Top Five Tips for Night Shift? For a new nurse? - page 4

Hi everyone, I'm a new grad and I'm starting in heme/onc at a pediatric hospital next month. I'm going to be working three 12-hour shifts a week (nights), and I'm wondering if there are any tips any... Read More

  1. by   ybq2008
    Bump...any new suggestions?
  2. by   paulwalkman
    Six days in a row are definitely too many. I wrote that post in October 2008, and I kept averaging four or five nights per week. I worked like that until December 5 2008. On my way the home at 8:00 AM on December 5 after working several shifts in a row, I fell asleep while driving and hit a tree. The next thing I remember were some paramedics telling me are going to take me to a local hospital. I told them “not a chance, I need to go to Cooper!”, which was the nearest trauma center.
    I had blacked out were several days due to a subdural hematoma. I also crushed my left calcaneous, which is replaced with the cadaver calcaneous, crushed my right ankle, where they put in four plates, and had massive internal bleeding. They cut the open sternum to pubic bone to find the bleeding, and remove my spleen. Ten days later I had the first conversation that I remember. I also developed sundowners syndromeI This always anoyed me when my patients had it. Everyday I was told what hospital I was at and every night when I was asked, I thought I was at the hospital I worked in. I kept trying to get out of bed to see patients. I didn't understand that I was the patient. Not good!
    I remained in the hospital until December 28, 2008. I remained in a wheelchair for a little over three months and I have needed two additional surgeries on my right ankle. With luck, I will be off crutches by 2010. I guess my tips would be: don’t work too many days in row, make sure to get enough sleep, and try not to work night shift. Maybe it has been a blessing in disguise. I can’t do shift work at a hospital anymore, so I am back in school to get my nurse practitioner degree.
    Paul
    Last edit by paulwalkman on Dec 13, '09 : Reason: Had to add material
  3. by   carbaminohemoglobin
    Welcome to nights!

    1) Sleep is so important! Like other posters have said: room darkening blinds or eye mask, phone off!, fan for noise and temperature. Your body wants to be awake during the day.. Any bit of light, noise, or other discomfort will wake you up and keep you up!

    2) Drink plenty of water on & off of the clock. We all know this, but I find this is really important to help keep me alert at night. Plus, you'll want something to sip on..

    3) Bring healthy snacks. Don't forget crunchy foods! Celery, apples, pretzels are all awesome! Chewing gum too.

    4) Stretch, take a walk, do something in your down time other than sit at the desk with your head in your hands! That's a killer!

    5) CYA is always a must, but on nights.. Chart checks are crucial to every one! If this is one of your responsibilites, make sure it gets done well. Lots and lots of errors are caught this way! It's very monotonous, but it pays off when you find something!

    Pay attention to your body! You'll be able to set up a routine soon. Good luck!
  4. by   rn/writer
    Quote from paulwalkman
    Six days in a row are definitely too many. I wrote that post in October 2008, and I kept averaging four or five nights per week. I worked like that until December 5 2008. On my way the home at 8:00 AM on December 5 after working several shifts in a row, I fell asleep while driving and hit a tree. The next thing I remember were some paramedics telling me are going to take me to a local hospital. I told them "not a chance, I need to go to Cooper!", which was the nearest trauma center.
    I had blacked out were several days due to a subdural hematoma. I also crushed my left calcaneous, which is replaced with the cadaver calcaneous, crushed my right ankle, where they put in four plates, and had massive internal bleeding. They cut the open sternum to pubic bone to find the bleeding, and remove my spleen. Ten days later I had the first conversation that I remember. I also developed sundowners syndromeI This always anoyed me when my patients had it. Everyday I was told what hospital I was at and every night when I was asked, I thought I was at the hospital I worked in. I kept trying to get out of bed to see patients. I didn't understand that I was the patient. Not good!
    I remained in the hospital until December 28, 2008. I remained in a wheelchair for a little over three months and I have needed two additional surgeries on my right ankle. With luck, I will be off crutches by 2010. I guess my tips would be: don't work too many days in row, make sure to get enough sleep, and try not to work night shift. Maybe it has been a blessing in disguise. I can't do shift work at a hospital anymore, so I am back in school to get my nurse practitioner degree.
    Paul
    So sorry that you went through this, but happy to hear you survived.

    DH and I have both worked nights for many years. When we're able to, we carpool and help each other stay awake. When I drive alone, I do what it takes to make it home alive. I don't often feel dangerously sleepy, but if I do, I'll take a short catnap in my car in the parking structure, crank the windows down and the radio up, slap myself in the face, or sing at the top of my voice. On the way into work, I take the freeway because it irks me to have to keep stopping. On the way home, I need the break in the rhythm to keep me from falling victim to highway hypnosis. If I have to, I pull over and walk around a bit to get the blood moving again.

    I was an EMT for many years and saw the results of people who were driving while impaired. You can't tell if the person behind the wheel was drunk or "merely" exhausted. The resulting mess looks the same.

    To anyone working nights, do what it takes to get your sleep. Don't berate yourself if you need an occasional "catch up" day where you hug the mattress for 10 hours +.

    On your days off, consider keeping a semi-night schedule by sleeping from 0400 till 1200. That way your body doesn't have such a hard time adjusting.

    I realize this thread is several years old, but anyone who is struggling with noc shift can benefit from these suggestions.

    Be careful out there.
  5. by   cjcsoon2bnp
    I work per diem evenings and nights so one day I might be doing 3 PM - 11:30 PM and the next night I might be doing 11 PM - 7:30 AM so there is really no consistancy in terms of my schedule. My tips for working nights are the following:

    1. Pack a water bottle and a few healthy snacks. (Food on nights tends to be vending machine fare and deep fried heart attack specials so I like to pack my own healthy snacks to keep me at my best.)

    2. Try to spread tasks out to keep yourself busy. (Don't get behind on your work but try to spread out tasks so you have enough to keep yourself busy during your shift.)

    3. Don't sit around your entire shift or spend your time chatting with the other nurses. (Your there to do a job and so you need to keep that in mind. It doesn't mean you can't be friendly and talk with the other nurses but you shouldn't be spending all of your time sitting on your butt either. The more time you spend sitting the more tired your going to get. If your all caught up on patient care and charting you can look around and see if there is anything you can do to help clean up the unit or help with stocking supplies.)

    4. Get plenty of sleep!! (You need to make sure you get plenty of sleep so that you are not overtired during your shift and so you can drive safely to and from work. If you are leaving work and you feel like your going to fall asleep then you need to stop driving and rest for a bit. I have had times where I felt like I was going to pass out while driving so what I did was stop my car in a safe area (or not even leave work) and take a quick nap in my car. Sometimes I call my family and let them know I'm going to be a little late coming home but that is much better then getting into a car accident because I fell asleep at the wheel.)

    !Chris
  6. by   NewAggieGrad09
    I rotate days and nights, and I start my nights in two weeks. I definitely will be looking over this thread for tip! Thanks!
  7. by   paulwalkman
    There was a study comparing physically exhausted sleep deprived drivers against typical drunk drivers. The sleep deprived drivers were worse off. Not that I'm prtomoting drunk driving, but DEFINITELY don't drive sleep deprived.
    Paul

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