Sleep Tips for the Tired Nurse

It’s Sleep Awareness Week, and if you’re a nurse, you’re probably well aware of how tired you are. Here’s some tips on how to get a better night’s sleep.

by Kathleen Caulfield, RN

Sleep, sleep, sleep—for many of us it’s hard to get there and even harder to stay there. It especially seems a problem for stressed out nurses, with their chaotic routines and many demands. But the insomnia can be cured with a few tweaks, and given that it’s Sleep Awareness Week, I wanted to share some tips for how busy nurses can get a better night’s rest:

  • No use of electronic devices 1-2 hours before bed. Shut off TVs, cell phones – no texting. Or, better yet, remove them from the bedroom entirely.
  • Plan your day the night before. Llay out your clothes, jot down work activities or tasks for the next day. This can allay some anxiety.
  • Take a warm bath with lavender Epsom salts.
  • Stop caffeine early in the day and limit alcohol 3 hours before bed.
  • Exercise is key to sleep; do it early in the day for a restful night.
  • Respect the sleep process. Use nightclothes that are clean and comfortable.
  • Prep your bedroom. Keep it clutter-free, and get comfortable pillows that support your neck, linens that are soft to the touch.
  • Use room darkening drapes.
  • Keep the bedroom cool: 68 degrees is a good setting.
  • Have a light dinner and if hungry prior to bed, eat foods high in tryptophan, such as nut butters, bananas, yogurt, tuna, dates.
  • Warm milk is excellent, but not palatable for some. Try it with a teaspoon of real vanilla and a package of natural sweetener to improve taste.
  • Passion, valerian, or chamomile tea one hour before bedtime is also known to be effective for promoting relaxation.
  • Incorporate yoga into your nightly routine, including child’s pose, legs up against the wall, or corpse pose to assist with relaxation.
  • Journal and reread your entry to give closure to the day.
  • Use progressive relaxation techniques.
  • Lavender in any form – candles, spray for pillowcases or sheets, or in a diffuser.
  • Keep a sleep diary.

By evaluating these components with a sleep diary, often the culprit causing sleep problems and deprivation will be caught, and insomnia will no longer reign.

Kathleen Caulfield is a Registered Nurse who has worked in all facets of nursing, with her most recent gig as a psych nurse in New York City. Currently residing in Florida while seeking employment, she is sharing her passion for writing with us at

Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.