How to Survive the Night Shift??

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    Hello everyone. I am a CNA (entry level) and just landed my first Home Health position in the field. I will be helping a family take care of their elderly father/father-in-law in addition to another CNA that they already have employed there. I will be working the night shift most of the time, all 5 days of the business week and possibly a weekend here or there. The hours are from about 10:30 at night until 8:00 in the morning (I will stay long enough to feed him breakfast, if he is up for it). It sounds like a pretty "leisurely" position, so to speak.

    There is a bed in the room for me to sleep on and they have welcomed me to bring snacks, reading material, and eat breakfast with them. My main responsibilities will just be to stay in the room with him in case he has any concerns. He is pretty independent and really could be in assisted living, but the family wanted to keep him home (understandably so). He can walk and is verbal--his hearing is very good for a man just short of 100 years old! He does get confused sometimes. They would mainly need me to help him to the bathroom in the middle of the night or feed him if he gets hungry. I will not be responsible for bathing or dressing--the son tries to do it when he is available. This position would definitely be lower stress for me than my current one and help me finish school which I am already half way through with.

    If this works out, I can see myself staying with this family until I am done with school--already they are very understanding and willing to work around my school schedule and just good people overall. I have always been concerned about working night shifts! I don't like the idea of sleeping in the day time and throwing off my sleep schedule. I have enough of a science background to know that it certaintly isn't the healthiest thing in the world to do to your body. How did the rest of you lovelies survive such a shift on your feet!! Any advice from you guys would be great...I have never been a big coffee drinker but began when I started school =) I don't want to become a vampire! How do I work at night and still be a functioning member of society with the rest of the day time workers??
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  3. 6 Comments so far...

  4. 1
    You may not have to stay awake during your shift if he's sleeping. I work home health too, but live in. My client sleeps at night and sometime uses the bathroom during that time. Other than that, we sleep! . If not then you can get used to sleeping during the day. I did when I worked night shift at facilities. Ask the family or other caregivers what his sleeping habits are. You can function if you end up awake there. Just have to be able to nap when u can. If I really needed sleep, though and there was too much noise I took Zzzquil.
    sixela21 likes this.
  5. 1
    It just takes time to get use to. You will adjust eventually. Everyone is different, but usually people either LOVE working nights, or HATE working nights! I love my night shift position (CNA at a hospital), and would never go back to working days! It does help to eat little snacks, and I personally stay away from coffee and sweets because you eventually end up "crashing." I also like to go outside on my break for a walk and get fresh air. (dunno if that would work for your situation though) Since you are in school, you'll have quiet time there to study. Hopefully he won't sundown or anything. This position sounds like a good fit for you. Good luck!
    sixela21 likes this.
  6. 0
    I personally never recommend you sleep during a shift, even if the family is inviting you to, and if you do sleep, don't let it be for more than a half hour at a time. When you do full time night shift, you'll find that you don't get to sleep much at all. The shift is a bit easier (when I did nights in home health, it consisted of reading and watching a lot of TV) but you're sacrificing your sleep. It's why I had to stop doing nights. I would come home and sleep for 4 hours and be up the rest of the day and get ready for the night. I do recommend you bring a thermos of coffee with you. It is pretty difficult to stay awake during a night shift at a person's home as opposed to at a facility. I would drink a lot of coffee and take Dayquil to keep myself awake, but you do what is right for you! Good luck and congrats on your new assignment!
  7. 0
    Sounds like a great job! I don't personally care for coffee and, with the exception of a rare energy drink, don't do much caffeine. What wakes you up though? If I get sleepy at work I drink ice water a lot. Congrats on the job!

    ~ No One Can Make You Feel Inferior Without Your Consent -Eleanor Roosevelt ~
  8. 1
    I also don't recommend sleeping on the job either. It just seems unprofessional to me. The family is probably making accommodations that they think are necessary to keep good employees, but you can show them that you are a professional and that you take the job too seriously to risk sleeping through your patient's calls for help. I work overnights and have for about three months now in a LTC facility (worked days for a year before that), and will continue to through the summer and I stay up by reading, browsing the Internet, studying and cleaning. I have blackout curtains in my bedroom and sleep while my daughter and husband are gone to school/work. It sounds like a great opportunity though! Best of luck!
    sixela21 likes this.
  9. 0
    Yeah, I did my first night with them already, and I didn't really get any "quality" sleep per se. I was actually scared to sleep. I was up most of the time and only used the bed to actually rest/lay down when I got tired of sitting in the chair next to his bed, but not "sleep." I jumped up every time he called or I heard him getting up. I read throughout the night, surfed the internet, studied, etc. Like I expected, pretty laid back and boring at times, but I enjoy working with the family and the client, so sleep or no sleep it is a good fit. This family is actually a friend of a good friend (someone I've known half my life), and we are the same religion, and I understand a lot about this client's culture (makes it a lot easier to work with the family and the patient). I took power naps at regular intervals and had alarms to wake me just in case I over slept. To be honest, there is not much to do, and I am in complete darkness most of the time (he really cannot sleep otherwise), so once my phone battery died (I forgot the charger) and my computer wasn't connecting to the network anymore (started raining very hard and messed up the connection), I got bored and fell asleep for about two hours. I recorded all times that he used the bathroom, how long he slept, and reported back to the family. He also needs tube feedings which I will be assisting a family member to do before he goes to sleep and reminding him to take medications. I made his bed when he got up, and then I left. I am mainly there to make sure he does not fall. He is so independent, it is mind blowing. I think he is actually irritated by my presence (the family did not tell him they hired me before hand). He really does not like me to help him with much, but he is getting used to me. He walks, talks, can hear fairly well, and uses the bathroom on his on. I just stand outside the door. He dresses himself and feeds himself (outside of tube feedings). He is the most independent patient I have ever worked with. I really wish I had more work to do! When I get paid, I believe I will honestly feel like I am stealing from them Lol.


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