I have insomnia the nights before work. What should I do to sleep more effectively?

By | 2022-02-15T17:57:29-05:00 April 13th, 2012|0 Comments


Dear Donna,

I am suffering from bad insomnia and have trouble getting to sleep at night before work. It’s like torture to me. I graduated in February from a program in Seoul, and I’m in the second month of training with my preceptor. I also am still in the orientation process, so I have less responsibility of assigned patients. I am working in a PICU, and my independence day is May 1.

How can I sleep more effectively?


Dear Donna replies:

Dear Ahrim,

Because you’re writing to me about this, I am assuming your insomnia is related to professional stress, anxiety and fear. While all of these feelings are normal for a new nurse, you have to find constructive ways to work through them so you can be at your best each day.

For starters, find a nursing colleague or someone who you know and trust who you can talk to about your fears. Talking is a good way to release stress. You also should be journaling about your feelings and experiences.

Likewise, it is imperative that you create a professional support system for yourself. Do this by joining and participating in a nursing professional association such as the American Nurses Association (www.nursingworld.org), Society of Pediatric Nurses (www.pedsnurses.org) or the Asian American Pacific Islander Nurses Association, if applicable, (www.aapina.org). You cannot stay isolated; you must immerse yourself in the community of nursing. Read “Lean on me” (www.Nurse.com/Cardillo/LeanonMe) and “New Grads: You can do it!” (www.dcardillo.com/articles/new-grads.html).

To start sleeping better, try journaling just before you go to sleep. Write down what you learned that day. Record what you accomplished and how you made a positive difference in someone’s life. In other words, shift your focus from the negative to the positive. Do some physical exercise before or after work. It helps manage stress and improves sleep. Read something encouraging and inspirational before bedtime such as “Your 1st Year as a Nurse — Making the Transition From Total Novice to Successful Professional,” 2nd edition, for additional support, tips and advice (www.dcardillo.com/nurse_book.html).

It’s normal to be apprehensive and overwhelmed at this stage. But you have to take steps to support yourself in your new career. Do all this and I think you’ll start sleeping better not to mention coping better.

Best wishes,


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