How do you survive night shifts in school?

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    Hello to my fellow nursing students! I am graduating in May and will be starting my final capstone of 96 hours next week in L&D! While I am so excited to be doing hours in the area where my heart is at, I am a bit nervous because it is on nights. I have yet to do a night shift in nursing school and am just wondering if those of you who have done nights can give me some advice on how to prepare for a shift? I am not a night owl so this worries me a bit. I also feel that I can't function properly if I am tired and groggy. I'm scared that it's going to be harder to survive a night shift since I still have school to worry about. Will my sleeping pattern get really messed up to the point where I can't study properly? I am also worried about eating...I don't want to gain a ton of weight by eating during the day prior to my shift and then eating all night long. What do you suggest I do for eating? Do I eat normally during the day and just have snacks throughout the night? Do I eat a large meal during the night and no snacks? Do I stay up late the night before a shift so that I can sleep during the day to prepare? :zzzzz

    Obviously, I'm a little nervous about this, so any help and advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks so much! I hope that everyone is surviving whatever part of nursing school they may be in!
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    My capstone is in the ER overnight. I'm right there with you needing advice!
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    These suggestions are just MHO, of couse, and I'm sure others will be along shortly with more ideas.

    Re: eating, yes, it is very easy to snack all night when you're working 3rd shift. What I do is eat the three regular meals/day that I would eat anyway; I just spread them out differently -- I eat breakfast when I come home, before going to bed; I eat a regular meal in the middle of the evening, before going to work, and I eat one regular meal (little or no addtiional snacking!) during the night at work (same as I would on days or evenings), usually right around the "halfway point" of the shift. Lots of hospital cafeterias aren't open on 3rd shift, so you may need to bring your dinner if you don't want to have to improvise from snack machines (v. bad idea!) Of course, there's often the possibility of ordering out, too, but that can get v. expensive.

    As for sleeping, that depends on how often you're going to be working night shift. If it's just one or two nights a week for many weeks, I would stay on a regular, diurnal sleep schedule; work the night shift, go home and sleep for a few hours (4 - 5 max), then make yourself get up and go to bed at around your usual time that night. If you're working most nights for a shorter period of time, then it would make sense to grit your teeth and "switch over" to sleeping days/staying awake nights (as much as your school schedule permits) until you're done with the nights rotation. It's the switching back and forth from one schedule to another repeatedly that really gets you!

    I really hope that you aren't going to have to work all night and then stay up to attend class the following mornings -- that can be done, but it's really brutal (again, IMHO). Good luck, and congraulations on being so close to graduating!
    Kiringat likes this.


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