Year of the Healthy Nurse July: Healthy Sleep
This time of year is referred to as the “dog days of summer” for a reason, long days, hot sun, and humid nights. Weather like this across most of the country makes for difficult sleeping conditions. In the American Nurses Association ‘Year of the Healthy Nurse’ campaign, July is designated as Healthy Sleep month. For states that battle long, cold winters, summer is the time to catch up on all of your favorite outdoor activities, such as picnics, swimming, an outdoor barbecue with friends and family, and heading out to the ballpark to watch a game. Sleeping is usually last on the list of activities, however, as a nursing professional you already know how important a good night’s sleep is for staying healthy. It is even more critical if you work an off-hours shift and are trying to sleep during the daylight hours. If this is you, check out our content from April that outlines ways to set yourself up for good rest.
The ANA has published a position statement that addresses the issue of nurse fatigue and the impact to safety and health for both patients and staff. Healthy sleep is an important aspect of maintaining heightened alertness, better mood and concentration, more energy and improved judgment. When nurses or people, in general, are fatigued and not getting the replenishing effects of quality sleep, they are susceptible to cardiovascular disease, obesity, hypertension, and diabetes, in addition to a lack of focus and mood disorders.
For Healthy Sleep month, the ANA is identifying adequate sleep as a minimum of seven hours of restorative, comfortable rest daily. While this sounds reasonable, it is not always easy to achieve. Here are the ANA tips for improving your sleep:
- Avoid nicotine
- Maintain a consistent bedtime routine
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine at bedtime
- Adopt relaxing activities before bedtime such as prayer, reading, calm music, etc.
- Invest in a supportive mattress and comfortable pillows
- Make your room as dark as possible and at a cool temperature
- Do not overeat before bedtime
- Exercise early in the day, not near bedtime
There are a variety of resources available to help you understand the healthy sleep process and find ways to incorporate best practices into your life to sleep better. One very helpful resource comes from the National Institutes of Health: Your Guide to Healthy Sleep, and contains everything you need to know about the benefits of good sleep and what you can do to improve your sleep routine.
We want to hear from you about your sleep habits. Do you achieve at least seven hours of sleep per night? Do you have tips or ideas for your colleagues to help them sleep better? Share your thoughts, experiences, and ideas in the comment section below or post them directly to our Facebook page.