As a current or upcoming nursing student, you probably already have a good idea of the importance of eating healthy and exercising regularly during your studies. However, did you know that getting good quality sleep is one of the most effective ways to boost your wellbeing and improve your grades? Keep reading to discover why and how you can catch more z’s.
Why sleep is so crucial
Sleep is valuable for your physical and mental health in all sorts of ways. It’s how the human body rests and recharges, ensuring that it continues to function effectively day after day. Most experts recommend that you get between seven and nine hours of sleep a night as a young adult in order to get the following advantages:
- A strengthened immune system – perfect for fighting off freshers’ flu
- A lower risk of gaining weight – crucial for maintaining good health
- Improved focus and concentration – helping you to learn more effectively in class and on clinical placements
- Better emotional control and social intelligence – enabling you to handle difficult patients and distressing situations more effectively
- Higher cognitive performance and better memory – vital for passing your exams with flying colors
- Greater physical performance – useful for getting through long shifts where you are on your feet all day
- A healthier heart – as a nursing student, you’re sure to understand why this is important
- Better mental health – crucial for staying motivated and succeeding both on your course and in your career
- Greater productivity – useful for making the most of the opportunities presented to you at college
This shows why making sleep a priority is so important for nursing students at top colleges such as UIndy. If youre well-rested you will be able to study more effectively, be more productive, get better grades on your exams and coursework, plus get the most out of your clinical placements.
The impact of sleep deprivation
Unfortunately, many nursing students still resort to pulling all-nighters in order to get their essays done or cram for exams. This is detrimental to both your health and your grades, as even one night of disturbed sleep can have a negative impact on your cognition, mood and overall health. Some of the symptoms of sleep deprivation include:
- Lack of energy
- Impaired memory
- Fuzzy or slow thinking
- Poor or risky decision making
Not only that, but it can also weaken your immune system, increase your risk of getting into an accident or suffering an injury, and raise the risk of harmful medical conditions such as heart attacks. Changed your mind about that late-night study session yet?
This proves that making sleep a priority is vital when it comes to getting high marks on an exam, completing a piece of coursework to the best of your ability, or impressing your mentors when you’re undertaking your clinical placements. Not to mention, once you’ve qualified as a nurse, it will be crucial to ensure that you give your patients the best possible care.
Top tips for improving your quality of sleep
Despite knowing that sleep is key for mental and physical health, a CDC study suggests that one in three American adults do not get enough of it. There are many possible causes of insomnia and disturbed sleep, so if it’s something you suffer from, then try out some of the following tips:
- Wear a sleep mask to prevent light in your bedroom from keeping you awake, and use blackout curtains to block out the light from outside
- Keep your bedroom at a cool temperature to promote sleep (around 60-67°F is ideal)
- Go to bed at the same time every night, and get up at the same time every morning
- Avoid drinking caffeine in the evening or using screens late at night – both can make it harder to drop off
- Before going to bed, spend time meditating or doing simple breathing exercises in order to prepare your body for sleep
- If you find that you are unable to fall asleep, don’t stay in bed, getting annoyed about it. It’s more effective to get up, go to a different room, and engage in a restful activity like reading until you feel sleepy
- Avoid drinking alcohol – although it can help you relax, the truth is that alcohol reduces the quality and duration of your sleep
- If you find that you lie awake worrying, try writing down your concerns before you go to bed to get them out of your head
- Invest in a top-quality mattress, pillows, and bedding to ensure you’re comfortable and supported all night
- Try listening to sleep stories, calming music, or natural sounds such as rain or the ocean to help you drift off