Guided Imagery Confers Sleep on a Weary Nurse Working Swing Shifts

We got this email from a med-surg nurse working swing shifts, who suffered from sleep deprivation for years.  And although she knew about guided imagery from her patients, she had only associated it with having surgery. Here she is: 

I am a med-surg nurse who works as a floater. I’m assigned different shifts, as needed. It pays well, but,as you can imagine, my schedule has taken a toll on my ability to sleep!!!  

I first learned about guided imagery in the OR many years ago, when a smiling patient was wheeled in wearing head phones. When I asked him what he was listening to, he said it was guided imagery that his insurance company gave him. I was impressed with how calm and confident he was. Most people looked scared until the drip starts working!!!

After that, I saw more patients with listening devices, looking calm and prepared. However, it took me years to try guided imagery for my own sleep issues. Another nurse suggested it. Up until then I had only associated guided imagery with surgery.

I would come to bed exhausted but wired, with my head buzzing. It was hard to unwind and get my mind to stop jumping around. Also, I stayed away from sleeping pills, because they left me with an unpleasant hangover, plus addiction runs in my family. 

It worked for me the first time I tried it, and it still does, even though nowadays I don’t always need the actual recording - it runs in my head!!!  It has given me more tranquility and rest than any pill ever did, and fills me with good thoughts and feelings. I wake up feeling rested, sometimes after only a few hours sleep!!!

I keep my iPod and headphones by my bed. It almost always works for me in the first 5 or 10 minutes.  

Good sleep has made a huge difference in every part of my life!!!! The work hasn’t gotten any easier, my schedule is still crazy, and my kids worry me as much as ever. But with decent sleep, everything looks and feels better!!!  

So a big thank you for the great blessing you have given me.  I am happy to tell anyone and everyone about it!!!! JJJ

Ellen McCoy, RN, MSN

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