The night Shift

  1. Hi all, I am a new grad in L&D and LOVING IT, except my 6 month orientation on days is coming to an end and I am DREADING going to nights. Anyone have any tips, especially the best way to work out my schedule which requires me to work 3 days a week, 12.5 hours a shift (7pm-7:30am) and raise a family? Is it best to do all 3 days in a row and then have 4 days off, PLEASE, I AM SCARED! I have never stayed up an entire night in my life, and I am going to be 40 in a couple of months.

    TIA
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  2. 7 Comments

  3. by   muffie
    drink lots of h2o to not feel so crappy when u get up
  4. by   Ruby Vee
    Quote from cinthern
    hi all, i am a new grad in l&d and loving it, except my 6 month orientation on days is coming to an end and i am dreading going to nights. anyone have any tips, especially the best way to work out my schedule which requires me to work 3 days a week, 12.5 hours a shift (7pm-7:30am) and raise a family? is it best to do all 3 days in a row and then have 4 days off, please, i am scared! i have never stayed up an entire night in my life, and i am going to be 40 in a couple of months.

    tia
    [font="comic sans ms"]
    nights are a fact of life in hospital nursing. if you're almost 40, have kids and still have managed to avoid staying up all night, you're very lucky! i don't even have my own child, but have managed to stay up all night when the step-daughter was sick or hurt! (starting with the night before our wedding!)

    you didn't say whether you're doing straight nights or not. if you are rotating, try to do all your required night shifts at the same time, rather than 2 weeks of days, 2 weeks of nights, 2 weeks of days, etc. i work three weeks of nights/ 3 weeks of days. it helps to stay on a night shift schedule as much as possible on your days off, so it helps to work my weeks of nights together.

    your sleep is sacred. treat it that way. don't let anyone convince you that "since you're home all day" you should be available to do anything other than sleep during your sleep time! buy black-out curtains, tape tin foil to your windows, wear a sleep mask -- whatever works. use ear plugs, a fan or a white noise machine. turn off your phone, turn down the volume on the answering machine. there are just too many people who should know better who will call just to chat at 1 pm, no matter how many times you beg them not to. i've been known to return the favor by calling at 1 am, and that does solve the problem -- usually -- but does create hard feelings. if there's a problem at school, have the school call your husband or the child's father or grandparent or someone else you've chosen ahead of time. if the problem is dire, they can come to your house and wake you up. (anyone who wakes you up had best be advised that they only do so if your child has been hit by a bus, your parent has suffered a stroke, your hospital has been demolished by terrorists or your house is on fire.) there are whole threads about this -- reading them will advise, entertain and reassure you.

    eat right. i'm not talking about healthy diets or low cholesterol here -- i'm advocating taking a meal to work with you, and taking a meal break to eat your meal. for heaven's sake, don't snack continuously. you'll gain weight, feel sluggish and become a patient. i eat breakfast at 5 pm, when i get up, dinner at 1 am or thereabouts and a light "supper" when i get home from work. whatever works for you. i know people who eat dinner with the family before they go to work, and if that works for you, great! but do plan to take a meal break at work.

    welcome to the night shift. nights are so popular in my unit that there's a waiting list for permanent nights! there are fewer doctors, no management, fewer families and visitors, and fewer interruptions by "road trips", pt, students, etc. it's an excellent time to learn and to grow in your role as a nurse.

  5. by   Dixielee
    You will find a rhythm that works for you....if you are lucky. Yes, you will have to guard your sleep time well. Your family will have to know up front that you must have sleep just like they do. One way to do that is to disconnect your phone during your sleep time. If you are concerned that kids or hubby can't get in touch with you in an emergency, get a beeper or cell phone that ONLY your immediate family has the number for and make sure they know it is ONLY for emergencies.

    I find that I do much better if I work my 3 together, or if you can handle it....work on 6 off 8. I have done that for years now, but my kids are now grown, and I don't have to do anything on my work stretch but work, shower, sleep and eat.

    After my last night shift, I will go home, run errands if needed, and try to sleep only 4-5 hours. Then I can go to sleep that night (I am still a zombie the rest of the day, but I am technically awake). I stay on a "day" schedule so I can spend time with my husband. On my last night off, I stay up as long as I can, and sleep as late as I can the next day. Then I am OK to work that night. I have tried getting up early and taking a nap before I get in, but many times I either don't have the opportunity for a nap or I am simply not sleepy and can't take one, so the sleeping late seems to work. I can stay up 24 hours or longer on occasion but I can't do it regularly anymore (I am 52, and not getting any younger!).

    As others have said, you need to eat well. Most hospitals treat night shift employees like they don't need to eat, and options are usually limited. Many times grill, greesy, high fat, poor quality foods are all that is available, so plan to bring your meal with you. I spend one of my off days usually cooking casseroles, or freezer meals that can be used by my family or me later when I don't feel up to cooking. Your family will still want to eat every day even though you won't feel up to much cooking. So, take advantage of easy dishes like spaghetti, lasagna, soups, home made pot pies (with full sized pie shells) quiche, etc. Learn to love your crock pot. If your kids are old enough, they can help with the meals. Your husband will need to be more accomodating as well.

    I don't care what anyone says, night shift is not natural for most people, and you will be more tired, less functional than if you worked days. There are benefits to working nights....less hassle with administration, generally a bit more time to get your work done, etc. But it is tough to do.

    You will have extended family and friends call you at noon and if they wake you up will say, "oh did I wake you up? or are you going to sleep the day away?" You need to make it clear that you will not be available many days. Just because you have the day "off" (to sleep), doesn't mean you are available to do things, any more than you would expect someone who sleeps at night to jump up at 2 am to pick someone up at the airport, school, etc. and then go back to bed.

    Protect your sleep, eat well, and tried to adapt. It can be done, but it is not easy when the other people in your household are "day" people.
  6. by   sabRN2b05
    Quote from cinthern
    Hi all, I am a new grad in L&D and LOVING IT, except my 6 month orientation on days is coming to an end and I am DREADING going to nights. Anyone have any tips, especially the best way to work out my schedule which requires me to work 3 days a week, 12.5 hours a shift (7pm-7:30am) and raise a family? Is it best to do all 3 days in a row and then have 4 days off, PLEASE, I AM SCARED! I have never stayed up an entire night in my life, and I am going to be 40 in a couple of months.

    TIA
    Are you a single parent or are you married? How many kids and how old? Not trying to be nosey, just trying to get more detail about your family. Are your kids younger (toddler, preschool) and more dependent on you or older (upper elementary/middle/high school) and more independent? Your home life is going to be a major factor.

    My husband is a cop and he works 12 hr shifts (days) and I work nights (12's also). I try to schedule my shifts to work the nights that my husband is off the next day (hope that made sense). That may not always work out....have to get to the "plan sheet" at work when it first comes out. 1st come, 1st serve.

    Everyone has their own thing, but here's what I do. My first day on, I have usually slept the night before (generally don't stay up on my nights off), get up the next a.m. and take my son to school (unless hubby if off and takes him). That's only a 20 minute round trip, so once I get home, I get housework/laundry done PRN, errands, etc, then get a nap the latter part of the morning around 10 or 11 a.m. for a few hours or until time to get my son from school. We are fortunate enough to belong to a car pool in our neighborhood, so sometimes I just make arrangements for my son to ride home in the afternoon. Same goes for if I have worked the night before, and my husband has to work that day, then I make arrangements for carpool in the a.m. The mornings that I have worked the night before, I make no plans when I get home (errands, housework, whatever)...I just get a shower and crash. I am usually asleep by 0830 and wake up around 2-3pm. I try to make supper before I go to work so I will have something to take with me. Sometimes my husband will cook something quick and easy (like tacos, sloppy joes, casserole, etc) if he's off. Crock pot recipes are wonderful!! If my son has something at school during the day (field trip, class party, etc), I try to request off the night before or swap with someone. Again, gotta get to the plan sheet 1st and hope I know about these events when it comes out!!

    Adjusting to nights is difficult for some. You either love it or you don't. I transferred to ICU this past July. My orientation was also on days and I switched to nights about 6 wks ago. I had to take a night position to get my foot in the door. I did nights before on med/tele as a PCA while in nursing school, and I hated it then. I have done days since being out of nursing school (5/05). I think the night shift is more laid back, and I am adjusting well. Pts in the unit tend to keep you very busy, so the shift flies by, but it is also (sometimes!) a slower paced environment (i.e., no docs rounding, no procedures unless emergent, what others have said about PT, ST, OT, etc), so it is easier for me to learn. Also, you'd be amazed how you can stay up when there are other people around you doing the same.
    Last edit by sabRN2b05 on Nov 19, '06
  7. by   sabRN2b05
    [QUOTE=Dixielee;1930923]I spend one of my off days usually cooking casseroles, or freezer meals that can be used by my family or me later when I don't feel up to cooking. Your family will still want to eat every day even though you won't feel up to much cooking. So, take advantage of easy dishes like spaghetti, lasagna, soups, home made pot pies (with full sized pie shells) quiche, etc. Learn to love your crock pot. If your kids are old enough, they can help with the meals. Your husband will need to be more accomodating as well.[/QUOTE/]

    Definitely involve the family in cooking if possible! I totally agree with the "one dish" meal idea. That works well for me and my family. We do bigger meals on my nights off.
  8. by   klone
    I have two school-aged kids and work nights (also 1900-0730). I find it best to do six in a row (Th-Fr-Sat-Sun-Mon-Tu) and have 8 days off. I can sleep while the kids are in school.

    I also take Provigil when I work to help keep me alert, especially during that period between 2-5 am. It's a lifesaver.
  9. by   SmilingBluEyes
    It takes a family effort to survive. Your sleep is sacred.....make sure family, friends and work know this. And yes, involve the kids and spouse in cooking and cleaning; it 's only fair. And keep a healthy diet. DO NOT overdo the caffeine and junk, as many night folks do ....you will feel like crud and get heavy. Fit in workouts regularly as well. Keep hydrated.

    Good luck. I hate nights; finally moving away from it after nearly 9 years of it.

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