Getting a good night's sleep

After a long day on a busy hospital ward the thought of a night’s sleep can seem like paradise.  Not only does it help repair the body but it also allows us to dream and have impossible adventures.

But for some patients night-time can bring more stress, as they struggle to find sleep.  So with this in mind, we have some handy tips to send you snoozing…

Get cosy, and keep cool

Make sure that you do your best to have your pillows how you want them. Also check that you have just the right amount of sheets and blankets to keep you not too hot, but not too cold either.

Get by with a little help from your friends

You may also want to ask a nurse if they can draw a blind if you have one. This can help to create just the right atmosphere for you to sleep.  Nurses may not always be able to do exactly what you want, but they will do their very best to make you as comfortable as possible!

Turn yourself into a sleeping machine

Create a routine that you can do every night before you go to sleep. This will tell your body that it is time to take a break.  This can be a combination of different things, but each one of them should work towards helping you get to sleep.  Some examples for your routine could include:
  • A set time that should help you go to sleep every night.
  • Changing the clothes that you have been wearing (perhaps from jogging bottoms to pyjama bottoms).
  • Maybe have a small drink and a light snack.
  • Brushing your teeth.
  • Turning off televisions, game stations and other electronic equipment an hour before you want to sleep.

These are just some suggestions.  Try thinking about the things that help you get sleepy and ready for bed. Then try putting these together to form a routine.

Food, drink and the enemies of sleep

Some of our food and drink can prevent us from getting the kind of night’s sleep that we need.  Drinks like cola and coffee are especially bad at keeping people awake at night. This is because they contain caffeine,  which is a stimulant.  If you need to take a drink close to bedtime you should try hot milk or simply water (but not too much as what goes in must come out!).

If you need to eat before bedtime, make sure that it is only a light snack. Heavy things can lead to an unsettled night in bed.

Wear yourself out

It can be difficult to get much exercise on a ward but do your best to get as much as possible.  Being active is a great way of being prepared for sleep.  If you can get outside then a walk in the fresh air is a great tonic for sleepless nights.  If not, then try to keep your mind active as this can help tire you out (but don’t do this too close to bedtime as it could start your mind racing through the night).

Calm down and relax

Take time to calm down before you settle down to sleep.  Try and find something that you can do before sleeping that allows you to relax and tire.  Some people find that a book can help to do this.
Others find that this starts them thinking too much (a dim reading light should make it more relaxing!).  You should try and find what works best for you and then make it a part of your routine.

Turn your mind off with the lights

Sometimes it is hard to shut your mind down.  Instead of feeling sleepy, some minds go into overdrive when it is time to settle into bed.  A good way to help with this is to write down the things that have happened to you during the day. This way, you don’t have to think about them again during the night.