As a nurse, you likely witness a wide range of heartbreaking, traumatic events during each shift you work. You focus on the work. You don’t think about it. Yet, when you walk in the door to your home, you may find it hard to stop thinking. It can be difficult to get to sleep, especially when the sun is coming up and your family is just starting their day.
Tips on How to Wind Down
After a night shift, your body and brain are stimulated. In most people, the brain is wired to be awake when the sun is up. That complicates your concerns even further. Consider these tips to help you get to sleep when you are home.
Slow down on the caffeine
Any stimulant you consume during your shift may keep you awake when you get home. Avoid caffeine when you can, or at least have your last cup of coffee several hours before you get off. The last few hours of your shift are often the most challenging time not to have a cup, but abstaining from brewing another pot could be the difference between getting restful sleep and lying awake.
Create a routine
When you come home from your night shift, take a shower, read some messages, and then get to bed. Creating a routine helps your body and brain recognize and anticipate what’s to come and can help ease you into a calm, relaxed state so you can fall asleep.
Create the right atmosphere
Your brain needs to be de-stimulated. To do that, you need an atmosphere that encourages sleep. It may be easier to create this than you realize. Start with a dark room. Invest in room-darkening shades to help block out the sun. Remove other types of light, such as the television and nightlights. Getting rid of the sun is essential since it contains blue light, which is a component of regulating the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.
Find a way to leave work at work
It’s hard not to focus on what happened during your night shift, especially if things didn’t go well. Yet, you must find a way to leave it at the door. Permit yourself to vent in the car or to talk it through in your mind on the way home. Once you come home, push it out of your mind for good.
It’s also important to recognize when you need help. It is not always easy to do this, but if you are dealing with traumatic experiences or facing emotional and stressful events often, reaching out for mental health help could help you unwind and relax. If you feel like you are bringing everything home with you, start here.
Try to get in exercise during your wakeful hours. That could be after you sleep for the day and before your next shift. Exercising can help regulate the body’s sleep and wake cycle. Many people find that having a good workout can help them to sleep deeper and may even contribute to more beneficial sleep each day. Remember, do this after your post-shift sleep. You don’t want to try to exercise and then go to bed.
Turn off the phone
It may be beneficial to leave your phone in the other room. Doing this may seem like a problem, especially if you feel like you could be on call. However, turning off your phone so you do not hear the notifications allows your brain to settle down for the night. You may even find that it helps you to stop thinking about what is happening at work.
Engage in a Career That is Right for You
At Eisenhower Health, we provide opportunities for nurses to create rewarding careers that allow them to do what they love. If you are struggling with the position you are in now, it may be time to consider making a move to Eisenhower Health’s California location. It’s easier than you think to create a career. Learn more about what it means to work with us.
Originally posted on 18/8/2022