Tip on adjusting to nights

  1. I'm starting a new job shortly and I'll be working 12 hr. shifts from 6:30 pm to 6"30am kReally need some tips on adjusting to this schedule. Never worked many nights. I'll be working 3 shifts per week. We do our own scheduling. Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated.
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  2. 12 Comments

  3. by   Chellyse66
    Hey Sis,
    Here are a few tricks I use.
    First try to schedule your nights in a cluster, back to back.
    I put up darkening shades in my bedroom and have bought a soothing noise machine (rain is my favorite and it drowns out the kids lol)
    If you need to take sleep aids the best is melatonin or tylenol pm.
    If you are weight conscious be sure to eat when you get up not when going to sleep, nights put on the pounds faster.
    The pace is different so if you drink coffee bring it.
    On your first day off just sleep a few hours in the am then get up for the rest of the day, better transition for the few days in between. Melatonin works great for this too.
    If I think of some more I will post. Good Luck....I am off to work!!!
  4. by   Genista
    Hello Sis-
    I worked a brief stint on nocs (8 mos). Chelleyse66 had some good tips. I used "blackout" draperies, white noise, earplugs, etc. to give the illusion of peaceful nighttime when I would sleep during the day.It was always hard when some neighbor's leaf blower or lawnmower would be blaring out my bedroom window! LOL

    I have heard of some people wearing sunglasses as they drive home after work (in the early am) to acclimate to a more natural night time "sleep mode." Nothing wakes me up more than a bright ray of sunlight! Turn off your phone ringer when you sleep & let your answering machine pick up calls. There are some more good tips at the sites below. Best of luck!

    http://www.enw.org/NightShift.htm
    http://www.cep.ca/en/health/xx01.htm

    ~kona

    [ May 29, 2001: Message edited by: kona2 ]
  5. by   codebluechic
    Take good care of yourself on your days off.I always felt so unhealthy on nights, I made sure to exercise and eat right. And make sure to get out in the sun sometime! avoid that night shift pallor!
  6. by   sis
    Thaks to all of you for the tips. I really appreciate them. I'll let you know how it works out, Tricia
  7. by   bigjay
    One thing I find helpfull before a bank of night shifts is to try to acclimitize your body the day before. Stay up as late as you can the night before your first night shift. This'll help your body adjust to the time difference a little more gently.

    Turn your phone ringer off during the day when you're sleeping. Try not to schedule anything important on the days when you're coming off nights and going back in. Eat small, healthy snacks through your shift. Bring them yourself or else the salty and fattening stuff in the vending machines becomes irresistable at 4 am...

    Hope this help!
  8. by   kennedyj
    I think nights are great. Its slower at work which means more time to surf the web ( t-1 line access). On my days off it is great going to the clubs> I have slept all day and am well rested. Except when the close at 2-3 AM. I have to go home still not sleepy.
    Jared
  9. by   st4304
    When I first started to work nights, it went like this: Start assessing pts at 7pm -- the first four hours go by pretty fast, get report on pts picking up for night shift; do assessments on them and check in on previous pts; get done with assessments around 1:30 to 2am (I chart as I go); as soon as I would get to sit down, I would immediately start to get sleepy. The ONLY way I could stay awake was to keep busy. I would check the code cart (great way to get comfortable with it!), I would help other nurses who were really busy or behind, answer beeping pumps (oh where oh where foreart thou?), clean the nursing station (this was a never-ending task), restock paper supplies, etc.; then around 4am would check on my people again, empty foleys, I&Os, empty trash and dirty linen hampers, pass morning meds, and before I knew it, it was time for walking report and then I got to go home. I did this for about 3 months before I really adjusted to nights. It didn't matter if I slept right before I went in or stayed up, I was still tired around 2 am. When I transferred to ICU a few months later, it was easier to stay awake because of the acuity of the patients.

    My advise is to eat small, healthy snacks throughout the night and stay away from the coffee or caffinated pops. You'll just be tired and wired. Drink water and KEEP BUSY!!! Before you know it, you'll be well adjusted to nights. I got to the point where I could take my kids to the public pool, entrust them to the lifeguards, and then sleep, sleep, sleep -- despite the bright sun, loud music, screaming kids, and lifeguard whistles!

    Good luck. Morning will be here before you know it! Peace.

    Sherri
  10. by   NursePooh
    [QUOTE]Originally posted by Chellyse66:
    [QB]Here are a few tricks I use.
    First try to schedule your nights in a cluster, back to back. I put up darkening shades in my bedroom and have bought a soothing noise machine (rain is my favorite and it drowns out the kids lol)
    If you need to take sleep aids the best is melatonin or tylenol pm.
    QB[QUOTE]

    I never did have problems with my room being too light; after a 12 hour night shift, I could fall asleep propped against a wall somewhere. I did find a noise machine helpful, although beware the "babbling brook" setting, as it always made me wake up having to pee Turning off the phone is a definite must. For sleep aids, I found the B&B combo (beer and benadryl) to be quite useful when I had been off for a few nights and had to try and sleep in the afternoon to get ready for my first night back on. Don't take more than 25 mg if you go for the "combo" or if you can't sleep at least 8 hours, or you will be too groggy when you get up. I am sure I was the talk of my neighborhood when I would sit out on my deck in a bathrobe drinking beer at 8 in the morning
    Be careful driving home in the mornings. If I was REALLY tired, I would make sure not to use the BR before leaving, and the bladder pain would keep me awake on the drive Roll down the windows and crank up the tunes; the last thing you want to do is die from falling asleep at the wheel in broad daylight
  11. by   burger914
    When you work third shift, do you recommened sleeping as soon as you get home in the morning or sleeping later in the afternoon?
  12. by   CaduceusPRN
    I worked several months of twelve hour nights and concur with most of what has already been said. Definitely try to schedule your work nights in a block then your time off in a block. Switching between the two is very difficult.
    Pay attention to diet and exercise. You are messing with your circadian rhythms by working nights, so give your body the best chance it can have, to cope with this.
    Even on slow nights, stay busy. If you sit down and relax, you may want to go to sleep and then have trouble being alert to patient needs. There is always a buddy who can use your help, and this pays dividends when YOU need help.
    Don't short yourself on sleep to get things done at home. Would a day nurse even consider getting up at 2am to do laundry/errands etc before work? Then why would you do it at 2pm?
    Look after yourself - enjoy the less frantic pace - and enjoy the $$$.
  13. by   tinkertoys
    I've been working nights for almost 7 years, and I agree that it's important to schedule your work in blocks- it minimizes the amount of your off time lost to sleep.
    During your work stretch, don't eat or drink too much before bed. Make the room as dark as possible, and use some source of "white" noise. The answering machine is your friend... don't cut your sleep time short for anything less than an emergency- remember THIS IS YOUR NIGHTTIME. Follow the same routine every day... it helps set the stage for sleep.
    I have had a few close calls myself while driving home after work. the 'zombie state' will sneak up on you... roll down the windows, crank up the tunes, and get a snack for the trip home. It will keep you busy and awake, and by the time you get home, you'll have breakfast out of the way. then you can take a nice, warm shower, and head for bed.
    Night shift can be hard to adjust to, and not everyone can do it, but there are definite advantages. Good luck with the new job!!
  14. by   NursePooh
    Originally posted by burger914:
    <STRONG>When you work third shift, do you recommened sleeping as soon as you get home in the morning or sleeping later in the afternoon?</STRONG>
    I think it depends on the individual. I couldn't usually go straight to bed (unless it was my third twelve in a row and/or the night from hell), so I would sit and "unwind" in the lazyboy I bought myself. That's usually where I'd end up falling asleep, then wake up to the hootin' and hollerin' on Jerry Springer
    If I had worked the night before, I usually slept from nine in the morning till about three or four in the afternoon. If I had been off for a couple of nights, it got easy to get turned around, and that's when I'd start taking the B&B and lying down around two in the afternoon in the hopes of getting at least 4 hours for my first night back. Physically, eight hour shifts were easier for me. Less nights off meant less getting turned around. But it also meant that, outside of my job, I didn't have a life.

    Oh, and if you have a family to cook for, the crock pot is your friend You can throw it together before you go to sleep, and wake up with dinner already done. I never could get used to eating pot roast for "breakfast" though

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