Top Five Tips for Night Shift? For a new nurse?

  1. 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 of you can share about working nights.

    Also, any big tips that you wish someone had told YOU before you started as a new nurse? What do you wish you'd known? Thanks!

    TuckerBug
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  2. 45 Comments

  3. by   SuesquatchRN
    Pack a lot of healthful food. Otherwise, vending machine city.

    Day shift will talk a lot of trash about what nights gets away with. Keep your butt well covered and give no one any reason to gossip about you.
  4. by   canoehead
    Sleep well, in a dark cool room- get a fan for noise and temperature.
    No coffee after 3am.
    Bring fruits and vegetables, don't live on junk out of the machine.
    Turn your phone OFF. (not low, not in another room, OFF)
    You don't have to rebathe everybody before sleep, if you manage to assess everybody before they go to sleep you'll be a hit.
  5. by   bigmona
    stay hydrated to stay awake- drink plenty of H2O. Use some of the downtime on nights (if you have any) to read charts in depth and look up stuff you don't know. I see a lot of nightshifters reading magazines (and sometimes you do need something mindless) but it's a good opportunity for a new grad to keep learning. also i agree with the no coffee after 2 or 3, and pack healthy food and snacks.
  6. by   canoehead
    Yes, icewater is my saving grace.
    Lots of errors and subtle problems have been caught with a careful nightshift chart review, so be attentive.
  7. by   SteveNNP
    Keep drinking H20 all night

    Keep busy! Clean up your pt rooms and workspace, restock, etc...

    Don't allow yourself to get stuck in a chatty group where the conversation involves bashing coworkers, management, etc.. It'll only get you down.

    Plan ahead to make time on your off days to socialize with friends. If you don't, you'll end up oversleeping and getting depressed because you have no life outside of work.

    It's not wrong to have to take ambien or benadryl to help you sleep. You are forcing your body to work opposite of your circadian rhythm. Find a schedule that works for you. I usually sleep all day if I have to work again that night, but only sleep 4-5 hours on my day off, then get up, get busy, and sleep fine that night with some occasional help from my friends benadryl or ambien.

    Good luck, and welcome to nights! I've worked them for 2 years and loved them. I am going to day shift in 2 weeks so I can work around grad school....
  8. by   purple_rose_3
    I recommend working all three days in a row!
  9. by   classicdame
    use black vinyl upholstery fabric taped or sewn to tension rod to black out windows. Can release rod and store under the bed when not in use.

    We marked off the floor's distance then multiplied that to get 1 mile. Sometimes you need to walk to stay awake. Obviously if you are already walking a lot that night you can forget the other walk.

    Make sure family/friends know you will NOT be answering the phone till late afternoon.

    Don't pretend to have a day life. You don't. Plan appts in the afternoon even on your days off. You will feel better.

    Eat smart. I found that a small juice to drink on the way home gave me enough energy to drive more carefully.
  10. by   MsPiggy
    1. Yup, blackout curtains/blinds
    2. either a fan on medium or I use a room size hepa air cleaner perfect amount of white noise for sleep.
    3. phone off!
    4. 3-5 am was always my sleepytime so I would do rounds on pts then, clean the coffee machine & get it ready to go for day shift, walk around to keep the blood flowing, after 5am I perked up again & of course had more to occupy me as things get busy then.
    5. I cant stress #1,2,3 enough you must get enough sleep to survive MN shift!
    Congrats & good luck on your new position-You'll be great!
    -Ms.P
    Last edit by MsPiggy on Jan 15, '07 : Reason: my poor spelling!
  11. by   youngatheart
    I have been working nights for about 5 months now 7p-7a I am really a day person and it has been very hard on me, I sleep all the time when I have a day off just to make up what my body needs, I will be going to days soon. I am glad i worked nights first as I was able to get organized, read about patients, Learn about lab reports and other misc. things, nights can be busy and for the most part patients do not sleep which surprised me. Days are really hectic around here, am I prepared to go to days? not really but sink or swim - if it dosen't work I hope I can get back to nights. I do not like working three nights in a row it is very exhausting - I usually try to split my time by working 2 nights in a row and then separate the other day for the end of the week or at least 2 days between other 2 night. I usually go right to bed when I get home from work (about 8:30_ and I sleep until 3pm, then get up and lounge around until I have to go back that night. On my last night of working I try and sleep only to 1PM and then go back on regular schedule with my family. It's hard. I will miss the pay difference going back on to days though! Good Luck, who knows maybe you will like nights. And definitely disconnect the phone if you can very distracting when you try to sleep.
  12. by   brandnewjerseyrn
    I agree with everyone else here. I've been on nights since the beginning of October and I really have adapted well to them. You really need to work 3 shifts in a row, or you will feel like you have no life. My last night of working 3 12's, I come home and sleep until about 1 or 2, then stay up until about midnight or so and then sleep so i can be on a normal schedule for the rest of my days off. Then the night before I have to work again i stay up till like 3 or 4 and then sleep till 2 and get plenty of sleep for my 7-7 shift. Being able to handle nights all depends on if your body can sleep during the day, some people just don't seem to be able to. My saving grace was buying blinds that make my room completely black. Personally, if i see any daylight at all I can't sleep.

    You really have to have a ton of willpower. Some of my coworkers are always wanting to order out, have "parties" where we all bring in some type of chips/dip or desserts, go to the vending machines. I've learned to try and keep myself as busy as possible on the slow nights so I don't get tempted to eat. I usually bring a lean cuisine and a couple bottles of water every night and that gets me through my 12 hour shifts. Then for my morning ride home I have a granola bar.

    And like everyone else said..turn off the phone!! Especially because dayshift likes to call you at noon and ask you random scheduling questions.
  13. by   RNLauren05
    [FONT=Franklin Gothic Medium]Everyone has given you great tips so far....my top 5 are....
    [FONT=Franklin Gothic Medium]
    [FONT=Franklin Gothic Medium]1. Allow yourself to sleep during the day without interruption. Just because everyone else is awake doesn't mean that you have to be!
    [FONT=Franklin Gothic Medium]2. Definitely pack your own food. If the hospital you are working at is anything like the one I am at....the night food is either reheated or deep fried....ick! I like to eat foods that aren't too heavy....a big meal at 2am just makes me queasy.
    [FONT=Franklin Gothic Medium]3. If you have down time, use it to really research the patient, review their labs, etc. If the patient is going for a procedure, make sure consents are signed, paperwork is done, etc, etc.
    [FONT=Franklin Gothic Medium]4. There will be a certain time of night that you get really tired. If you drink coffee, have a small cup. For me, a little bit goes a long way & can keep me going until things start happening at 5am.
    [FONT=Franklin Gothic Medium]5. Don't think about sleeping or your bed while you are at work....it will make you wish you were there..... :spin:
    [FONT=Franklin Gothic Medium]
    [FONT=Franklin Gothic Medium]Good luck! I've worked nights for a year and a half. It wasn't really for me, as I had a tough time sleeping during the day, was on the opposite schedule of my husband, etc. But, overall, it wasn't too bad & I got through it. Now I'm looking forward to starting a day job in a couple weeks! Have fun!
  14. by   Worriedfreak
    Quote from Suesquatch
    Pack a lot of healthful food. Otherwise, vending machine city.

    Day shift will talk a lot of trash about what nights gets away with. Keep your butt well covered and give no one any reason to gossip about you.
    Is it possible to keep the day rns from trashing you?

    I started 3 mo ago after college. Starting january i am off orinetation on telemetry floor. I get 6-8 tele patients every night I work. If i get admissions (usually 2-3) i am vvvvvvery busy. I don't remember taking time for lunch. If i take lunch i will be leaving later then i should and i don't want to.
    The last night i had 10 (not tele patients) and had 2 admissions at 6 am and 7:30 am. I administered all meds and decided to write notes in the charts after giving a report. This nurse is aggressive and tries to intimidate. And even if you know everything you can easily forget to tell her something that she should know. And I know she will talk about me all day long to everyone she can.
    Please LMK what you think I should do. I am getting very frustrated with her attitude.
    Thank you,
    worriedfreak

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