How do I make the switch to nights?

  1. I am a new nurse, just finishing my internship and now I have to switch to nights - that was the deal I signed up for. I need advice on how to switch my body around since I am an older new grad - 42 y/o with 3 kids! I never see then end of the news at 10, let alone stay awake to see the new year! I am working on a good buzz with wine right now, and figure that will get me to sleep tomorrow day while my kids are in school, then hopefully stay awake tomorrow night long enough to be able to sleep Tuesday day, so that I can start my first night shift Tuesday night.

    Does ANYONE out there tonight have any helpful hints on how to swing my body around to this? I only work three night shifts this week, then have 6 days off. Then it will be 3 nights on, two off, and three on, then 6 off as a regular schedule. I need anyones helpful tidbits of nursing knowledge on this subject!

    Thanks,

    Victoria
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  2. 7 Comments

  3. by   xokelly2
    I too tried to stay awake the night before my first night shift, and then sleep the whole day and it didn't work.(I still have trouble sleeping during the day. By the way, thanks for the tips all you night shifters!!)

    I recommend sleeping regular the night before then try to nap during the day. Thats what works best for me. That first night it was a little struggle but it really hasn't been as bad as I envisioned. Straight out of nursing school, my body was use to feeling exhausted.

    Goodluck!!!!!

    kell
  4. by   nursemike
    I usually stay up as late as I comfortably can, the night before my next night shift, then sleep as late as my body wants to. That usually ends up being in bed at 2 or 3, then up at 10 or 11. Usually tired by end of shift, but not terribly so, and I sleep pretty well the next day--up at about 5p.

    My bedroom is pretty dark, but a sleep mask helps keep out stray light. I'm usually on 3/off 4, so I kind of revert to daylight when I'm off. First day off, I set my alarm for 2p or so, so I can sleep that night. I don't try to be an early riser on my days off--if I'm up before 10, there's a pretty good reason. Of course, that's kinda my natural rhythm. Working 3p-11p is perfect for my internal clock, but 7p-7a isn't bad, and I like the 3-12's.
    When I occassionally work 11p-7a, I follow pretty much the same schedule.

    This system works pretty well, but it isn't perfect. I usually have a light breakfast when I get home, but avoid caffeine after 4am or so, unless I'm desperate. I do pretty well when I'm up moving at work, but try to break my charting up and do it where a co-worker can keep an eye on me. If I do start to nod, it's during charting.

    There is plenty that sucks about night shift, but on the whole I prefer it. There's a camaraderie on the night crew that I haven't seen as much on days. We vampires look out for each other.
  5. by   Renge
    just easy, try to extend your waking hours little by little every night.. and you'll see that your body clock will adjust by itself....
  6. by   PJMommy
    I have four children so the staying awake at night thing doesn't work for me when I'm not working. I have to be awake when my family is awake. Here's what works for me -- go to bed at regular time the night before I go back to work and then set alarm to get up after about 7 hrs of sleep (my norm is 8 hrs) so I'm just slightly tired the next day. I take 25 mg of Benadryl about noon that day and then nap from 1-4 PM. After a 3 hr nap, I usually have no trouble staying up that night.

    Just remember all the tricks to sleep during the day - turn off the phone, completely darken the room, don't drink a bunch of caffeine in the last hours of your shift, etc. If you wake up before noon and start the tossing and turning process, then try taking a Benadryl to get you through the rest of the day's sleep.

    On the first day I'm off, I sleep all day and get up around 2 or 3 PM and, honestly, I never have trouble getting back to sleep on a regular schedule that night. Good luck.
  7. by   mstigerlily
    I normally go to bed around 10pm too but have succesfully been working nights for a year now. Expect to be horribly overwhelmingly nauseatingly sleepy for awhile esp between 2am-5am. That is a tough time. You may have problems eating/sleeping as your body adjusts.

    Some people keep the sleep by day/up at night schedule on their days off but that doesn't work for me. I try to stay up a little later and take a nap in the afternoons instead. You may have a hard time doing 3 nights in a row I don't do it - I only do two because then I have a hard time sleeping when I return to my regular life.

    You MUST sleep, turn off the phone, hang a sign on your door, hang blankets over the windows, use earplugs, whatever it takes. Get to sleep as soon as possible because as the day goes on you start feeling the pressure of "I MUST go to sleep" and then you CAN'T go to sleep. I like to be in bed by 9am. Brush your teeth, shower, put on pajamas, whatever you would do before you go to bed.

    Quote from vmilty
    I am a new nurse, just finishing my internship and now I have to switch to nights - that was the deal I signed up for. I need advice on how to switch my body around since I am an older new grad - 42 y/o with 3 kids! I never see then end of the news at 10, let alone stay awake to see the new year! I am working on a good buzz with wine right now, and figure that will get me to sleep tomorrow day while my kids are in school, then hopefully stay awake tomorrow night long enough to be able to sleep Tuesday day, so that I can start my first night shift Tuesday night.

    Does ANYONE out there tonight have any helpful hints on how to swing my body around to this? I only work three night shifts this week, then have 6 days off. Then it will be 3 nights on, two off, and three on, then 6 off as a regular schedule. I need anyones helpful tidbits of nursing knowledge on this subject!

    Thanks,

    Victoria
  8. by   froghair
    in a word its very hard, especially in your circumstances.....with kids. ive been doing full time nights now for 5 years and being single it is alot easier. i find i dont revert on my days off i still keep to my N/D times but that said i do spend alot of my days off just sleeping. the one thing i find very hard is catching up with friends. not actually catching up with them but if i stay over i find im very tired early evening and im wide awake at 2am then by 8am im ready for bed. sometimes you just battle through the sleepless barrier but its hard
  9. by   bhaysRNinKS
    I worked nights for a number of years and when I first started what I never anticipated was the distress on my digestive system! We're all nurses, can we talk about gas I never thought about the fact that our gut sleeps when we do. Let me just say that GasX was mine and my coworkers friend.
    As far as sleep I'd switch to a day routine on my days off. The night before I'd go back to work I'd stay up late, wake early to get my son off to school and nap in the afternoon. I also pulled a lot of up to 24+ hours do to unavoidable activities. During the week when school was in session for my son I would offen stay up all night on my nights off and sleep when he was at school -- got lots of housecleaning done since there were no disturbances.
    There is a lot of comraderie on night shift--I often miss the group I first worked nights with...GOODLUCK!!!

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