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How to Sleep Better: 10 Tips for Health Care Assistants & Personal Support Workers in Long-Term Care

Working in long-term care as a care aide or personal support worker requires unwavering commitment and energy. With varying shifts and the constant need to be alert and attentive, achieving restful sleep can sometimes feel like a challenge.

Common issues like unpredictable schedules, extended shifts, and the challenges of night shifts often disrupt sleep patterns. Yet, for the sake of your well-being and optimal care for your residents, striking a balance between work and rest is essential. Prioritizing sleep is, therefore, not just beneficial but necessary.

Here are 10 sleep-enhancing tips tailored for care aides and personal support workers:

1. Establish Consistency: Stick to a consistent sleep schedule paired with rotating shifts. A consistent bedtime routine, regardless of varying shifts, helps cue the brain for sleep.

2. Peaceful Environment: Create a sleep-friendly bedroom. Consider using blackout curtains, keeping the room cool, and utilizing white noise machines or earplugs to block out disturbances.

3. Limit Distractions: If you're sleeping during the day, inform family members or housemates about your sleep hours. Use "Do not disturb" signs or settings to minimize interruptions.

4. Avoid Alcohol: Though it might make you drowsy, alcohol can disrupt the quality of your sleep and affect sleep cycles.

5. Electronic Detox: Reduce screen time at least an hour before bedtime. The blue light from devices can hinder the production of the sleep hormone, melatonin.

6. Monitor Caffeine: Limit caffeine intake to earlier parts of the day. Remember, caffeine can stay in your system for hours, affecting your ability to fall asleep.

7. Strategic Napping: If you nap, ensure it's either short (less than 20 minutes) or longer (60-90 minutes) to avoid sleep inertia.

8. Stay Active: Incorporate physical activity into your routine. Regular exercise can promote better sleep, but aim to finish exercising several hours before bedtime.

9. Embrace Natural Light: Exposure to natural light during the day, especially on waking, can help regulate sleep-wake cycles. Spend some time outdoors or near windows. Bright light therapy is an option for those who live in regions with prolonged seasonal darkness.

10. Wind Down: Find relaxation techniques that work for you, be it reading, deep breathing, or listening to calming music.

Remember, a well-rested caregiver can provide the best care. Prioritize your sleep, and you'll not only feel better, but you'll also be more equipped to handle the demands of your job.

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