggests that alcohol helps you sleep (and a nice glass of merlot certainly take the edge off after a long shift in the OR, ER or other hospital departments), research has demonstrated otherwise. Alcohol may help you to fall asleep, but it won’t help you to stay asleep, as it can lead to disturbed sleep and an increased incidence of waking during a period of sleep.