Night Shift Nurses Help!

  1. I have been working the Night Shift in a LTC for about one month, as a Charge Nurse. I'm having a hard time with sleeping during the day. I have my room dark, I have the fan on, etc. (My children are grown, my husband is supportive of my work, so that isn't the problem.) I can only sleep until 12:30 and then I'm wide awake.

    Someone suggested that if you work nights, to keep the same sleep and awake schedule on your days off, as you do when you are working. It's suppose to be easier to adjust to working nights and sleeping days. I tend to only sleep a few hours on my first day off, so I can sleep that night. For those who do stay on schedule, how do you handle staying up while the world sleeps on your days off? What kinds of things do you do, while your family sleeps? What are your ideas to make this time, productive, enjoyable, less lonely, etc? How can staying awake at night be more fun or inviting? This sleepy nurse loves her job, so I want to adjust to nights. Please help.
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  2. 14 Comments

  3. by   live4today
    It's hard to imagine staying up all night now after CHOOSING nightshifts over dayshifts for the better part of my earlier nursing years.

    Now, I am only willing to work days in spite of the political jargon and too many chiefs and not enough underdogs to do the hard labor nursing requires on dayshift.

    When I DID work the nightshift, I had the fan going, the HOT shower after I got home, the Benadryl on board (and some days Tylenol and Benadryl), and the ringer on the phone turned off. Even with all that I could only sleep as late as one or two in the afternoon some days, and sleep until three on others. It's not an easy shift to work when sleep time must be opposite most others sleep times.

    Have you considered doing any other shift ?
  4. by   angelbear
    I work 3rd and have for 5 yrs now. I always stay on nights scheduel. I clean house, play on here and recently started studying a bit here and a bit there for my RN. Online world is always awake. Works for me. I do however admit that it is probably not been the best for my health. But for now I am stuck on 3rd as our youngest is 16 but due to severe epilepsy can never be left alone. Ya do the best you can with what you are dealt.
  5. by   Tweety
    Evenings are the time I spend with friends, going to yoga class, to the movies etc. So I don't get lonely. It helps that spouse works nights too. On nights off, I nap but rarely can sleep the night through. So when the world is asleep, I go to the 24 hour gym, the 24 hour grocery store, play on the internet, read, watch rented movies. On the night before going back to work after a stretch of days off I always stay up most of the night, going to bed at 9AM, so I sleep all day and get up and go to work at 7pm.
  6. by   traumaRUs
    I've worked nights for 10 years now. I work 12 hours shifts - so three a week. My kids are also grown. For the first shift, I get up early in the morning (about 5 am) do my chores, study (I'm doing a BSN/MSN online) and nap from noon to 4 pm, get up and go to work. The next day, I come home, read for 15 minutes and sleep from 8:15 to 3 or 3:30, get up have dinner, study (quickly) and go to work. On the last shift I sleep 5 hours and get up so that I can sleep at night. I have to keep a rigid schedule though otherwise I'm beat! This has worked for me. Since my husband works days and I have other activities during the day, I don't stay up all night on my nights off...good luck...judi
  7. by   Tweety
    Originally posted by traumaRUs
    I've worked nights for 10 years now. I work 12 hours shifts - so three a week. My kids are also grown. For the first shift, I get up early in the morning (about 5 am) do my chores, study (I'm doing a BSN/MSN online) and nap from noon to 4 pm, get up and go to work. The next day, I come home, read for 15 minutes and sleep from 8:15 to 3 or 3:30, get up have dinner, study (quickly) and go to work. On the last shift I sleep 5 hours and get up so that I can sleep at night. I have to keep a rigid schedule though otherwise I'm beat! This has worked for me. Since my husband works days and I have other activities during the day, I don't stay up all night on my nights off...good luck...judi
    Your getting about 16 hours sleep in three days. That's what I need in two. That kind of pattern kills me. Of course you make up for it by sleeping at night on days off, but that's a lot of flipflopping.

    But I've found different people do different things.

    Like today, I'm so busy with chorse, I've slept a couple of hours and am up. But at the end of the day I'll be wasted, and probably will be wasted for a couple of days.
    Last edit by Tweety on Aug 16, '03
  8. by   ladytraviler
    I worked nights as a Paramedic for 10 years before i became a night nurse (RN). I do house work, sew, read, and play on the computer. there are services out there that cater to the night person. i even have a guy that will pick up and bring back my car to be serviced. my family has learned that we will do things together after 1600 so that i may keep my same schedule. i wake up 1 to 2 hours early when i don't have to work. my husband is in school for RN and my daughter is a junior in high school so they understand that i must have sleep. hope this helps.:kiss
  9. by   Brownms46
    I have worked nites for most of the 24yrs I have been in nursing. I sleep during the day, but I do not go to bed right away. When you work days, you come home...cook, do chores, errands...etc. And that is what I do when I get home. After relaxing a bit, and maybe jump on the pc. Then I go to bed about two to three hours after I get home. If I wake up too early..because I'm beat when I get home, and have gone to sleep early. I take a nap before going to work. Maybe an 1 - 1 1/2hrs before going to work. Then I fresh and alert for the nite.

    On my nites off, I keep the same pattern If I do have to stay up during the day, I take a nap in the afternoon, so I can stay up the night before I go to work.

    Getting used to nites, could take a long time, as you have programed your body for years to sleep during the nite. Some people never adjust to nites. So you might have to make a change it you find that nites doesn't agree with your body. Good luck!
  10. by   JBudd
    I've worked night for almost 20 years....Ive learned to sleep just about anywhere at any time, including that silly sink at the hairdressers with the u shaped place where your head fits in.

    I often wake up at 12:30 or 1, get up to the BR, and eat something (nothing too sugary), get a good drink of gatorade or something. I try not to do anything that will really get me going, or wide awake. Then I go back to bed with a good book, so even if I don't sleep any more I am resting. Usually fall asleep with the book over me, and sleep a few more hours. The trick is to make yourself comfortable enough to go back to sleep, not be thirsty or hungry etc. I find I sleep longer if I put ear plugs in, so that when I start to rouse (from deep REM, before going back into REM) little noises won't acutally wake me.:zzzzz
  11. by   kimmicoobug
    I just started nights two weeks ago, and already I have adjusted. Problem is on my days (or nights) off, I am wide awake all night and sleep until 1600 on my days off. My kids understand that I have to sleep (5 and 2) and are good sports about it. I would like to actually enjoy the day on my days off.
  12. by   we_rn
    I too am a night shift nurse and I love it. I work three 12-hour shifts Fri, Sat, and Sun. I found that keeping my night shifts close together helps a lot. I also find that working three 12 hour shifts works better that 5 eight hour shifts.

    I am also very careful about drinking coffee. This is key. Believe it or not it has a "peak" and "trough" effect just like many drugs and can make it difficult to adjust your sleep patterns. I do not drink coffee after 1am while at work; this gives it time to clear my system so that I can get restful days sleep when I get home. Everyone is a little different so you will have to experiment to see what works for you.

    I stay away from Benadryl. Yes it makes you sleepy but the effect are temporary at best (a few weeks) and takes time to clear your system. You do not really want to get into a habit of taking coffee (an upper) and then counteracting it with Benedry l(a downer)

    You also want to keep yourself well hydrated while at work and to make sure that you are getting enough fiber in your diet. Switching between day and nights can do a number on ones "regularity" if you know what I mean.

    As far as sleeping during the day I can never get the room dark enough to suit me so I use a sleep mask, which really helps. Tears Natural or some similar product helps keeps your eyes from getting irritated. A nice warm shower or soak in the tub really helps as does reading in bed.

    Remember just because night shift is generally quieter than days you still have to decompress after work. Think about it, there is a lot to be done at 6 am for your residents, complete paperwork, give report and then drive home. You have to come down from that last push.

    I am also fortunate to have a supportive husband (no kids) who is careful about reserving noisy projects around the house for when I get up. I would say that I get about 6 to 7 hours sleep a day and am refreshed when I get up. Hope these ideas help.
  13. by   Paige Turner RN
    Thanks fr all the good advice i start nights this coming sunday
  14. by   ajsmomma
    For me, a mother of a 5 year old, I went to my DON and asked for a schedule of consistant days. I work 3 12 hour shifts and she has a tendancy to schedule one on, one off, one on etc. So I asked to match my husband schedule (he works 12 hour days) so that I worked his off days. It doesn't always work right but I am only sleep deprived maybe 1-2 days a week instead of all week.
    What I do for sleeping during the day when I have to work is I stay up all night and go to sleep after the family wakes up and eats breakfast, so I can feel like I am apart of them for awhile. Then I put up tinfoil on my bedroom windows, which face south and I got strong light in them all day. On my days off, I try to stay up all day, with maybe a 2-3hour nap during the day so I can sleep that night. It is complicated, but it works for me.
    The best advice I can give, is to keep experimenting with different suggestions until you find one that works with your own "comfort" level.

    Good Luck

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