There are a million articles about how nurses can get better sleep, but there aren’t as many articles about what a nurse can do once they finally hit the bed. Yes, we all know that we need to decrease distractions and try to relax, but what about the environment?
It is just as important to focus on the environment that you are sleeping in as well as the other sleep hygiene measures you take. Your pillow, mattress, temperature, and time spent sleeping are all just as important as anything else when trying to get solid sleep.
The jury is still out on whether a really expensive mattress is worth the money. Do you really need a mattress that costs thousands of dollars?
Maybe not. You can get mattress toppers that replicate some of the benefits of the more expensive beds. However, if you have severe joint or back problems, an expensive mattress may help.
If you can’t get a spiffy mattress, you may be able to splurge on an expensive pillow. You would be surprised how much you can spend on a pillow if you really, really try.
Some pillows, though, are not that expensive and still helpful. For instance, the “My Pillow” was recommended by several sleep groups and is relatively inexpensive.
Sound or No Sound
Some people like to sleep in complete silence, and some cannot bear the thought of the oppressive weight of the quiet. Most sleep experts recommend sleeping in the quiet, but that may not work for you.
You should find the level of quiet that does work for you. If you sleep in complete silence, it may set your mind to racing, reliving the day past or the day to come.
Sound can help muffle these thoughts and help you to get solid sleep. Whether it is a television or some sort of white noise machine, sound can be helpful for some people, so it should not be dismissed out of hand.
Cold or Hot
Once again, experts recommend that you sleep in a slightly cool room, but this may not suit you. Some people are cold all the time, and they seek out warmth wherever they go.
Although this isn’t usually the case, it could be possible, so follow your inner thermometer. Most people like to crank the air as cold as possible and snuggle deep inside their blankets to sleep soundly. Whatever works best for you is the best choice.
How long should you sleep? That can depend on when your next shift is due to start, and you may only get six hours or so.
On your days off, you may be tempted to sleep 12 to 14 hours, but this isn’t ideal, either. You miss out on family, but you also can’t “catch up” on sleep.
Experts say that sleep isn’t a bank in which you can “deposit” sleep and then withdraw it when you need it. The best way to control your sleep is to try to get the same amount every day.
This means that you should aim to get eight to ten hours of sleep every day, regardless of whether you are working or not. You may feel tired, but it is the best way to regulate your sleep.