Sleep deprivation and working as a Certified Nursing Assistant, or CNA, do not mix. CNAs who don't get enough sleep are more likely to make mistakes, including serious ones that can endanger patients. If you become sleep deprived as a CNA, you will struggle to get through your days. Even the easy tasks will seem completely overwhelming. If the problem persists for too long, it can even jeopardize your career. By knowing how to avoid sleep deprivation, you will be better able to handle the challenges that go along with being a CNA.
Seven Effective Ways to Avoid Sleep Deprivation as a CNA
Rely on these proven tips to ward off sleep deprivation as a CNA:
- Take Frequent Breaks - Your employer should provide plenty of breaks during your workday. Ideally, you should get at least 10 minutes off every one to two hours. If your employer only gives you a single long break, request shorter, more frequent ones.
- Avoid Back-to-Back Shifts - CNAs are all too familiar with challenging work schedules. If you don't get enough time between shifts, you won't get enough sleep. At the very minimum, you should have 10 hours off between shifts. If your employer won't accommodate this, look for one that will.
- Have a Manageable Workload - Although the amount of work you must do isn't up to you, your shift length should be able to accommodate it. If you're being saddled with too many tasks, request longer, less frequent shifts or less work for shorter ones.
- Develop a Bedtime Routine - Get in bed at the same time every night, and wake up at the same time every morning. In the hours leading up to bedtime, avoid heavy meals and alcohol. By being consistent about your sleep schedule, your body will learn when it's time for shuteye, and you'll find it easier to get a good night's sleep.
- Don't Rely on Caffeine - As a busy CNA, you may be tempted to rely on coffee, soda, or energy drinks to get through your workdays. A reasonable amount of caffeine is generally okay, but it should be avoided several hours prior to bedtime. Also, it should never be used as a substitute for sleep.
- Exercise Every Day - Getting plenty of exercise helps to wear you out physically, which makes it easier to fall asleep when your head hits the pillow. As an added bonus, it helps keep you strong and healthy and makes it easier to keep from getting too stressed out. Even a 20-minute walk per day can work wonders when it comes to avoiding sleep deprivation.
- Set Up a Good Sleep Environment - CNAs often work overnight shifts that require them to sleep during the day. Under such circumstances, having a good sleep environment is especially important. Invest in blackout curtains to make your bedroom as dark as possible. Make sure the room is cool and quiet. You may also consider using some sort of white noise to drown out daytime sounds. A simple box fan may do the trick, and there are also plenty of smartphone apps that produce white noise for such situations too.
More than anything, make sleep a priority. That is difficult to do when you have lots of responsibilities outside of work too, but it's an absolute must. By getting enough sleep, you will not only excel as a CNA, but you will actually enjoy your job.