Suggestions for Night Shift Survival

  1. I am set to graduate in 6 months and have already gotten a job/internship position at my first choice! I am so excited to be getting school behind me and joining the world of the gainfully employed! I have a question though...I am going to be starting on the night shift 7a-7p. Do any of you seasoned night shifters have any suggestions or tips on how to transition and survive going from doing all my work/school during the day to working night shift 3 nights a week? I have two kids and a wife who is a nurse on days, so the days she works I am going to have to be able to be dad to my kids. Any ideas or tips are appreciated. Thanks in advance!!
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  2. 11 Comments

  3. by   BadBird
    Congratulations to you!!!! When I first started on nights and lived in FL where the sun shines constantly I put aluminum foil on my bedroom windows so my room was pitch black, I also kept the ceiling fan on, unplugged the phones. Make sure you get enough sleep for your long shift, take healthy snacks, if you load up on carbs you will get sleepy, at least I did. Believe me you will keep busy at work but on the drive home I would do the head nod sometimes.
  4. by   bellehill
    I always found it easier to work my shifts in a row so my sleep pattern stayed the same for three nights (even though it was messed up). Eat breakfast when you get home in the morning and I try to limit my fluids after 5am so I am not up all morning running to the bathroom. I don't have kids so I can't help you with that but I would look into daycare for the mornings you come home just to get a little rest. Welcome to night shift, the most awesome shift to work!!
  5. by   rnmaven
    Quote from bigwavedave
    I am set to graduate in 6 months and have already gotten a job/internship position at my first choice! I am so excited to be getting school behind me and joining the world of the gainfully employed! I have a question though...I am going to be starting on the night shift 7a-7p. Do any of you seasoned night shifters have any suggestions or tips on how to transition and survive going from doing all my work/school during the day to working night shift 3 nights a week? I have two kids and a wife who is a nurse on days, so the days she works I am going to have to be able to be dad to my kids. Any ideas or tips are appreciated. Thanks in advance!!
    Hi Bigwavedave,

    Sounds like you are going to have a full plate with continuing school, watching kids and working nights.

    I guess my first thought is.....don't fall into the trap of using the nightshift as a way to save money on child care. It just doesn't work. After 12 hours working you need to sleep. I see many nurses (usually female) who try to stay up with the kids and it's not fair to their kids, their coworkers and their patients. Personally, I need at least 6 hours of sound sleep after working all night. Especially with the 12 hour shifts. It's a marathon and you can't be tired when you come to work.

    Good luck!
  6. by   moia
    I have loved night shift from the start. In fact I love it so much I have never worked any other shift. Nights is when the action and the camaradarie really lives.
    Our night shift includes a long sleep break which really helps. try to see if anyone is interested in putting all your breaks together for one long sleep break.
    I recommend lots of fruit and lots of water during the night shift.
    Dehydration, constipation and IBS can be a real problem.
    For sleeping avoid caffiene 4 hours before shift ends.
    A lot of people shower when they get home but that can be a really bad move. If you absolutely have to bathe have a warm bath.
    Gravol can be a real help, it is a motion sickness anti nauseant available in the US and canada OTC, some go with benadryl..try them both.
    You will usually need something to help get to sleep. It is really important that your sleep be undisturbed..even if it is 4 hours it is better than 8 hours with constant interruptions.
    On the morning after you have finished your last night shift a lot of people recommend not going to bed during the day instead go to bed aroud 8or 9pm. You will then wake up with the day ahead to do whatever you want.
    Flipping from nights to days is pretty hard on your health and some research has been done that shows shift work takes alot of years off your life span so if it is at all possible try to stick to one shift.
    Your diet is another big issue with night shift, avoid eating all night or having a big meal at your dinner break...it will exhaust you .
    Stick with unprocessed food like fruit, nuts, vegetables and lots of water.
    A lot of nurses will swear to you that they got fat on the night shift, it is true..its really easy to eat a ton of crap from the vending machines. Don't bring change with you if you can help it.

    Night shift can be wonderful for autonomy and getting to really know the people you work with...try to start with a positive attitude and in time I hope you will be able to get the hang of it.
    Last edit by moia on Apr 4, '04
  7. by   canoehead
    A dark cool room, no phone or doorbell audible in the bedroom, and a fan are what gets me through. I also have casseroles made ahead so I don't even have to think when I'm on a stretch of shifts, just sleep and work. Even so, I'm useless for the first 24hours after a stretch of tough shifts.
  8. by   LesJenRN
    The kid thing....I am heading to night shift in a few weeks myself. It has been 10 years. Back then I was single with no kids and loved working night shift. The hospital is a whole different place without all of the extra people that are around during the day. It is hard on the body though...... I now have 2 young children and am 10 years older and I have absolutely no idea how this is going to work out!!! Daycare costs will go up because I HAVE TO SLEEP otherwise I will be a mental/physical wreck. All you night shifters out there....do you sleep at all during the day before you start your first shift???
  9. by   canoehead
    God yes, take a nap during the afternoon or you will feel like blended poop at 3am.
  10. by   gwenith
    check out this website

    http://www.enw.org/NightShift.htm

    I have read a research report where apples will give you the same "wake-up" and caffiene only not as intense and more prolonged - now I always have an apple or two in my bag and I will munch them on the way home in the car - very good way of staying awake.

    HAve a pair of wrap around sunglasses for driving home - the key to adaptation is not to let full sunlight hit your eyes.
  11. by   talaxandra
    I've worked nights at least six months/year for the last eight+ years and love it. My poor body is so used to being awake and asleep at bizarre hours that (hidden bonus) I don't get jetlag!
    The key for me is having a pre-bed routine, to remind my body that I'm getting ready for bed - a shower/bath (I can't go to bed without washing - I can feel the hospital on me. The one time I did, I couldn't sleep, had to get up, shower, wash my hair and all the bed linen. A plan that kinda backfired!), somwthing to eat, a glass of water and a couple of calcium tablets. My mother (a naturopath) suggested the calcium. She says it resets seritonin levels; I think it may well be placebo, but as long as it owrks I'm happy, and I can always do with a bit more Ca++.
    I also stay up all day on my first night off, and go back into day rhythym while I'm off work, then stay up until about 0500 the day of my first night back on.
  12. by   traumaRUs
    All posters have one thing in common - ensure you get uninterrupted sleep. I did the "work nights, go to school days" thing with small kids. Its very difficult.
  13. by   Gompers
    Quote from gwenith
    HAve a pair of wrap around sunglasses for driving home - the key to adaptation is not to let full sunlight hit your eyes.

    I've heard about that too! Another thing I read and am considering doing is getting my next pair of glasses with a very light rose tint to them. I heard that it increases melatonin levels over time. Anyone else hear of this?

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