Sleep, Caffeine, Stress and Nursing School: What you need to know

Nurses know how to take care of their patients, but sometimes they forget to take care of themselves. As a student in any nursing program, it may seem impossible to get enough quality sleep, drink enough caffeine and eliminate stress from your life.

3 min read

Sleeps Caffeine Stress & Nursing School

It’s important that you are educated about the effects of sleep, caffeine and stress and know how to effectively manage all three.


According to doctors at the Mayo Clinic, healthy adults should get 7-8 hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep each night. Your body may need more or less sleep depending on a number of physiological and genetic factors.

Effects of sleep deprivation: Getting less sleep than what your body needs negatively affects the way you feel and the way your body functions. Sleep deprivation can result in slowed reaction times, a rise in blood pressure, higher levels of anxiety and depression, impaired cognition and memory, unhealthy food cravings, a higher risk of many deadly illnesses and many more unwanted effects.

What to remember: When it comes to sleep, quality is just as important as quantity.

Tips: There are many things you can do to help yourself sleep better, including maintaining a consistent daily schedule, avoiding caffeinated food and drinks at night, turning off electronics while in bed and exercising regularly. Also, naps are good for you so don’t be ashamed of taking a quick nap for a study break!


Caffeine accelerates heart rate and stimulates central nervous system functioning. It also temporarily enhances one’s ability to learn, focus and comprehend. But, how much is too much? According to the Mayo Clinic, 200-300 mg of caffeine per day (equivalent to 2-4 cups of brewed coffee) will not cause harmful effects in the average, healthy adult.

Effects of too much caffeine: While moderate caffeine intake above the normal daily amount isn’t likely dangerous, you may experience some unpleasant symptoms. These hidden side effects include increases in blood pressure, insomnia, muscle tremors, stomachaches and anxiety.

What to remember: It’s okay if you enjoy a cup of coffee, or two, to start your day. It’s also okay if you feel like you need caffeine in the morning to wake you up and keep you alert. In normal amounts, caffeine isn’t harmful.

Tips: Every person reacts differently to caffeine. On average, caffeine takes about 30-45 minutes to take effect in the body and it lasts for about 3 hours. For quality sleep, it’s important to avoid caffeinated foods and beverages in the evening.


It’s normal to be stressed, especially as a student, but stress can be harmful. According to the American Medical Association, stress is the root cause of 60% of illnesses and diseases. The human body does not distinguish between big and small stressors. That’s why it’s important that you know how stress affects your overall well-being and how you can control your response to stress.

Effects of stress: Even small amounts of stress can cause headaches, increased irritability and anger, increased heart rate and anxiety, stomach problems, weight gain and decreased concentration. A person without stress is more positive, productive, energized and has a healthier immune system.

What to remember: The best way to deal with stress is in the moment. Take control of the situation.

Tips: Some strategies for reducing stress include regularly exercising, organizing your work environment, setting aside personal time for relaxing and learning to say “no” so that you don’t take on too many responsibilities.

It’s no secret that sleep, caffeine and stress are interrelated. Now that you understand how each affects your body, you have all the tools you need to keep yourself healthy. Luckily, we’ve made searching for a nursing program easier.