Night shift nurses: tips on sleeping AT NIGHT

  1. I've been a nurse for 8 months, 5 months of NOC. I love my floor and have adjusted well to the night shift hours. I've always been somewhat of an insomniac so sleeping in the day has been easier for me. I don't love not being able to get a lot of sun and sometimes I don't think it does wonders for my mental well being, but that's a whole different issue.

    My main problem has been that I have had a lot of trouble falling asleep before 7am on my nights off. I think my circadian rhythm has completely flipped. I"ve tried Lunesta, not sleeping much the days that I'm off (get up at 2pm), but I still can't seem to fall asleep before the sun rises. That makes it difficult to get up early and do things on my off days. I'm willing to try non-pharm measures such as meditation, yoga, etc. I'd love to hear from other people.
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    Joined: Mar '11; Posts: 68; Likes: 43


  3. by   SL2014
    It depends on what time you are staying up until the night before... if you're tired enough you WILL sleep.

    What I mean is if you work from 7p-7a then come home and sleep until 4, yes you might have a problem going to sleep again... but if you come home and take a cat nap or don't sleep at all, you WILL fall asleep lol.

    That being said, I released control over my sleep recently. It was a hugely frustrating thing when I first transitioned to night shift. Now, I sleep when I'm tired, I stay awake when I'm not. If I wake up at 2am and can't sleep anymore I don't stress about it (like I used to) I just go out into the living room and do homework or something.

    If I have a hard time sleeping during the day before work... Oh well. I probably won't have that problem on the next day because I'll be so exhausted.
  4. by   Biffbradford
    I lasted 12 years doing 8hr NOC shifts 2300 - 0730, just over 1 yr doing all 12's. Doing 8s, I'd sleep from 8:30 till about 1300 or 1400, go outside, get some sun and fresh air, then take another nap from 1800 - 2200. Having just a 15 minute commute helped immensely. WHen I did 12's, I also had a 1 hour commute time each way, and that did NOT work out at all. :P
  5. by   Sun0408
    I flip back to "normal" sleeping patterns when Im off, this is what works for me. I don't live on the NOC schedule lol.. I go to bed with the rest of my family when Im off and wake about 10am the next morning, if I have to work that night well Im just up til the following morning. I tried staying up on my nights off and that was a disaster

    Try different things, you will find what works for you, oh and black out curtains are fantastic !!
  6. by   shaynurse53
    my apartment always simulates the night, by that i mean no light comes thru i can rest at anytime .
  7. by   meanmaryjean
    I do a modified sleep schedule. On my nights off (I work 7p-7a) I stay up until about 1-3am, hen sleep until 11a-2p depending). That way I can still do 'day' thing (dentist appt and the like) but it's not suck a kick in the a@@ as flipping to a 'normal' day schedule.
  8. by   That Guy
    My schedule is so messed up I cant offer any real advice. I do what my body likes and what I have adjusted to over the years. On the weeks I have off, I go to bed at 0800 after I come home from work like usual, wake up whenever, then go to bed again at 2300 with my fiance. And like that I am back on regular terms
  9. by   MatrixRn
    I worked nights for years. I am by nature a night owl, so it suited me well. I worked 12 hour shifts....on the nights that I did not work I still went to bed at 1 or 2 am. Doing that meant I could wake up in the late morning, so I could do 'day' activities.....but when I needed to switch back to being up all night it was not hard on the body.

    I think the biggest thing to remember is working 7p-7a means you are not a nine to five worker,,,,you are a night person. Your sleep patterns should be different. If you have a friend or family member wanting you up at 9am for 'breakfast' on your days off, say sure as long as they are willing to have 'lunch' with you at 3am.
  10. by   Do-over
    I've just quit trying to regulate anything. I sleep when I can, or when I am tired and get up when I am not. I do, however, set my alarm anytime I have to be somewhere at a specific time - just because I fall asleep one morning at 0500 does not mean I will be awake before 1700 if left to my own devices.

    It helps not having little ones in the house.
  11. by   Blondenurse83
    I don't have any good advice, I was just interested to read everyone's responses because I have been doing nights for about 3 years now and have no problems sleeping during the day, but my nights off are awful. I have been taking Benadryl to sleep and I hate relying on that!
  12. by   pinkiepieRN
    I work 11-7 M-F, so YMMV. On Saturday mornings (after my last shift of the week), I try to go to bed as soon as I get home around 8 am. I'll wake up around 2-5p, stay up until ~12MN, take a Melatonin and a Benadryl, and get to sleep. Unfortunately, I woke up at 4 am this morning and couldn't get back to sleep, but I think I'll live on a sleep deficit for now. Anyway, usually I'm up all day Sunday, from 6:30 am to ~12MN. Up at 6:30 am on Monday, running errands most of the day, and I take a 1.5-3 hour nap before I go in at 11 pm.

    Tuesday-Friday, I sleep from 8 am-4 pm. This somehow works for me.
  13. by   TeeKay12
    My unit does self-scheduling and that works out well for me. I try to schedule 3-4 nights in a row. On the first day (night) I work, I get up as early as possible, about 0500. I get everything done I can, work out, take a shower and go to bed by about 1100. I wake up at 1500-1600, as I have an hour drive.
    Then, I stay on a strictly "night" schedule for the 3-4 days I'm working. On the morning after my last night, I do exactly what I normally do- come home, have breakfast, shower and go to bed by 1100. I wake up at 1400 and spend the rest of the afternoon and evening with my family. I may stay up later than my husband, but not by much. After having done 3-4 12s in a row, averaging about 12,000 steps a night, caring for 6 med/surg patients, I'm ready for some rest. I'll spend my nights off on a 'day shift' schedule.
    It works for me. I know it's not ideal, but someone has to do it.
  14. by   Callie53
    I have worked nights (11-7 & 7P-7A) for 21 yrs. on my days off I stay up until 3-4am. then sleep during the day. I have found you can clean house just as well at 2am as at 2pm. I schedule appointments (dentist, dr.) for either early (after getting off work) or late PM 3-5. Family knows not to call me before 5PM, however I can 't get my mother from scheduling family meals (thanksgiving, Christmas) later than 1200. She's 83 and the only one I'll get up that early for.