Sure, balancing work and life is a challenge that resonates with everyone. For nurses, it often feels like mastering the art of juggling fire torches, spinning plates, and riding a unicycle all at once. This is true whether you’re a dedicated nurse in a familiar setting or a travel nurse exploring new horizons.
Amidst the hustle, one aspect that may sometimes get overlooked is ensuring you get quality sleep. Quality sleep can be especially challenging for healthcare professionals who work varying shifts and extended hours, including travel nurses on the move. However, your wellbeing is just as important as your patients’ health, so it is important to prioritize rest.
Whether you’re about to embark on your first travel nursing job or your tenth, these tips will help you stay energized for all your assignment’s adventures.
#1 Tailor (and Troubleshoot) New Sleep Environments
The “First Night Effect” is a pesky phenomenon that can make your first sleep in a new place restless. Whether in a 5-star hotel, a woodland cabin, or a friend’s guest room, straying from the comforts of home can make relaxing for a good sleep challenging.
So, let’s tackle this head-on. We’ll explore some typical “First Night” situations and explain how to transform an unfamiliar room into a sleep sanctuary.
When It’s Too Bright
If you’re working night shifts and sleeping during daylight hours, you’ll need a way to keep your room dark.3
For a quick fix, keep an eye mask handy. Better yet, opt for accommodation with blackout curtains that can plunge the room into darkness at any hour. Check with your host if they provide them before you arrive. If they don’t, bring portable ones to ensure a peaceful, uninterrupted sleep, no matter where your travels take you.
When It’s Too Loud
If you’re sensitive to the sounds of a busy neighborhood or other guests, try either (or both!) of the following:
- Earplugs – Earplugs offer an affordable and simple solution to block out noise. If you’re staying at a hotel, the front desk might even provide you some for free!
- A white noise machine – White noise machines help to mask disruptive sounds and create a consistent, soothing backdrop that promotes deeper sleep. And if you’re tight on space? Search the app store or YouTube for white, pink, brown, or orange noise to play from your phone or computer while you sleep.
When It’s Just Plain Uncomfortable
Hotel pillows are unpredictable, so it could be worth packing your own. Although it might be bulky, it’ll save you tossing and turning on a limp or lumpy hotel pillow all night.
And don’t be afraid to do some detective work ahead of time! If you have control over your housing, check for comments on uncomfortable bedding, faulty thermostats, or general noisiness.
As a last resort, remember: you can always ask hotel staff to switch your room if you think you have a sleepless night ahead.3
#2 Take Note of How Your Body Unwinds
Unwinding after a demanding shift can be a challenge. Instead of immediately hitting the hay, consider taking some time to clear your mind—it can significantly enhance the quality of your sleep.
Here are some soothing pre-bedtime activities to consider:
- Jotting down your day in a journal
- Enjoying a warm bath (bonus points for adding aromatherapeutic oils)
- Engaging in guided meditations
- Practicing gentle stretching or yin yoga
- Diving into a good book or crossword puzzle
Keep in mind, we’re all unique. While a lavender-infused bath may not be your ticket to dreamland, it could be just the magic potion for your fellow nurse. Don’t hesitate to experiment with different relaxation techniques until you discover what does the trick for you.
#3 Develop A Consistent Sleep Routine
The ideal sleep schedule involves tucking in and waking up at the same time each day. In reality, it’s not always possible for travel nurses to enjoy such consistency.
Although we can’t always control our schedules or environment, we can retain command over our habits. So, if you can’t keep a schedule, try to enforce a regimen. Repeat your bedtime activities—including a relaxing one—in the same order each night to develop a reliable sleep routine.4
Consider one like this:
- Start by washing away the day with a comforting warm shower
- Freshen up by brushing your teeth
- Delve into an intriguing book, but just one chapter
- Do some gentle stretches right there in your bed
- Dedicate a few moments to a mental wellness practice, like guided meditation
- And then, it’s lights out!
By consistently following these steps, you’re training your brain to understand it’s time for rest. Over time, it’ll recognize that this pattern ends in slumber and should begin to cooperate accordingly.4
Take Home on the Road with Host Healthcare
Mastering the science of sleep can take a little practice, but once you’ve found your groove, you’ll feel confident embarking on whatever adventure you have lined up next.
When you’re ready to take your nursing skills on the road, Host Healthcare wants to help you find the perfect place to work and explore.
Just tell us your specialty, pick your preferred destination, and our dedicated travel nurse recruiters will help you find the perfect position to start your next chapter. With benefits like 401k matching, day-1 medical and dental insurance, and access to housing specialists, we take care of your needs while you focus on providing compassionate care to your patients.
“How Sleep Affects Your Health.” National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 15 June 2022, https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/sleep-deprivation/health-effects.
“How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep in a Hotel.” Sleep Foundation, 13 May 2022, https://www.sleepfoundation.org/travel-and-sleep/sleeping-well-in-hotel.
Mayer, Beth Ann. “Irregular Schedule? 10 Tips to Get Your Sleep on Track. .” Healthline, Healthline Media, 21 Feb. 2022, https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sleep/irregular-schedule-10-tips-to-get-your-sleep-on-track#the-data.
“Why Is Sleep Important?” National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 24 Mar. 2022, https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/sleep/why-sleep-important.