Things I am learning in nursing school: sleep is important.
When I am rested, I am (a little bit) more confident, capable, and able to think critically. I'm able to shrug off social missteps, and I don't react to baiting. I perform skills more thoroughly without missing critical steps. I also just enjoy life more.
When I am severely sleep deprived, I feel like the world is against me. I miss important social cues, little things get under my skin, and I can never seem to say what I mean to say. I can't think clearly, and I make mistakes.
In normal day to day life, I can survive on erratic sleep. If I don't get enough sleep, I'm just antisocial for a day. In nursing, sleep is critical. I don't have the time or energy to waste on such a thing that can be so easily accommodated. There will be times that I will be tired at work, but I'm going to strive now to minimize those times.
The problem is how to get enough sleep.
Some of the things I'm doing is avoiding caffeine after 10 AM, taking Vitamin D each morning and 1 mg melatonin after dinner, white noise machine while sleeping, very dark curtains and blinds on my windows, and a daylight alarm clock (I live pretty far north).
Unfortunately, I'm a night owl. That doesn't bode well when I need to be awake at 4:45 AM to be at clinicals. I have been trying to get up early on non-clinicals and non-lecture days, but it hasn't been going well. I'm also having trouble getting any school work done before noon, and today is no exception. Generally, I have my most productive part of the day at the time when I should have been in bed an hour ago. I'm just not a morning person, but I must be a morning person in order to be functional during school and later when I am working as a nurse. I think it goes without saying that I am hoping to work night shift, but I still need to get through nursing school without coming apart at the seams.
Does anyone else have suggestions on how to get motivated to do school work early in the morning as well as getting to bed at a reasonable time?
Two suggestions (I have done my master's and doctoral work on sleep/ fatigue/ shift work)
1: Maintain a consistent schedule. Go to bed at the same time every night, get up at the same time every morning. Sucks for school, but it helps.
2: Limit screen time in the hours before sleep. Do not sleep with a phone or tablet in view, silence all but emergency notification settings. No TV in the bedroom. Use the bed for only two activities, both of which start with 'S'.
I'm so bad about using my phone late at night, but I do know better. Thank you very much for the reminder! I use my phone as a backup alarm clock, but there's no reason to use it before bed. Now that I think of it, there's plenty of school work that I can do without a computer (though most of my assignments are on the computer). I'll just save the non-electronic work for right before bed.
Sleep is my favorite!
I'm in my second term and I really lucked out. Last term I had class every day. I work 12 hour nights on Fri/Sat, while school has me scheduled this term for clinicals and lecture on Tues/Wed/Thurs. I do as much homework and studying that I can manage Mon-Fri, then I dedicate Sundays for sleeping and switching my body clock back to days.
It's exhausting at times. You learn to cat nap. Definitely designate your bed for sleeping. I suffered from pretty bad insomnia in high school and my pediatrician told me to only sleep in my room and that would help train my mind to know that when I'm in bed, my body will know that it's time to sleep! I have an oil diffuser in my bedroom and love putting a few drops of lavender in while I go to sleep.
I wrote a blog about holistic wellness, and SLEEP is one of the most important things. A few tips!
Avoid naps longer than 30 minutes during the day and stimulants (caffeine, sugar, alcohol, nicotine) 3 hours before bed
Be mindful that alcohol can help a person fall asleep, but it is often very disruptive to the second half of our night-time sleep
Exercising- as little as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise a day leads to better, deeper sleep (it is suggsted to avoid exercise up to two hours before bed)
Implement good sleep hygiene and try your best to have a regular sleep schedule. This can be as simple as putting on your pajamas, brushing your teeth, washing your face and getting in bed. Any electronic activity (TV, phones, Ipads, etc) are very disruptive to falling asleep. Listening to music, reading a book, or listening to guided mindfulness (apps, such as headspace) are great ways to relax your busy mind.
Im not a morning person either, but am forcinf myself to be due to school. I get up at 5 on clinical days, and 530 on all other days but sunday. Sunday i sleep in....to 7am, lol. I take 3mg melatonin about 30 mins before i want to sleep, along with 2 capsules of magnesium.
You could try downloading an app that turns off the blue light on your cell phone. My understanding is that blue light in particular is the kind that can keep your brain going and make it more difficult to fall asleep. Some apps also have timers you can set too. This way you can still use your phone if you wanted to. I use the dimly on my android.
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