How to Prevent Sleep Deprivation as an RN

How to Prevent Sleep Deprivation as an RN

Friday, November 06, 2015
How to Prevent Sleep Deprivation as an RN

Registered Nurses (RNs) typically work long hours. During their shifts, they are constantly on their feet and on the go. Many times, their schedules aren't consistent from one week to the next. Further complicating matters is the fact that many RNs work overtime. All of these issues can lead to sleep deprivation, which is a serious problem for any nurse. Indeed, sleep-deprived RNs may be less productive. What's worse is fatigue can cause them to commit serious patient care errors. Learn more about sleep deprivation and how to avoid it as an RN below.

Top 6 Tips for Avoiding Sleep Deprivation as an RN

Keep sleep deprivation at bay to be the best RN you can be with these tips:

  1. Get a Boost with Caffeine - As long as it's used in moderation, caffeine can help you push through fatigue to be more energized and alert during your shift. Aim for a maximum of 400 to 450 milligrams - or three to five cups of regular coffee - per day.
  2. Try Melatonin - If you're struggling to stay alert while working night shifts or other unusual hours, try melatonin. This hormone occurs naturally in the body, and it is believed to play a role in regulating circadian rhythms. Unlike sleeping pills, melatonin won't make you conk out. Instead, it will make your body and mind feel ready for sleep.
  3. Stay Hydrated - Dehydration exacerbates the negative effects of sleep deprivation. Even if you've gotten a good night's sleep, a lack of proper hydration can make you feel run down. Keep a water bottle filled to the brim with icy cold water nearby at all times. Try to drink at least eight eight-ounce glasses per day for optimal hydration.
  4. Exercise - Exercising regularly won't just keep you in good shape; it will help you sleep better too. Ideally, try to exercise in the hours leading up to bedtime. Give yourself enough time to wind down and relax before heading to bed. Any exercise will do, whether it's cardio, strength training, or some combination of the two.
  5. Get Quality Sleep - All too often, RNs burn the candle at both ends. In a 2010 study, 32 percent of healthcare workers reported getting six or fewer hours of sleep per night. Chances are that many of them weren't setting the stage for a night of quality sleep. Make sure your room is dark, cool, and quiet. Invest in blackout curtains if you must sleep during the day, and don't be afraid to use earplugs or a white noise machine to drown out background noise.
  6. Combating Fatigue at Work - Avoid fatigue while at work by taking frequent rest breaks. Ideally, you should aim for 10-minute breaks every one to two hours. Make sure you are working reasonable shifts; five eight-hour shifts or four 10-hour shifts are good examples. Also, consider the nature of your workload versus the number of hours you are working during a typical shift. If you're doing too much, speak to a supervisor about adjusting your workload accordingly.

Be an Alert, Productive RN by Avoiding Sleep Deprivation

At some point in any RN's career, sleep deprivation is sure to occur. However, you shouldn't resign yourself to feeling fatigued and out of it while on the job. It's not good for you, and it could be potentially dangerous for your patients. Implement the tips above to ensure you are the best, most alert RN you can be every day of the week.