How to get through Night Shifts - page 2

Hi all, I am going to be doing 8 hour night shifts. I haven't done them before. I am not sure how my body will respond. Any ideas on how to prepare and get through them? What should I do and not... Read More

  1. by   nursescar
    Quote from bbuff
    Oh most important. I forgot to add about getting your sleep.
    Funny thing, my MIL watches my nephew for my SIL because she works 40hrs./week, Mon.-Fri. She has him from 7a-5:00p EVERY DAY.(except weekends)
    On the rare occasion I need someone to cover for my kids so I can sleep after a 7p-7a, she will watch them, but tells me I need to be there to pick them up by 1 or 2 in the afternoon.
    For some reason, everyone seems to think all of this sleeping in the daytime is unnecessary. I have a really hard time with MIL and even my own mother helping me with childcare so I can sleep. (My husband understands, when he is off, I sleep till 5p)

    My point is, MAKE SURE you get enough sleep. You will be no good to anyone if you are always trying to catch up on sleep. (I speak from experience )


    Brandy
    Okay guys.....here's something else........I eat very healthy anyway......but have been advised and warned about the junk food issue with nights.........being as I only eat two meals a day now, (lunch and dinner)
    what do most of you do for food? Breakfast and dinner? Basically, sleep through lunch>? Thanks, SCarlett
  2. by   blackIrish
    When I am awake, I eat every 3 hours- small meals. (I usually try to stay away from white sugar carbs always)
    I may have egg whites and oatmeal or pb on a whole wheat bagel. Or a big salad loaded with veggies and maybe tuna or chicken with lowfat dressing.

    I always have my last meal at about 3am. That way I don't feel to blah when I go home for some good ol' sleep.

    And I always make sure I still go to the gym.(usually at 5pm after I wake up)

    If I don't follow the above, I can barely make it through the night. It is true, you are what you eat. The few times I've splurged and ate garbage all day and skipped the gym,(and I have done that a few times!) I paid for it big time.

    You know you are not right when you use the restroom at around 3am, and you suddenly notice that you fell asleep on the pot. Not a good thing to do-

    I bet you're glad I shared that one-haha :chuckle

    Brandy
  3. by   Gompers
    Quote from nursescar
    what do most of you do for food? Breakfast and dinner? Basically, sleep through lunch>?
    Yes, you sleep through lunch. The "normal" eating times for breakfast, lunch, and dinner will change when you work nights. Basically...you change everything from AM to PM, and PM to AM, especially when you're working several nights in a row.

    Example of a typical 12-hour night shifter's schedule...

    Wake up at 5pm.
    "Breakfast" will now be around 5 or 6pm.
    "Lunch" will be around 9 or 10pm.
    "Dinner" will be around 3 or 4am.
    Get to bed around 9am.

    You have to be flexible and do what feels best for you. I personally can't have a big meatloaf dinner with my family when I get up at 5pm. I can choke down a granola bar or something, but come 4am, I'm totally up for a big meat-and-potatoes dinner. It's a different world.

    You can continue to eat healthy, but if you're on permanent nights, you'll just have to get used to the different eating times is all.
  4. by   LilRedRN1973
    I've worked night shift for almost a year as an Apprentice Nurse and LOVE it. I've always been a night owl....my mother would be woken up in the middle of the night when I was a teenager by me moving my furniture around or cleaning out her kitchen cabinets. I HATE getting up any earlier than 9 or 10am so working day shift and having to be up at 5am is torture. I am still asleep for the first few hours of a day shift....how safe is that??

    I can get 5 hours of sleep during the day, wake up at 3pm and still feel better had I slept 8 hours and had to get up at 5am. It's just not me. Both my hubbie and I work night shift so our room is well prepared. We have a separate cooling system for the summertime to ensure a nice, cold room, darkening shades, and the children KNOW not to yell, scream, or roughhouse inside while either of us are sleeping. If they absolutely must be a bit noisy, they are confined to the computer room on the other side of the house. We have no phone in our room, eliminating the need to turn off the ringer, and our doorbell has been disabled. We tried putting up "Day Sleeper" signs but to no avail...people would still pound on the damn doorbell.

    The ONLY thing that makes it hard is when our neighbor decides to mow his lawn around 11am. It sucks because our bedroom is right next to his fence so we get to hear that damn thing......we've spoken to him about it and he's gotten better. He tries to mow around 8am or wait until 4pm.

    I may feel differently in a few years, but I highly doubt it. I feel so much better at night than I do during the day. Even when we have our clinicals and have to be at the hospital at 6:30am, I can't go to sleep until around 1am. I'm lucky to get 4 hours of sleep. I just can't do it. Going to bed before midnight is a very rare occasion and normal bedtime is around 3am.

    I do drink a Sugar Free Red Bull around 4am because my drive home sucks and I've had to pull over several times in order to catch a "cat-nap". I live about 30 minutes away and the drive is not long, but going through this long, straight valley just puts me to sleep!!!

    Melanie = )
  5. by   talaxandra
    I've worked predominantly nights for over eight years; we have an 8/8/10 system. There are two main short-term issues for most people: sleep and health (food and exercise).

    Although a nap in the afternoon works well for some people it just makes me more tired, and I worry about oversleeping for work. I stay awake as late as possible the night before I start work - today, for example, I went to bed around 6:30am.
    I can usually sleep fine during the day, although I certainly sleep better with all the modifications mentioned by other posters - dark room, quiet, minimal disruption, phone off the hook. I also recommend a bedtime routine, to remind yourself that you're getting ready to sleep even though it's light out. And it might be purely suggestion, but my mother told me that taking calcium helps reset seritonin levels - when I remember, taking a gram or so half an hour before I go to bed certainly gives me a better night sleep, and I figure I can use the calcium
    I try to stay up all day on my first day off, but avoid scheduling anything that demands either reasoning abiliy or civility. After a few disturbing purchases, I also stay away from shopping, because lack of sleep clearly results in my tastes changing aberrantly!

    When I wake up I have breakfast - cereal, milk and fruit. At work I usually have one main meal (tonight I had a veggie burger on mutigrain with baby spinach) or a couple of snacks, and then I eat when I get home - usually pasta. There are nights where eating feels like the only thing that will keep you awake - avoiding the evils of junk food and caffeine can be avoided by planning ahead!
    I walk part of the way to work, and part of the way home, and it's become the first step of moving my head into and out of work space. It also means I feel more alert when I'm at work and sleep better at home. I tend to swim on the morning of my first day off, and do more vigorous exercise or classes during my days off.

    Like others have already mentioned, I feel more alert and I sleep better when I look after myself. I also make sure I stay in touch with friends and family, and organise things to do with other people during my time off work.

    I think part of the reason why nights have been associated with decreased life span is because a lot of shift workers eat rubbish and barely move when they're on nights
  6. by   Gompers
    Quote from talaxandra
    I think part of the reason why nights have been associated with decreased life span is because a lot of shift workers eat rubbish and barely move when they're on nights

    I have to agree with you there. Plus, way too many night shifters I know try to have "normal" lives - stay up all day with the kids, work on NO sleep, etc. I understand childcare needs and things like that, but it's so dangerous for patients to have nurses that have been awake for 24 hours at a time. Nights is not a magical shift where you can be a stay at home mom or dad AND work full-time - you NEED to get some good sleep during the day, especially between back-to-back night shifts!
  7. by   pricklypear
    Quote from RNnTraining1973

    The ONLY thing that makes it hard is when our neighbor decides to mow his lawn around 11am. It sucks because our bedroom is right next to his fence so we get to hear that damn thing......we've spoken to him about it and he's gotten better. He tries to mow around 8am or wait until 4pm.


    Melanie = )
    I have the SAME neighbor!! He did it for several years. I seriously thought about going out at about 2am and firing up my lawnmower. People want to be taken care at night if they need to be in the hospital, but they can't bring themselves to respect our need for sleep.

    Absolutely DEMAND that your family and friends respect your sleep-time (as someone else said). The poster who mentioned that people think daytime sleep is unecessary is so right! I've been amazed at the thoughtlessness of people. I've had people who know I work nights bang on the door for 15 minutes until I think there must be an emergency - "well I saw your car, so I knew you were home. Are you sick? Why are you in your jammies?" SLAM

    Also, when I first started nights, I didn't have an appetite at night, so I was famished when I got home. I ate a big meal before I went to bed to keep myself from waking up at lunch time. Big mistake!! Gained 20 pounds!
  8. by   talaxandra
    Quote from Gompers
    I have to agree with you there. Plus, way too many night shifters I know try to have "normal" lives - stay up all day with the kids, work on NO sleep, etc. I understand childcare needs and things like that, but it's so dangerous for patients to have nurses that have been awake for 24 hours at a time. Nights is not a magical shift where you can be a stay at home mom or dad AND work full-time - you NEED to get some good sleep during the day, especially between back-to-back night shifts!
    Good point! Yes, I should have included that lack of sleep is a significant contributing factor to mortality and morbidity - decreased immune system, for a start, plus more accidents (as many drivers can attest!)
  9. by   *PICURN*
    i just finished my first week of nights and let me tell you the first one is the WORST! after that i came home @ 8am, took a benadryl and off to sleep until 5pm when it was time to get up and do it all over again. The second and third night was a piece of CAKE as long as I got enough sleep!
  10. by   HONEYBEAR
    Quote from joey1967
    Hi all,

    I am going to be doing 8 hour night shifts. I haven't done them before. I am not sure how my body will respond. Any ideas on how to prepare and get through them? What should I do and not be doing. Advice, suggestions, comments???

    Joanne
    New Grad Nurse
    I have worked nights for the last 3 years, I love it......I do 7p-7a.......I do not drink anything but water after 12 mid-night......I try not to eat any junk food.......except the occassional snickers I get home by 7.30-8.00am, in bed by 9.30, I make sure to turn off the ringer on my phone, I have my windows darkened, and I sleep like a baby until 5-5.30pm.....Night shift is not for everyone....You either like it or not.
  11. by   tiroka03
    I worked nights for approx 10 years, and loved it. But, the first night back after a day or two off can be really really hard. But, now I have a job that I work two weeks nocs and two weeks days.

    I have never worked a day in 10 years, and found I loved it. Now the nocs seems a little harder. But, I place a lot of that on that I am new to this job and that adds stress.

    I have never taken a jog during night shift, but that sounds interesting. I think there are places in my new facility I could jog safely. But, my one problem has always been a hugh hunger when I get home. I could eat two or three big meals at this time. I try not to give in to this, but have not always succeeded.

    Anyone have any advise about after shift hunger? What causes it and how to keep it from ruining your way of eating?

    as far as sleeping I cut insulation, the kind you would for building a house, and place it in my windows. It instantly darkens my room. I always take a warm bath and make sure my bed is neat and tidy before jumping in. Usually sleep like a baby. However, summer vacation can be very difficult. I am a single mom, and when kids are off over summer, they need things like food at noon, ect. Or the occasional severe storm that blows up. can wreck the best laid plans.

    I wish I had relatives to help, but I don't have any. I try not to envy those that do and usually succeed. My family is very disfunctional. But, if you have someone you can depend on once and a while go for it. Otherwise plan ahead as best you can.

    Personally I can't fall asleep before going to work, so I don't even try anymore. I try to rest, read a book or something quieter, but usually find it a good time to finish up my housework

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