Travel nursing jobs come with many exciting and wonderful experiences but can also produce some hang-ups. One issue you may face is sleep disruption. Disruptive sleep patterns may stem from changing homes, time zones, work shifts, and environments. A lack of sleep can be challenging to navigate, so we've gathered tips on how to create healthy sleeping patterns while you're on contract.
Preparing Your Bedroom
The first step in getting restful sleep is to get your bedroom ready. A cool, dark, and quiet environment is most helpful when improving your sleep habits, and it's not too difficult to achieve. Try adding light-blocking curtains or using a sleep mask if there's too much ambient light in your room. Use a fan to cool the room and help circulate the air. If a ceiling fan isn’t doing the trick - or there isn't one available - adding a rotating floor fan into the room may help, and can double as a white noise machine. Go ahead and start cooling the bedroom while you are getting ready for bed. If you aren't using a floor fan, you may want to invest in a white noise machine to drown out noisy interruptions, such as cars on a highway or loud music. You can find lots of inexpensive, portable white noise machines on Amazon or at big box stores. Prepping the bedroom to be a cool, dark, and quiet environment provides the perfect ambiance for a great night’s sleep!
Setting a Routine
Preparing a nighttime routine can be crucial for achieving a better snooze. Having a stellar nighttime routine is a great start, but habits you establish in the daytime can be important as well. Try to have a set time that you wake up every day. Consistency will allow you to get the optimal amount of rest and maintain your circadian rhythm. Balancing your circadian rhythm - your internal clock - offers a bonus of great health benefits, too! Your level of homeostasis means the production of good hormones, better digestion, and better circulation.
During the day, try to get an appropriate amount of light exposure, either from natural sunlight or alternative daylight-simulating sources. A focused morning routine will then lead to a consistent bedtime because your body will be ready to get the rest it needs. It is also essential to set routines with work-life balance in mind. It can be challenging, but try to leave work at work. If you're managing things from home, keep your workspace separate from the bedroom so that you can disconnect when it is time to go to sleep.
Reduce Tech Time
We've all spent our last waking moments scrolling through social media or catching up on the news at one time or another. Unfortunately, this is not the best way to fall asleep and stay asleep. Blue light exposure from smartphones and other devices can produce adverse effects on our bodies. Sleep can be profoundly affected by the blue light coming from screens because it delays melatonin production. Delayed melatonin from the light can mess with your circadian rhythm, making you feel more awake when you should be winding down. Some ways to avoid blue light exposure before bed include using blue light blocking glasses when watching TV, or with any screen time before bed. You can also end your screen time one hour before your planned bedtime to ease yourself into a more restful sleep.
Move More and Eat Right
Focusing on your whole body's health can be a great way to work toward improved sleeping habits when on a travel assignment. When you are not busy working, adding in some simple exercise routines can increase the time you spend in deeper sleep, which gives you the most restoration. Taking your healthy habits even further with a well-balanced diet can contribute to improved sleep too. Try avoiding meals right before bedtime, and limit alcohol consumption. The better food you ingest and the more movement you get, the better your sleep, and overall health, will be.
After a busy day as a travel RN or LPN, it can be challenging to let go of the day’s stress and relax into a good night’s sleep. Slowing down before going to bed is a vital part of your bedtime routine. Some ways to slow down are meditation, a relaxing shower or bath with warm water, and reading a physical book. Take time to disengage your mind in a positive way, instead of using screen time to dull your stress. Once you shift your focus on your mental health in healthy ways, you will be closer to getting that restorative sleep that your mind and body both need.
Put in place a routine that can help you become more comfortable, less stressed, and prepared for a successful night’s sleep! Healthy sleeping patterns take a little bit of planning and effort but are well worth it.