The variable hours that many nurses and midwives work can make it tough to get enough sleep. While it may seem like losing sleep is not a big deal, sleep deprivation can have a wide range of negative effects that go way beyond fatigue or drowsiness.

If you would like to chat to someone about sleep strategies you can call our confidential support line 24/7 on 1800 667 877.
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Good sleep habits

'Sleep hygiene' refers to the strategies you put in place to ensure you develop and maintain good sleep habits, allowing you to have enough quality sleep.

Some basic strategies for ensuring a good night's sleep can include:

  • turning off all technology at least 1 hour before bed including mobile phones and television
  • create a comfortable room and bed to sleep in, dark and quiet rooms promote sleep
  • avoiding caffeine 4-6 hours before going to sleep
  • getting fresh air in your bed room, and
  • where possible developing a sleep routine

When you are trying to keep up with the demands of a busy schedule, cutting back on sleep may feel like your only option but over time, even minimal sleep loss can have an impact on your physical health, mood, energy, mental sharpness, and ability to handle stress.

Lack of sleep can affect your judgment, coordination, and reaction times. The recommended amount of sleep for adults is 7 to 9 hours per day.

Read more in the Sleep Health Foundation's fact sheets.


Sleep deprivation can be particularly prevalent in people who do shift work.

If you are a shift worker you may like to read this Sleep Health Foundation Shiftwork fact sheet, which includes some helpful tips on getting enough sleep.

Sleep deprivation - effects
  • fatigue, lethargy, and lack of motivation
  • moodiness, irritability and increased risk of depression
  • relationship problems
  • impaired learning and concentration, and memory problems
  • reduced creativity, problem-solving skills and difficulty making decisions
  • inability to cope with stress and difficulty managing emotions
  • premature aging of the skin
  • weakened immune system and frequent colds and infections
  • weight gain
  • impaired motor skills and increased risk of accidents, and
  • increased risk of serious health problems including stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, and certain cancers.

If you are struggling with any of these you might want to talk to your general practitioner as a starting point.

What can I do?

Read some of our other articles and newsletter on staying healthy:

Our service provides free and confidential support 24/7, to nurses, midwives and students Australia wide. If you would like to speak to someone call 1800 667 877, or you can request support via email.

If you would like to know a bit more about the service before getting in contact — take a look through accessing support.

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