What is healthy sleep? At least seven hours of restorative, comfortable rest daily. Adequate sleep is essential to human health and a necessity for nurses. The benefits of healthy sleep are well known: heightened alertness, boosted mood, increased energy, better concentration, more stamina, greater motivation, better judgment, and improved learning. Most people acknowledge that when they are sleep deprived, they feel grumpy, tired, or irritable, but is there any physical harm? Yes, the National Institutes of Health report that inadequate sleep can lead to obesity, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes and mood disorders. Additionally, driving or operating heavy machinery when drowsy is dangerous to the drowsy person as well as those around them.
Tips to improving your sleep:
- Avoid nicotine
- Keep a consistent bedtime and routine
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine prior to bedtime
- Engage in relaxing activities prior to bedtime such as prayer, warm bath, calming music, reading
- Get comfortable with a supportive mattress and adequate pillows
- Ensure your room is dark, quiet (unless you prefer soft music or white noise), and a cool but comfortable temperature
- If you’re anxiety-prone, keep a pad of paper by bed to write down your worries, then let them go until morning
- Neither starve nor stuff yourself prior to bedtime
- Exercise earlier in the day to promote better sleep
Sleep disorders such as insomnia, night terrors, somnambulating, sleep apnea, night sweats, narcolepsy, bed wetting, teeth grinding, and Restless Leg Syndrome can be quite serious and/or indicative of an underlying issue. See your health care provider for further information.
Remember sleep deprivation is widely recognized as a form of torture and interrogation technique, so don’t torture yourself! Ensure that you and your patients comply with the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (via the National Sleep Foundation) recommended 7-9 hours of daily sleep for adults.