Please help new grad with LTC night shift

  1. Hi all! I have posted this question on a few different sections without any response so I'm hoping that you all can help me.

    I am a new grad with no prior nursing experience. I am starting on a 270 bed skilled nursing unit on September 9th, 11-7 shift. I have a 2 year old daughter and husband who works daylight.

    I'm wondering if anyone has any tips for me on how to adjust, how to make sure I get enough sleep and still balance my family, how to flip on my days off, etc? I am also really worried about time management and being the new nurse that may get crap. I just want to go into this prepared.

    What are some things I should take with me on a nightly basis? How do you eat on night shift cause I probably won't want big meals, like you would in the daylight hours.

    Just anything you can think of, please help. I'm worried about this new job and would greatly appreciate any input.
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  2. Visit eelise11 profile page

    About eelise11

    Joined: May '12; Posts: 114; Likes: 25

    9 Comments

  3. by   bluegeegoo2
    Wear dark glasses when you leave work, as you know your body sees sunlight and thinks it's time to "get up". Make sure your room at home is dark with black-outs on the windows, quiet, and at a comfortable temp for sleep. Keep as close to the same hours as possible. Try to get up around 2-3 p.m. to spend time with your family and run errands. Take a nap before work if you need to. Eat healthy, protein-type snacks and fresh fruits/veggies for meals at night. You're right: You won't want large/heavy/greasy meals at night. From experience, I tended toward the snack machine at work which was filled with carbs. They don't work for the long haul and only serve to add weight. I learned the hard way.
    You will learn time management. It really is trial and error until you get a feel for what needs to be done and by when.
    Try to find a mentor on nights. I was lucky enough to work with a seasoned nurse who was very patient with me and taught me what it is to be a nurse "in the real world". I will forever be grateful to her. (Thanks Kathy!)
    Lastly, congrats on the new job! You will do fine. Best of luck!
    Last edit by bluegeegoo2 on Aug 30, '13 : Reason: Forgot English, momentarily
  4. by   eelise11
    Quote from bluegeegoo2
    Wear dark glasses when you leave work, as you know your body sees sunlight and thinks it's time to "get up". Make sure your room at home is dark with black-outs on the windows, quiet, and at a comfortable temp for sleep. Keep as close to the same hours as possible. Try to get up around 2-3 p.m. to spend time with your family and run errands. Take a nap before work if you need to. Eat healthy, protein-type snacks and fresh fruits/veggies for meals at night. You're right: You won't want large/heavy/greasy meals at night. From experience, I tended toward the snack machine at work which was filled with carbs. They don't work for the long haul and only serve to add weight. I learned the hard way.
    You will learn time management. It really is trial and error until you get a feel for what needs to be done and by when.
    Try to find a mentor on nights. I was lucky enough to work with a seasoned nurse who was very patient with me and taught me what it is to be a nurse "in the real world". I will forever be grateful to her. (Thanks Kathy!)
    Lastly, congrats on the new job! You will do fine. Best of luck!
    Thank you so much! I will try to put this into practice. And also, I love the reason for your edit. Made me giggle during a really bad day. Thank you for that.
  5. by   bluegeegoo2
    You're welcome!
  6. by   DalekRN
    Make sure you are getting enough sleep for you. That may mean sleeping from 8 am to 5pm. I would do day care if I were you, my hubby happens to be able to care for our two year old during the day so I can sleep. I would not be able to function without solid sleep and I don't recommend it.
  7. by   turnforthenurse
    I don't have children so I cannot really offer advice on that. Different strokes work for different folks, really.

    As for sleeping and adjusting to the night shift, I try to stay up as late as possible (into the wee hours of the morning) the night/morning before my shift. Get some room darkening curtains if you can, or use a sleep mask. Keep the room dark and cool. I always have to have a fan on for some white noise and to also help keep my room cool. Turn your phone off. I basically tell everyone that your 2pm is my 2am and they seem to understand. They know to only get ahold of me in an emergency. Sometimes I will take a Benadryl to help me sleep if I am trying to get back onto my night shift sleeping schedule.

    As for coming off of it and going back to "normal people hours" lol, I come home and sleep for a few hours, wake up, go about my day and just go to bed earlier. Some of my coworkers will work all night and stay up all day and go to bed early in the evening. I couldn't do that. Also note that it is much easier to do this when you have your shifts clustered in a row. It's much more difficult to do this when your shifts are spread out throughout the week. I personally like to have my shifts together for this reason but lately that hasn't been feasible.

    Drink coffee if you have to. I'm a coffee fiend, lol. Try to cut off your caffeine intake by 0100 or 0200 so that it won't interfere with your sleep later. If you feel like you're dragging by the time 0300 or 0400 rolls around, get up and go take a walk around the unit. Sometimes I will drink a sip or two of some coffee and that will help keep me awake. It won't interfere with my sleep, either.

    Also, drink lots of water. It's so easy to become dehydrated because we're so busy caring for others that we don't have the time to take care of ourselves.

    I also suggest putting on some sunglasses for the drive home. When light hits the eye it interferes with melatonin production, which is what your body produces in darkness and helps you sleep. Just please be careful if you have a long drive home. I'm lucky I only live about 8 minutes from where I work, but in the past I have had to drive an hour to and from work and that was very difficult for me after working 12 hours at night. I can't tell you how many times I dozed off and almost crashed into the median. It's very, very dangerous. In that case, bring some healthy snacks (like some almonds or grapes or something) and munch on your way home. Turn the music up, bring the windows down...whatever you need to do to help keep yourself awake during your drive home.

    When I do get home, it's usually between 0730-0800. It depends, really. Some mornings I get home earlier, some I get home later. I'll take a shower then go straight to bed. I usually sleep until about 3 or 4pm but sometimes that isn't always feasible. If I can't sleep well, I'll get up and do whatever and then I can usually squeeze in a nap before my shift starts.

    As for food, I usually take leftovers. The crockpot has become my best friend. I'm always too tired to cook when I'm on my night shift schedule so I have learned to make good use of the crockpot. Prep time is usually very minimal so I just throw in whatever I am making the morning of and when I wake up, dinner is already done. I also love snacks. I take a lot of fresh fruit (bananas are a favorite, also apples, grapes, blueberries/blackberries/raspberries), maybe some string cheese, greek yogurt (I love both Oikos and Chobani), granola bar(s) (I like Kashi), some PB and crackers (or with an apple! delicious!), etc.
  8. by   silverbat
    these are good responses and I can't add more, but will say that if you do a search in the search engine for allnurses, you will find numerous responses on simliar threads that might help you out. I worked nights 15 years and LOVE them.... I work days now,,,,
  9. by   eelise11
    Thank you all so much!
  10. by   copeRN
    practice yoga and meditation. Im serious. You can't let work bring you down and when you practice stopping and breathing and being in the moment you drive away stress. Exercising and eating right will keep you happy and strong. Those hrs are hard work but you can do it and with a healthy mind you will stay positive at work and at home!
    Last edit by copeRN on Aug 31, '13 : Reason: typo
  11. by   NurseNightOwl
    Avoid fast food breakfast on the way home, especially if you're going to bed right when you get home. I've gained a few lbs in just the 1 month since starting my first job (nights in LTC).

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