With working nights and swing shifts, it can be difficult to get settled into a sleep-wake cycle. This means that many nurses, at one time or another, find themselves struggling with low energy levels. If you find that falling energy levels are making it difficult to do your job and care for your patients, it is time to take control. Try these tips for keeping your energy leveled out and high enough to get you through even the longest of shifts:
- Increase your sleep. If you are getting only a few hours of sleep each night because you stayed up watching television or surfing the web, give up the technology and get to bed earlier. Sufficient sleep, 6-8 hours a night, is a requirement for your body to function properly and for your health to stay stable. Turn off all distractions, keep your bedroom cool and dark, and spend some time unwinding before you tuck in. As you get more sleep, you will see your energy levels rise dramatically.
- Get regular exercise. Although you may feel that you are too tired to exercise, you will soon find that daily physical activity will boost your energy levels instead of depleting them. This is because exercise causes your heart to pump more blood through your body, distributing energy-giving oxygen to your brain and tissues. In addition, strong muscles can help you complete routine tasks with less effort and a lower energy expenditure. As a final benefit, regular exercise will boost your immune system and help you to stay healthy.
- Stay hydrated. The majority of people are dehydrated to some level and do not even realize it. By making sure you stay fully hydrated, you will flush toxins from your body and will be providing your brain and other organs with what they need to function at their best.
- Have ‘you’ time. Carve out at least 20-30 minutes every day to relax and do something you enjoy. Whether you are on Facebook, reading a good book, doing a craft, listening to music, or just watching television, this time is a great way to add some enjoyment to your life and to relieve energy-busting stress.
- Say no to the quick fix. When you are tired, you may be tempted to reach for sugary snacks, caffeine, or energy drinks for a quick boost. Don’t fall for it. While these quick fixes may provide you with a temporary burst of energy, they will also leave you with a crash that will make you feel worse than ever. Instead of reaching for a miracle cure, have a glass of cold water or a healthy snack to get an energy boost.
- Get some air. Try to spend some time outdoors everyday. The sun gives you a natural boost of vitamin D and fresh air will leave you feeling better and more relaxed than you thought imaginable. The more time you spend outside, the better it will make you feel. As a bonus, it will also help you sleep better at night.
It is not uncommon for nurses to feel an energy drain, especially during long shifts. Follow these simple steps to get your energy back on track and to take care of your overall health.