PLEASE HELP... starting the night shift

  1. Well, I landed my dream job, an L&D nurse, and I am finally coming off my orientation, which my institution had me on for 7 months (they were wonderful!) Anyway, the only way I could get this job was to work nights, which is 7:00pm - 7:30am three nights a week, and I am FREAKING OUT!

    I am 40 years old, and have 2 children, 12 and 15, and a husband who is a police officer who rotates shifts (7am-3pm/3pm-11pm).

    I HAVE NEVER WORKED A NIGHT IN MY LIFE, and am asking for ALL tips and suggestions I can get. I am a bit on the anal side, and have pretty much convinced myself that I am going to end up with all sorts of health problems, so please, any and all shift workers, unite and help me get through what may last many years, as day shifts are very hard to come by.

    Thanks in advance!
    Cindy
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  2. 21 Comments

  3. by   NicoleRN07
    HI. I've worked night shift for all 7 years of my nursing career, and I absolutely love it! It works well with my family. I don't have to worry about finding a babysitter for my son most days because my hubby and I work opposites, so it makes things easier. As for suggestions....make sure you nap a few hours on days where you didn't work the night before. If you've worked the night before and do not have to work the current night, only sleep a few hours so you'll be able to have a normal night's sleep. Take healthy snacks for the night....sometimes things get slow and all you have to do is eat (I gained a few pounds my first year). You will be tired until you get used to it, and your family will probably say that you're ill, but it will pass.
  4. by   kate1114
    First of all, congrats on your dream job!

    I have worked all shifts, but for the past few years I've been working nights. It works out best for my family and for my school.

    If my husband can get the kids ready for school, a lot of times I will stay up very late the night before I start working. I use this time for household management, cleaning (if it won't wake others), watching a movie, reading a book, etc. I consider it a bit of "me" time. Then I sleep as long as I can the day that I have to go in to work.

    If I have to be up in the morning, or can't sleep in, I try to get a nap or just lay down with a book or a crossword book. I get as much rest as possible, and just a couple hours' nap can usually sustain me quite well. These methods work well enough that I am usually able to forgo caffeine as I dislike coffee and I'm trying to get away from sodas.

    Sometimes I take a benadryl *very* early if I think I won't get sleep. I try not to do that either.

    For weekends, I have a set of earplugs that work great. I usually don't hear anything until the alarm, and sometimes even then my husband has to wake me up.

    Overall I really enjoy nights and doubt I'd go back to days in a clinical capacity. The work is a little slower paced (maybe not as much in L&D LOL), there are fewer people wandering around, and I have a great group of coworkers. Good luck
  5. by   mermette
    Where there's a will, there's a way!

    I'm 38 years old and started working night shift a year ago when I got my first nursing job. I had a three month old at home at the time who we just didn't want to put into daycare. I worked the weekends and came home on Monday morning (after 3 twelves in a row) to stay up with my son all day - my husband left for work as I walked through the door. It was dreadful for the first few months, but I adjusted to it.

    Just like a previous poster suggested, nap when you can (especially a few hours on the day you start your run). If you can't out-and-out nap, at least lie down and RELAX! Only sleep three to four hours after your last shift and go to bed early that night to get back to a normal schedule. Keep healthy snacks with you and drink plenty of water. Coffee can be a god-send and a curse - do what works for you, but try to avoid it after 3 AM because it can really hose up your sleep. :smilecoffeecup: It will take you a little while to figure out what your stomach will tolerate at night (for me it's breakfast foods), but make sure you eat (you'll need the energy). Take your vitamins! Last, but not least - have FUN. I have oriented on days and wouldn't do it for anything - the nightshift is just different, you'll see what I mean. It will take a few months (probably), but you'll adjust!

    Enjoy your new position and good luck.
  6. by   meownsmile
    You probly are in a pretty good position actually. Your kids are old enough and your husband rotates shifts so finding a responsible adult to monitor your kids the evenings you may need to have someone will probly be pretty easy. Your kids will be in school all day so you should be able to get decent sleep. 3 days a week isnt that bad. Are they all together or spread throughout the week?
    Make sure you take something nourishing for a snack through the night, people usually start getting a little munchie about midnight-2am. Take enough to share with co-workers sometimes. Keep hydrated. People tend to ignore their own hydration even though we are keeping strict I&O's and even getting daily weights on people to monitor theirs. Dehydration is a major evil for the night shift worker.
    Give it a while to get your system used to it. It will take a while and you will feel achy and probly grumpy for a while until your system gets used to it. Use something (OTC) to help you sleep during the day to get started forming the habit of sleeping during the day.
  7. by   Belinda-wales
    For me nights is the only option as I hate being away fro my Kids for 12 hrs on the day shift it just dose not work for me also I find there are far too many people around on the day shift LOL
    As everyone has said take your sleep when you can get it also I would try not to work too many split shifts if you are going to work three I would do a two and a one but you will find out what works for you and your family nights is not for everyone but for me it has allowed be too work whilst still having loads of time with my three young boys.
    Good luck I hope it works well for you.
  8. by   glb1960
    Please start out with an adjustment to your attitude. If you begin this new job expecting to get sick, I promise that you will. You know that the most important organ in healing is the brain and it's expections and attitudes about healing. Expect to enjoy your new position. Be excited to welcome those new babies to this world. Believe in your strengths. Know and work on your weaknesses. Continue to eat right, exercise and enjoy life. Please DO NOT stress yourself out over "maybe's". There are very good suggestions on surviving noc's here already. Just get your heart, soul and expectations wrapped around your new job and take off.

    Good luck, Gary
  9. by   cinthern
    Thanks to all have answered me. I appreciate it SO much. Just a few questions: Kate, you said you have earplugs that work great, what brand are they? And all of you on the night shift, whats the best way to work, do your 3 in a row? Spread them out? Please let me know. Again, thanks, you are all a GOD SEND!

    Cindy
  10. by   tencat
    So far two in a row has worked really well for me if I have at least two nights off between those and the next shift. I have a three in a row starting tomorrow night, and I'm a little worried about that as I am DEAD after two. I've been on nights for only a month, but already I can tell I'm adjusting to it, more or less. The key for me is to get sleep when I can. For example, on my days off I sleep extra to make up for the hours I miss when I'm working. Some people are blessed with the ability to sleep after 3:00 in the afternoon. So far, I am not one of them. So it's absolutely essential for me to sleep extra on days off. I kinda like nights so far......except from 2-5 AM....I find that the hardest time to stay awake.
  11. by   Midwest4me
    Congrats Cinthern on your great job! Here are my pointers: Treat it like a day shift: on your first night sleep 3-5 hours right before you go in to work. Stay up a few hours after you get home in the morning(I work 4 10-hr night shifts. When I get home from work I stay up till noon then go to bed to get 6-8 hours' sleep right before I leave) and do some housework or whatever. It works for me...sleep is more consistent. I also periodically take a Desyrel to help me stay asleep. Good luck to you!
  12. by   SmilingBluEyes
    Take care of your physical and emotional wellbeing. That is to say, eat well, exercise and make sure others respect your sleep schedule, including your family, friends and coworkers.

    GOOD LUCK!!!

    also: go easy on the caffeine and simple carbs. These are wicked cravings for night-shifters and they make things worse, not better for you.
  13. by   NurseNora
    Make sure your sleeping room is dark enough. I've found that I do best with a sleep mask--an expensive one that doesn't fit tightly over my eyeballs, but does fit around the nose so there are no light leaks.

    Many people gain weight on night shift because they eat to stay awake. Bring healthy snacks high in protein (carbs can make you sleepier). Be sure to drink enough and take the time to empty your bladder when needed (why more nurses don't have UTI's , I'll never know).

    When you're working nights, a single day off is useless, so if you have any input on your schedule try to avoid work a day, off a day, work a day. Some people do best working all 3 shifts in a row, others not. You'll have to see what works best for you.

    Good luck. You'll discover that we night workers are much more fun than the day people.
  14. by   nrse4evr
    Congrats cithern on your Night Shift job. everyone has offered a lot of really good advise. You will jsut have to see what works for you and what doesn't. i have worked primarily 11-7 or 7p-7a for most of my 20+ years as an RN and some things work and some don't. What is important is that you don't allow your family or friends to take advantage of you because you are home during the day. They classify your sleep as a 'nap' call you in the middle of your sleep and seem surprised that you are asleep at 1 in the afternoon. They have a hard time understanding that 1pm to you is 1am to them.. Your childrens schools also think that since you are home during the day they have free reign to call you for things that cal wait. Most of the time that my kids were living athome I had to leave the phone on in case they needed me (single mom). If you can turn off the phone so you don't get the telemarketers, charity calls, and friends who just want to chat in the middle of your night.
    I found that my sons became very protctive of my sleep. Cautioning their friends not to come over during my sleep time and explaining who Mom is still in her PJs at 4 in the afternoon. They knew not to disturb me unless there was potential loss of life or limb.
    Night shift is much less chaotic and it's interesting to watch how when the day shift goes home the mood of the floor seems to calm down and even tho you may be busy as all get out, it's less crazy. I love the night shift and wouldn't work any other shift. I am 53 yrs old and started night nursing 22 yrs ago.

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