We all know that the life of a nurse is a busy one and sleep deprivation is a real thing. Whether you’re working night shifts, day shifts, 12-hour shifts, or varied shifts, getting enough rest is essential. As a travel nurse, your shifts could change every few weeks or months and it can become difficult to make the transition. You might have been able to get away with minimal sleep in nursing school, but getting enough sleep should be a priority in your professional life. It can greatly affect your day-to-day mood and work practices. Here are a few sleep tips for travel nurses.
4 Sleep Tips for Travel Nurses
1. Invest in a mattress topper
If you’re traveling around the country to different assignments, it’s likely that you aren’t bringing your own mattress everywhere. It’s hard to control the type of mattress you’ll get in the housing provided. So, bringing a mattress topper along could be a solution. This can be one of the best sleep tips for travel nurses since no one likes to sleep on an uncomfortable mattress. There are different toppers that can offer more support or more softness depending on your preferences. They are much easier to transport than an actual mattress and can make a world of a difference.
2. Block out light
Most people sleep better when there is minimal light, so eliminating any sources of light can drastically help. Buying black out curtains could be one of the best sleep tips for travel nurses working the night shift. They’re relatively inexpensive and are easy to pack up and take with you as you travel. Eye masks are also great for blocking out light and are way smaller than curtains if you don’t feel like carting them around.
If there are other lights in the room that can be distracting such as a digital clock or TV, turn them off before bed. Most clocks have a setting to dim or turn off the display, but facing the display away from you can work just as well. People also say that TV helps them sleep, but the changing scenes and lights can prevent you from reaching REM.
3. Avoid technology before bed
Staring at a lit up screen whether it’s your smartphone, laptop, tablet, or TV keeps your brain alert. This means that doing so right before bed doesn’t allow your brain to adequately unwind and relax. You might think that you’re watching a movie or your favorite TV show to help you chill out and relax, but it’s actually doing the opposite by engaging your brain. Instead of watching TV or surfing the web, try reading or writing and avoid using your devices 30 minutes before bedtime.
4. Take naps
This might be one of the sleep tips for travel nurses that you’re already quite familiar with. Taking naps is a daily habit for many nurses, so it’s important to address the subject. If you have a case of insomnia or can get enough sleep without naps, you might want to skip this one altogether. While naps can be very beneficial, there are a few things to remember.
Don’t sleep too long
Usually, naps lasting from 10-20 minutes give the best results. Longer naps can cause sleep inertia or that groggy feeling that you get right after waking up. Sleep inertia can cause reduced performance, which certainly wouldn’t be good for your shift.
Set an alarm
If you’re going to take a nap, make sure you set an alarm. You might be worrying that you won’t wake up in time, so it can be harder to fall asleep. Setting an alarm can help limit this worry and help you nap better.
Find your “nappy place”
If you try to take a nap somewhere that is full of distractions, it probably won’t work well and you’ll become frustrated. Some nurses take short naps on their breaks if allowed, which means a nap in a hospital. If there isn’t a “sleeping room” in the hospital, bringing an eye mask and earplugs. Just make sure you don’t oversleep!