Surviving night shift?

  1. I'm a newly licensed registered nurse who will start working next month. As you probably guessed, I took the night shift position. I'm all geered up for hard working and uncoming changes in my daily life schedules, but I have to admit that I still know only a little of it.
    It will be greatly appreciated if you, experieced nurses out there could share your knowhow or wisdom on how to effectively manage your schedule (and even life) during night shift.
    Thank you....
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  2. 16 Comments

  3. by   HotSpam
    Wow,

    I used to work night shift when I was a CNA before becoming an RN and while in nursing school too.

    I don't know how I did it. But that won't help you. Here are some things I did to help me but some of them might be obvious...sorry:

    I would wake up just in time to get ready for work and then do any running around like grocery shopping in the morning after work. That way I felt the most refreshed at work.

    I would try to sleep 8 hrs straight and kept the room dark with a big comforter I threw over the curtain. Turn off the phone cause the rest of the world thinks you should be awake.

    I tried to avoid some common night shift things like drinking coffee all night. I tried to trick my body into thinking it was "supposed" to be awake. Once in the groove it wasn't too bad.

    Days off should keep the same schedule as days worked, but I never could pull that one off. I would wake up at 9:30pm and fall back asleep at midnight and sleep through the night.

    Basically, night shift screws up your circadian rhythm. Some people can do it, some can't. I did it but not very well.

    One nice thing though is the morning, and the sunrise. The dew on the leaves and fresh air. Seems best at the end of the shift. :-)

    HotSpam
  4. by   MollyJ
    That I am posting ADVICE here is laughable. I made it 15 months on nights and wrecked my car 3 times. My advice is, "you gotta know when to fold 'em".
    But I agree with most of what Hot Spam wrote. Avoid caffiene. Treat your sleep/rest like the holy thing it is. Do turn off the phone. If you have kids, get them a baby sitter so that you can sleep. Make your room as dark as possible. Don't be afraid to put in for day shift transfer right now. As a new grad, I thought the nurses that did that were ignoble, but they were actually realists.

    Good luck
  5. by   Jason-ACNP
    If possible, I would turn the ringer on your phone off. Don't worry, you won't miss a call from the hospital telling you that you've been canceled due to over-staffing
  6. by   JennieBSN
    Ooooooooooooooh. My poor, tired body!!! I am putting in to get off nights right now. For a while, it was fine...but now I just feel like I have no LIFE.

    I agree with everything the other posters have said...especially about TURNING OFF YOUR PHONE. I tell people, "I don't care if the pope calls, if it's really that important he'll CALL BACK." If you are married and your spouse cannont get the clue that 3pm means 3am to your body, hey, do what one of my girlfriends did...CALL HIM FROM WORK AT 3AM...say cheerfully, 'Hey!! Whatcha doin?!' Then act confused and hurt when he/she acts grouchy. Heh heh. You'll only have to do it ONCE.

    Drink plenty of water at work...I'm serious. 8-10 glasses, no cheating. You'll feel better.

    Finally, when you KNOW you won't be able to sleep, benadryl 50mg is the wonder drug. Oh, yes, and don't drink alcohol when you come home....drinking at 7am because 'it's 7pm to MY body' isn't cool...it means you're an alcoholic.

    Good luck, welcome to nursing, and GET A NICE PILLOW.
  7. by   nurs4kids
    There are 2 types of nurses: those who love night shift and those who hate it. I am one of those who love night shift. I have 2 small kids, and hire a babysitter to watch them while i sleep. I only work 3 twelve's, so it's bad for three days, nice for four. I have no problem sleeping in the day, but have coworkers who do (many had windows tinted to block light). You have to look out for yourself, because the rest of the world forgets that some of us work nights. The phone will ring all day, and it will be family/friends who KNOW you worked the night before. I suggest if you have kids, get a beeper and give the # only to the babysitter, let her/him know it's for emergencies only and then turn the phone off.
    You'll either like it or not, and it won't take you but a couple months to decide. If you like it, great! If you don't, request day shift. GOOD LUCK!
  8. by   grnvillechick
    good luck is all I can say, Hon!!! I have been working nights(12 hr shifts) for the last 10 weeks because of the staffing shortage at my hospital...it is alot easier in the general workload sense-- except for the night owls who won't settle down and some ER admits. Days are crazy at times ...but I cannot handle nights at all and return to days in 5 more shifts. For example, tonight is my night off...I only slept a mere 4 hours this am...tried to sleep tonight...and woke up wide awake and wired at 12 midnight...it is now 1:30 am..the Benadryl has yet to kick in...I even ate high carbs in an effort to get sleepy..no dice...my house is a mess...I haven't cooked a homemade meal in forever...and I feel horrible, because I am a newlywed to boot....all I can say is put in your time and pay your dues..get the experience..and get off nights ASAP!!!! Good Luck!!!
  9. by   babynurselsa
    hey this from a night shifter who like being a night shifter. The thought of rising in the morning just isn't for me. Just remember to get your sleep. The world as a whole jsut don't get the concept of the upside down life. stick a note on your front door stating that there is a day sleeper in the house to hopefully shoo away those door to door activities. Be very explcit with friends and family that they better not even think about calling before 1600 unless it is life and death.
    And for Kday I disagree with your alchoholic remark. Me and my friends all work nights and get together about once a week ofter work for a couple of beers. We do not see the difference than our dayshift counterparts who go out together after work for a beer.
  10. by   res04lly
    I work nights right now and you either love it or hate it. I sleep when the kids are in school, turn the air on, and ringer off and go to sleep for a couple of hours-get up do what i have to do and then lay down for a couple more hours in the evening. If i have a couple days off i still try and keep the same routine or i am back to square one when i hit my 11-7 stretch. You have to know your limitations and how much sleep you need to function. Eat light at night or you will gain weight-20 pounds here and take vitamins too to keep your resistance up . This what i do.
  11. by   canoehead
    I am a night shifter, and prefer days but there is a bit less pressure and definitely fewer politics at night. I can take the extra five minutes to linger with family or a confused patient. We also have a "family" potluck every weekend.

    When I first started nursing it took me a good year to get used to sleeping days. If anyone wakes you after 12 noon you will be up for the day and just start to get sleepy at 5pm, so protect yourself. It's true that lying in bed with eyes closed and relaxed is almost as good as actual sleep, so long as you are not obsessing about work or the stuff you could be doing if you were up.

    Get a fan or air conditioner to allow you to snuggle in fluffy blankets and to give you some white noise. It's tough to hear all the action outside and not be up with them. If you have kids get that beeper, babysitter, and a lock for the door, and USE them. Unplug the phone, or you will be up for the day because of some stupid telemarketer.

    I never drink coffee on days off, and if I've had a tough stretch of shifts I sometimes sleep the clock around on my first day off, usually in front of the TV. If I can allow myself that I am set to go on my next day off and can get a lot done. I drink coffee only at work and not after 2am or so- I get sluggish around 2 so take a cup or so between 1 and 2 and it gives me a boost til 6, and I'm ready to sleep after. Put a towel or mask over your eyes when you get home to hlp you sleep, sometimes if you lie there and your eyes are closed because of the towel you fall asleep by mistake.

    I have found for myself that a lunch from home with tomato sauce on it, and oranges perk me up so well it's like a second wind, as good as coffee. My coworkers don't report the same effects, and the dietician thinks it's psychological but it works. I also take a break to walk outside in the cold and fresh air if I get too stale in the middle of the shift. Try to stay steadily busy, even if you have to restock or check expiry dates because once you sit down it's like you have cement in your butt.

    Good luck, let us know how it goes.
  12. by   moonshadeau
    Working night shifts can sometimes be a lot less stressful than working day shift. You have a lot less of the politics that you have to deal with on day shift. Then you have a lot more responsibility as well. The only advice I can tell you is to not bounce between shifts. It is way too hard. If you are on straight nights that is great. But if they say oh, you can work these two days, have a day off come in for the night shift.. It never ceases. My body just never got used to it. I like everyone else, stay away from the coffee. When I feel like I am about to fall asleep, I get up and do something. I avoid reading cuz that puts me asleep faster than anything. I learned how to turn the phone off, just not the answering machine. When that thing starts to beep, I could just kill someone. So turn off your answering machine too.
  13. by   Yalonda1
    I agree with all of the other posts. I sleep with a big blanket up to my bedroom window and I also turn all the ringers off on the phones so that I can get some sleep and any running around that I may need to do, I either try to do it before I go to work or if it is something that can wait, I will do it in the morning when I get off. Best of luck to you.
  14. by   waggy-2
    Hi. I,too am a night shift worker and have been for 14 years. I really like it. As other posts stated, you either like it or you don't. It does take a while to get used to. I like being home during the day. I was working 2300-0730 on a M/S floor, and about two months ago, I started working 1800-0630 in CCU. Enjoy my work and always have. The people I have worked with are great. I wish you good luck when you start your new job.
    And remember eventually you will get to sleep.

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