Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™ Blog - Nurses, Get Better Sleep And Improve Your Heart Health
Sleep may feel like a reward, especially after working a 12-hour shift. But it’s more than just a luxury. Sleep plays a critical role in how your body repairs itself and functions. Not getting enough can be detrimental to your health — particularly your heart health.
The American Heart Association recently added sleep as one of Life’s Essential 8™ — a collection of critical measures that improve and maintain cardiovascular health. Adults who sleep less than 7 hours each night are more likely to have high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, and obesity — all of which are major risk factors for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
Poor sleep can also lead to unhealthy choices. Without a good night’s sleep, you may be more likely to eat higher-calorie foods, indulge in caffeine or alcohol, and skip daily exercise. If these unhealthy choices turn into habits, your heart health may suffer.
Tips for Getting More (or Regular) Sleep as a Nurse
Getting quality sleep — and enough of it — is not easy for nurses, especially if you work the night shift. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.
Just ask #healthynurses Katie Carroll, BSN, RN, CHC, CPT, and Nicole Vienneau, MSN, RN, NC-BC. Katie works 12-hour shifts as a staff nurse at Robert Wood Johnson (RWJ) Barnabas Health, and Nicole coaches nurses at Blue Monarch Health to help them recognize and address burnout.
Katie and Nicole understand the importance of sleep and make it a priority in their lives. They offer 5 tips to help you get better sleep:
- Recognize your need for restorative sleep
“You likely wouldn’t try to keep a baby up late or force your grandma to binge on Netflix till the wee hours,” Nicole says. “Treating yourself with the kindness and care you’d give to others is a loving way to recognize your need for restorative rest.”
- Schedule your sleep
Planning out my week in advance on a Sunday or a Monday and using my time wisely during the days helps me to get to sleep at the time I know will be best for me.”
I’m not perfect every time,” Nicole says. “But allowing sleep to be a sacred thing has opened up possibilities to rest and sleep better.”
- Take care of your mental health
Try to find an activity that boosts your mental health, such as meditating, journaling, or working on a craft or project. Katie turns to exercise. “Working out helps me manage my stress and anxiety — my workouts are my therapy,” she says. Katie’s workouts also give her a reason to prioritize sleep. “If I don't get good sleep and let my body rest and recover from my workouts, I am doing more damage than good.”
- Speak up about what you need
How do you manage your work schedule and sleep? We’d love to hear what works for you. Share with us in this discussion.
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