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The Caring Support Blog

Promoting Better Sleep for Healthcare Workers

February 21, 2024

Being the most sought-after professionals today, healthcare workers are essential in the global workforce, especially in the field of healthcare. Health care workers understand that, unfortunately, this reality results in longer shifts in hospitals and other healthcare facilities that simply cannot afford to operate with the same number of workers they used to anymore.

In this article, we will discuss the best tips to help healthcare workers get a good night's sleep ultimately to get their circadian rhythm back in order, reduce the impacts of psychological distress like anxiety symptoms and insomnia symptoms, enhance their cognitive performance, alertness, mindfulness, vigilance, and sleep quality, and overall improve not only their physical health but their mental health as well.

Tips for Better Sleep for Healthcare Workers

1) Understand How Sleeping Works

Solving sleep problems requires knowing how healthy sleep works. To be able to get a good night's sleep, healthcare workers need to understand that sleep patterns are easily disrupted by stress, so taking the time to relax and getting into the right mindset is a necessary step to good sleep quality.

In addition, they should learn about the negative effects of sleep deprivation so that they're motivated to sleep better. Poor sleep quality basically means short sleep and too much ease in being woken up, so it's important to really know one's sleep issues to address them accordingly.

2) Strategize During Sleep Hours

While the general population just finishes their daily activities, waits until it's nighttime, and goes to sleep, healthcare workers work on a night shift and suffer from a short sleep duration because of this. This setup means that they need to create a strategy to get the best out of the off-hours they have - specifically, they must have enough sleep to attend to their shift work.

One of the ways to make up for sleep insufficiency is darkening the bedroom (if the only hours available to sleep are during the day), getting a white noise machine, especially for chronic sleep loss, or putting a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door if necessary, are good ideas to curb sleepiness and solve your problems related to lack of sleep.

3) Get The Hours In

Typically, adults between the ages of 18 and 64 must get about 7 to 9 continuous hours of sleep per day. If this is not possible, at least 6 hours could provide a good rest if the conditions are optimal. Anything less than that is not recommended since daytime sleepiness, especially during work hours, indicates insufficient sleep at night. To prevent the likelihood of sleep disorders and to give the utmost patient care at work, it's important for nurses to get the hours in during their time off.

An alarm clock on a night table.

4) Get Used To a Routine

Since the human body tends to get used to routines, healthcare workers must do their best to wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day, even on days off. Having a predictable schedule will allow the body to rest more, get the nurses to be more productive during their work shifts, and feel less tired and sleepy overall, especially when the workers need to tend to the patients.

5) No Screen Time Before Bed

If adults tell this to their kids, maybe it is time for them to follow the same rule. This is even more important for healthcare workers who need to get better sleep because having a bright device in front of their faces will distract them by sending the wrong signal to their brains and make it harder for them to fall asleep. Also, reading the news before bed is not a good idea.

6) No Caffeine Before Bedtime

Caffeine keeps you up and gets you going - and while it's helpful for long shifts of healthcare employees at work, it mustn't be taken during downtime. Healthcare workers need to make sure there is a good period of time between their last cup of coffee or any other caffeinated drink and their time to sleep because this stimulant interferes with the process of sleep.


7) No Alcohol Before Bedtime

Most people might think that if coffee is a stimulant and alcohol is a depressant, then it must be okay to drink alcohol before bedtime. Well, no. While alcohol does have sedative properties that help drinkers fall asleep easier, it also has the potential to cause sleep disturbances or fragmented sleep patterns as the body breaks down the alcohol, according to the American Sleep Foundation. The same goes for large meals.

8) Relax Fully

Before going to bed, healthcare workers should consider taking a hot shower or bath. If they could schedule a massage, then that would be an excellent idea, too. Another alternative could be meditating or reading a few chapters of a book in bed if they've tried it before. The idea is to get in a relaxing mood that will help the body decompress and get ready to rest.

A relaxing routine at the bath tub, with a book and tea

9) Don’t Sleep Facing The Clock

Looking at the time may cause unnecessary panic, especially if your job requires you to be extremely time-conscious. In fact, some people develop so much anxiety around the time that they constantly wake up before their alarms. To avoid this, healthcare workers should turn their clocks away from their beds and set up their alarms with sounds that are not too disturbing, like a song of their preference. Also, an important recommendation is to never hit the snooze button because sleeping for a few minutes more after the alarm goes off will only confuse the brain and make them more tired.

10) Get Everybody On Board

Those at home with healthcare workers must be proactive and involved in their sleeping schedules, making sure they understand why sleep is important for them and asking them to respect their time to rest. The children shouldn't be noisy when they're sleeping, and their partners must be understanding of their shifts. They should also instruct their families not to wake them up unless there's an emergency.

A list summarizing the tips for better sleep for healthcare workers.

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About The Author
Kate Piamonte
Content Writer

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