Night Shift and Health - page 2

Hi All, Wasn't sure where to put this topic, but since I'm still in my 1st year, thought I'd ask everyone here. I switched from 12 hour days to 12 hour nights 4 months ago. I'm not a morning... Read More

  1. by   SCmomof3
    This is an issue I've been contemplating a lot as I will graduate soon and it appears that working nights will work out best for my family (childcare wise). I have been concerned about how it will affect me, even though I am a night owl. I actually have an OTT Lite for scrapbooking and love it. I am thinking of getting one for my living room as well. Thanks for the informative posts here
  2. by   mstigerlily
    I've been on nights over 2 years now, I did my orientation on days and hated it, it seemed I was always exhausted!

    Tips:

    1. give yourself a three months adjustment period, at first you will feel hungover, nauseous and crappy but this should pass in time

    2. keep lights dimmed, air cool and quiet, even at night at the hospital. This is a natural state for the body at that hour, besides warmth will make you zzzzz at 2am.

    3. play with your schedule. Personally, I found that working 2 nights in a row and having 3 off worked better for me than working 3 nights and having four nights off. I do sometimes do a three night stretch, but it is hard.

    4. You really have to make an investment in your sleep. Try white noise machines, blackout curtains, eyemasks, all sorts of earplugs, keeping room cool (or warm), turn phone off, lock your door, shower before bed, put on jammies, take a bath, lavender pillows or lotion, melatonin before bed, light snack sometimes helps you sleep better (like toast or a boiled egg) but not too much and not too much to drink or you'll be up needing to pee. If all else fails break our your old med-surg, pharm or physio textbooks and read them by nightlight. That will put you RIGHT out!

    5. some nurses take sleep aids but I've never taken anything other than melatonin. some swear by benedryl or cold medicines.

    5. if you wake up in the middle of your "night" - say 1pm - to go to the bathroom or something, resist the urge to go see what your kids are doing, make a phone call, get a snack. Once you do that it will be impossible to get back to sleep

    6. on the day of your first night back to work, do NOT go out all day and run around. maybe a quick jaunt in the morning, but take it easy at home most of the day. Lie down to take a 2 hr nap in the afternoon, use the sleep tips above (except no medications). Even if you can't fall asleep, lie there horizontal and relax for two hours in the dim light, listen to classical music, take deep breaths, relax. naptime is naptime!

    7. if you can go to bed late-ish on your nights off and wake up late-ish too. I get to bed around midnight and wake up around eight because my husband is able to take the kids to school.

    Quote from SusanNC
    Hi All,

    Wasn't sure where to put this topic, but since I'm still in my 1st year, thought I'd ask everyone here.

    I switched from 12 hour days to 12 hour nights 4 months ago. I'm not a morning person, so the shift is better for me, staff is great - the actual job isn't a problem. I used to spend weekend days going on outings with my boys - walking, hiking trails, parks, etc.- even in the cold weather.

    Ever since I've been on nights - after I get off my 3rd night in a row, I'm totally burnt out and don't have the energy to take the kids on our usual outings - just too exhausted. Recently dawned on me that with these crazy hours, I haven't really been out in the Sunshine all Winter. When I wake up for work, the sun is going down, when I'm going to bed, it's just coming up (I feel like a vampire) :uhoh21: - so virtually no sun exposure for months and probably no - Vitamin D in my body..

    My circadian rhythm is totally screwed up - I try to switch over to sleeping at night when I have off, so I can spend time with the family during the day, but I can't - so I end up grabbing cat naps during the day when the kids are at school. I'm basically exhausted all the time and have absolutely no energy. The rare times I'm in the Sun, it's like a burst of energy. If it was warm outside, I'd try and grab a nap in a chaise lounge in the backyard during the day, but it's way too cold for that.

    I just found something on this problem called "SAD" - Seasonal Affective Disorder - sounds like I have all the symptoms. So, does anyone know how to deal with this or have any suggestions on how to adjust my body clock to these crazy hours and maintain some sort of health and energy? Thanks, Sue
  3. by   NotReady4PrimeTime
    Quote from mstigerlily
    3. play with your schedule. Personally, I found that working 2 nights in a row and having 3 off worked better for me than working 3 nights and having four nights off. I do sometimes do a three night stretch, but it is hard.
    A few years ago I attended a workshop on shift work, and the facilitator emphasized this a number of times. Two nights usually won't totally mess up your Circadian rhythms; once you've worked three, then you're in night mode and your body is expecting to be up all night. Making the switch back to days from that is difficult. I can't remember the last time I did three nights in a row. However, if you are a permanent night shift worker, it's much kinder to your body to try and keep things the way your body wants them to be. This really only is an option for single people with no kids, unfortunately.
  4. by   Imafloat
    I am in my second week of nights and it is going OK. I was told by the other night shift nurses that every week gets a little better. So far I have only worked 3 12's in a row both weeks. If I can get 5-6 hours of sleep I feel like I can handle it. I work in a NICU and I can stay busy the whole night.

    When I start sitting and talking or if I eat a big meal I get tired. I am losing weight because I have no appetite on my working days. I eat 'clean' food when I work. My workplace is liberal with breaks as long as you don't abuse it and someone will listen for your babies. After my first round, at about 10 pm I take 15 minutes to eat a handful of almonds and drink a diet coke. After second rounds, I take my lunch, about 30 minutes, I usually eat cottage cheese and fruit or just fresh fruit. After third rounds, I drink some water, take a potty break and suck on some peppermint to get my brain going again. At this time it is about 530 and day shifters are starting to appear so I know my night is almost over :hatparty: . When I get home I eat a piece of toast and a small glass of warm milk. Also, hydration is key while working. I notice I am less tired if I am well hydrated. I drink about 32 oz of water a night when I work, if I feel dehydrated (dry skin etc.) I drink a 32 oz bottle of Gatorade AM throughout my shift.

    I was completely hating nights and just had the attitude of surviving until a day position came open. Someone on allnurses has a quote in their siggy that says something like life isn't about waiting for the storm to be over, it is about learning to dance in the rain. That made me realize that I need to make the most out of this experience because it is my life right now. I think a positive attitude will help overcome some of the depressive symptoms. It is sunny and warm outside today, after I woke up I took my dog for a walk around the neighborhood.

    Best of luck to you, we can do this! I have always thought that allnurses needed a night shifters forum!
    Last edit by Imafloat on Mar 13, '07 : Reason: punctuation
  5. by   parko
    Thankyou for the tips everyone, this thread is a handy one to have stumbled upon, because I am starting my FIRST EVER night duty tomorrow night! 10hr shifts, for 4 days.

    My Dad is also a shift worker (non-nursing) and i asked him for advice, particularly on how to sleep during the day. His tips were pretty much the same as mstigerlily's- keep the room dark, cool (so you can snuggle up without getting hot), eat a light brekkie when you come home, try and sleep for as long as you can (if you wake up early try and steal a cat-nap during the arvo). He also said if you get a long run of nights, don't flip between day-work-mode and night-work-mode on your days off.

    parko
  6. by   GeminiTwinRN
    I'm still experiencing the nausea, crappy feeling after working night shift for about a month. I hope it will get better! I feel sort of dizzy, light headed, and my mind is foggy. I am a single mom, so I get off at 7:30 or 8, go pick up my son at Dad's, take him to school, and then pick him up again at the bus stop at 4. Then we do homework, and I take him back to Dad's at 6 on my way to work again. I do this for the 3 nights I work.

    On my off nights, I find I am awake til about 3AM, then have to get up to take DS to school again, and come here to poke around before going back to bed.

    I am also losing weight. (course, I needed to lose the 25 lbs I gained while in NS! ) I've lost almost 15 lbs in the month I've been on nights. I'm just not hungry. Sleep is more important to me than eating, but I know that's going to come back and bite me in the butt in the way of sickness.

    I don't know the answers. My doctor put me on Provigil, to take when I'm going to work. It's a drug for shift work sleep disorders. I hope it helps, although I don't really have a problem staying awake during my shifts.
  7. by   pie123
    Quote from SusanNC
    Hi All,

    Wasn't sure where to put this topic, but since I'm still in my 1st year, thought I'd ask everyone here.

    I switched from 12 hour days to 12 hour nights 4 months ago. I'm not a morning person, so the shift is better for me, staff is great - the actual job isn't a problem. I used to spend weekend days going on outings with my boys - walking, hiking trails, parks, etc.- even in the cold weather.

    Ever since I've been on nights - after I get off my 3rd night in a row, I'm totally burnt out and don't have the energy to take the kids on our usual outings - just too exhausted. Recently dawned on me that with these crazy hours, I haven't really been out in the Sunshine all Winter. When I wake up for work, the sun is going down, when I'm going to bed, it's just coming up (I feel like a vampire) :uhoh21: - so virtually no sun exposure for months and probably no - Vitamin D in my body..

    My circadian rhythm is totally screwed up - I try to switch over to sleeping at night when I have off, so I can spend time with the family during the day, but I can't - so I end up grabbing cat naps during the day when the kids are at school. I'm basically exhausted all the time and have absolutely no energy. The rare times I'm in the Sun, it's like a burst of energy. If it was warm outside, I'd try and grab a nap in a chaise lounge in the backyard during the day, but it's way too cold for that.

    I just found something on this problem called "SAD" - Seasonal Affective Disorder - sounds like I have all the symptoms. So, does anyone know how to deal with this or have any suggestions on how to adjust my body clock to these crazy hours and maintain some sort of health and energy? Thanks, Sue

    Thank goodness for people who can work nightshift. I was on nights for one month (during orientation) and that was all I could handle. By the second week, I started waking up 3 hours after I went to bed, and was absolutely exhausted but could not fall back asleep. People suggested that I try sleeping pills, but I wasn't comfortable with that. I started getting very cranky, feeling sick, and very tired. My preceptor did her three nights in a row. I talked to my manager about going to days, then I told her that maybe I just needed to split my shifts up rather than doing them all at the same time. She said that she noticed people who did that had more trouble. I also tried nightshift years ago at another job (non-nursing) and had the same results.
    I'm not particularly a morning person, but by 9 am, I'm good. Good luck to you.
    Sorry I don't have any advice, just relating. Good luck.
  8. by   Jme2007
    I just started night shift a month ago and havent been able to get used to it. I oriented on days for 2 months prior and now I feel also nauseated, and just a sense of ill-health. I can't study very well as I feel like my brain has "checked out" I hate this feeling and would rather have less pay and more work anyday. I also have a 12 y/o, 4 y/o (preschool), and 3 y/o daycare) and when I come home in the morning around 8, I pick up the 4 year old from daycare and take him to preschool. I get to bed around 9:30a and wake up around 2 and cant go back to sleep. I dont want to take benedryl, I just want days back! I am at work now. It is slow--too slow.
  9. by   weesyanne
    I like to work no more than two nights in a row. Normally, I work Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. That way, I'm not exhausted. :zzzzz

    I've been working nights for about 15-20 years and I find that it works best for me. But some people are never able to adjust to nights, so days works better for them. Give yourself some time to adjust and try some of the suggestions that have been given, but if it doesn't work for you to be on nights, try to find another job that has hours you can handle better. Good luck!
  10. by   nurturing_angel
    Goodmorning,
    This is the BEST nightshift thread I have found in a long time. Thank you to all who have posted your very helpful hints.
    I have worked night shift for most of the past 35 years. I work weekend nights....Friday thru Sunday 7p to 7a. My health is shot to you know where.....:spin:....and back again!
    This is a particularly hard shift to work when you are healthy. I have diabetes, diabetic neuropathy in my feet and legs, heart disease, chronic anemia, chronic depression, and a host of other problems. Working 3 in a row is hard but at least I have 4 days off to recouperate. One on and one off type schedules suck the life right out of me.
    Right now, the cool dark room with some sort of white noise helps me the best. Sometimes I turn the weather channel or CNN on so I can barely hear it. They repeat themselves so much it will bore you to sleep eventually. HaHaHa!! I do not take special sleep aid medicine. I tried Ambien once and I hated the hung over feeling the next day. I do use Neurontin and sometimes Flexeril for my neuropathy and my muscle cramps and burning (low mag levels). The medical problems never end. These meds will usually make me sleep. I eat very light before I go to bed...otherwise I feel like I have a rock in my tummy and can't sleep.
    My plans for the very near future....drop one of the 12 hour shifts and pick up two 6 hour shifts through the pay period. This will probably work ok with me. My doctors urge me to go on disability or get on day shift. I absolutely hate the chaos of day shift and having all the "suits" and doctors hanging over me all the time. My choices are work dayshift and suffer depression, anxiety and emotional health decline. Or stay on nightshift and face difficulty controlling all my medical problems but I am much happier. Touch choice, heh? I seem to have a little more luck with the night shift choice although I admit it is very hard to do. I may have to do the medical disability route sometime soon but I don't wanna stop working altogether.
    A night shift forum sounds great! I would even buy a membership for that!



    :angel2:
    Last edit by nurturing_angel on Mar 20, '07
  11. by   jrzynurse
    HI. I am a new nurse of only 7 months and out of those 7 months I've been a night shift nurse for six. I too have that same problem. I don't get enough sleep maybe 3 to 4 hours a day. Two kids and hubby works afternoon shift. By my third day in a row I am totally exhausted. I usually don't get sick, but since I started working I've been sick about 4 times with vomiting. I have a cold that seems like its never going to go away. I have the chance to work days but only shift that works for me is 11p-7:30a. Hopefully things get better for all of us!!!!:spin:
  12. by   gradRN2007
    glad to hear about someone not minding 3 12's i a row, i have worked 5-8's for 10 years and now with nursing my preceptor does t-w-th 7p-7a and I am so looking forward to it, the idea of having 4 in a row off. Of course my daughter is 16 so i can pretty much sleep during the day with no problem weekend sleeping was the hardest for me so hopefully this will work..i live in florida and diagnosed myself with SAD when it got gloomy and windy outside for several days in a row..realized i could never live up north for that reason even here i have to shut the blinds and turn on all the lights during the day, but it helps!!
    thanks for the info
  13. by   tx2007
    I am a new grad fixing to start nights 11P-7A. I have ALWAYS been a night person so I took this position hoping it will FIT me and my family the best. I'm hoping since this job is 5 days per week and I usually go to sleep at 2-3 AM and wake up at 10-11AM everyday that I wont have health or sleeping issues. Day shift is where I find myself getting sick from not enough sleep and I feel like I am in a fog I HATED NS clinicals because of it and I would not feel "normal" until about 1 in the afternoon. Thanks for the sleep tips though!! Does anyone NOT have problems with night shift??

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