At Infectious, we understand that working night shifts can be challenging for all healthcare workers. Long hours, high-stress levels, and, let’s not mention, the out-of-whack sleep schedule! We’re here to help you with five tips for improving sleep when working night shifts. 

1. Environment 

As soon you finish your shift, all you want to do is sleep. But there’s just one problem… it’s daylight outside! 

Creating a dark and quiet environment is essential when trying to sleep during the day. Blackout curtains are a great way to block out sunlight. Darkness is necessary for promoting the body’s natural production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. 

2. Sleep schedule 

Sticking to a consistent sleep schedule is another important factor in improving sleep quality for night shift nurses. It would be best to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on your days off, to help your body maintain a regular rhythm.

3. Limit caffeine 

As much as coffee helps us to get through those long shifts, it’s also interfering with your sleep. We recommend limiting caffeine in the hours leading up to sleep and limiting your overall intake throughout the day, as caffeine can stay in the body for several hours! 

4. Napping during the day 

Try to nap for at most 30 minutes at a time, and do so in the early afternoon. Napping too late in the day or too long can make it harder to fall asleep at night. A short 30-minute nap can promote feelings of alertness and reduce daytime sleepiness while also minimising the impact of night-time sleep. 

5. Night-time routine

Having a good night-time routine is vital for good sleep! Try to avoid things such as avoiding screens for at least an hour before bedtime and instead try new relaxing activities like reading, having a bath or meditation. Establishing a consistent night-time routine allows your brain to separate the day from the night, clear your mind and relax into sleep.  

February 24, 2023 — Kara de Schot