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Adjusting to NIGHT SHIFTS advice??

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by nurse.sierra nurse.sierra (New Member) New Member Nurse

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Hi everyone! I am a new grad RN starting my residency next month on a tele floor — I will be working FT nights 7pm-7am. I’m kinda nervous and scared that it will be hard for me to adjust, and I literally have no idea what to expect. 

 

If you work nights (or have ever worked nights), what did you do to adjust? What are your off days like? What are your meals/eating schedules like? What is your skincare like? (I have a day and nighttime skincare routine—I’m wondering if I should flip them once I start working nights.) 

 

Also, is it best to work 3 consecutive night shifts? Or is it better to spread the shifts out throughout the week? 

 

Any advice or tips help! I plan on getting black out curtains and I already have a fan to block out noise.  

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Honestly, everyone is different. What works for some won't work for you, but you may find some good tips. Biggest question is... are you a day person or a night person? 

I am a night person. Even on my nights off, I am up at 3 am. I have a difficult time functioning in the morning, but usually by 2pm I am good to get things done. For me this has been a schedule almost 20 years in the making from when I was a stay-at-home mom and my husband would get up at 2am for work. I was his alarm clock. Over time, he got promoted, not he had to be up at 5am. May as well wait. Kids go to school at 7, I might as well stay up and see them off, then sleep while they are at school. When I hit nursing school, I discovered the time between 11pm when everyone was in bed, and 6am... was perfect me time. perfect study time. And now... here I am. I'd say the best way to adjust would be just that. On your nights off, stay up a bit later and later until finally you're like.. omg it's 5am!

For me nights are easy. My time orienting on day shift was a nightmare. I honestly, never see myself going to nights. I tend to schedule everything for 2pm or later. This gives me enough time to sleep after my shift. There are nights I will hit the "wall" around 3 - 5am. Coffee is usually enough to perk me up, as well as extra rounds, helping out with complete's or baths, extra rounding on patients, restocking my cart (we still have those), or even just taking a walk around or off the unit. 

Meals can be a little tricky. I eat breakfast when I get home in the morning. I have a snack when I wake up to get ready for work, or grab something light on my way to work. About 1am I eat my actual meal for the day. Then about 4am or so, when I am hitting my wall, I'll find a pick me up snack. On my days off, I will eat a lunch when I wake up (I am typically never awake before lunch time. I'm allergic to mornings), dinner at the usual time, and since I am up all night anyway I typically have a snack around 1-2am. 

As for skincare. Maybe don't look at it like "day vs night" but "wake up" and "go to bed", this is what I do. I have my usual "go to bed" routine, and my "time to hide from the sun" routine. 

Whether you want your shifts together or separated is probably gonna be trial and error, and since I am guessing that you self schedule, you can play around with it. Three in a row might be difficult at first. For me it depends on how I want my week to go. Sometimes it's three in a row to get it all out of the way. Sometimes I will do two at the beginning of the week, two at the end... maybe one in the middle and two somewhere else. I don't much care for having less than 2 days off at a time. It never really feels like a day off unless I have at least 2. Right now I am getting ready to do 4 in a row. I was feeling ambitious this scheduling period, but I wanted to get the bulk of my weekend requirements out of the way. 

 

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I work 12 hr night shifts, 3 in a row.  I am by nature a night person, sleep 1am-9am or even later, but the key for me was to try to stay up late for several days prior to the first shift, and make sure to sleep 5-6 hours at least the afternoon before the first shift.  

I do little more than work and sleep on those 3 in a row stretches...home by 8, asleep by 8 or 9, and up by 4 or 5pm.  

I still don’t have a good meal routine, usually eat before and after work, then one meal or a few snacks during the shift.

On off days, I try to stick to late nights and late morning wakeups, but bump it back a few hours.  Staying awake all night has never been a problem for me, but by 4-5 am I can’t learn well, functional, but new learning is tough!

Good luck! 

 

 

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5 hours ago, Miss.LeoRN said:

Honestly, everyone is different. What works for some won't work for you, but you may find some good tips. Biggest question is... are you a day person or a night person? 

I am a night person. Even on my nights off, I am up at 3 am. I have a difficult time functioning in the morning, but usually by 2pm I am good to get things done. For me this has been a schedule almost 20 years in the making from when I was a stay-at-home mom and my husband would get up at 2am for work. I was his alarm clock. Over time, he got promoted, not he had to be up at 5am. May as well wait. Kids go to school at 7, I might as well stay up and see them off, then sleep while they are at school. When I hit nursing school, I discovered the time between 11pm when everyone was in bed, and 6am... was perfect me time. perfect study time. And now... here I am. I'd say the best way to adjust would be just that. On your nights off, stay up a bit later and later until finally you're like.. omg it's 5am!

For me nights are easy. My time orienting on day shift was a nightmare. I honestly, never see myself going to nights. I tend to schedule everything for 2pm or later. This gives me enough time to sleep after my shift. There are nights I will hit the "wall" around 3 - 5am. Coffee is usually enough to perk me up, as well as extra rounds, helping out with complete's or baths, extra rounding on patients, restocking my cart (we still have those), or even just taking a walk around or off the unit. 

Meals can be a little tricky. I eat breakfast when I get home in the morning. I have a snack when I wake up to get ready for work, or grab something light on my way to work. About 1am I eat my actual meal for the day. Then about 4am or so, when I am hitting my wall, I'll find a pick me up snack. On my days off, I will eat a lunch when I wake up (I am typically never awake before lunch time. I'm allergic to mornings), dinner at the usual time, and since I am up all night anyway I typically have a snack around 1-2am. 

As for skincare. Maybe don't look at it like "day vs night" but "wake up" and "go to bed", this is what I do. I have my usual "go to bed" routine, and my "time to hide from the sun" routine. 

Whether you want your shifts together or separated is probably gonna be trial and error, and since I am guessing that you self schedule, you can play around with it. Three in a row might be difficult at first. For me it depends on how I want my week to go. Sometimes it's three in a row to get it all out of the way. Sometimes I will do two at the beginning of the week, two at the end... maybe one in the middle and two somewhere else. I don't much care for having less than 2 days off at a time. It never really feels like a day off unless I have at least 2. Right now I am getting ready to do 4 in a row. I was feeling ambitious this scheduling period, but I wanted to get the bulk of my weekend requirements out of the way. 

 

Awesome! Thank you for your input, I really appreciate it.

I’m honestly not too sure whether I’m a day or night person. When I was in nursing school and had to wake up early for clinicals (like 4:30am) or class it was easy because my body was used to it. I am able to function early in the morning. Now that I am out of school I’ve been going to sleep around 1am-2am. So honestly I think I can adapt to either days or nights without too much of an issue—I just have to get my body USED to it. I’m hoping that’s going to be the case for night shifts. 

 

Thank you you so much for your reply! 💗

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3 hours ago, Hollyhocks720 said:

I work 12 hr night shifts, 3 in a row.  I am by nature a night person, sleep 1am-9am or even later, but the key for me was to try to stay up late for several days prior to the first shift, and make sure to sleep 5-6 hours at least the afternoon before the first shift.  

I do little more than work and sleep on those 3 in a row stretches...home by 8, asleep by 8 or 9, and up by 4 or 5pm.  

I still don’t have a good meal routine, usually eat before and after work, then one meal or a few snacks during the shift.

On off days, I try to stick to late nights and late morning wakeups, but bump it back a few hours.  Staying awake all night has never been a problem for me, but by 4-5 am I can’t learn well, functional, but new learning is tough!

Good luck! 

 

 

Thank you for your input. I think the key for me will be to stay up late prior to the first shift as well. We’ll see! Hopefully I am able to adjust well. Thanks again 💗

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Hi Nurse Sierra!  You're already ahead of the game by getting blackout curtains and a fan.  I also use ear plugs.

I try to keep my same schedule, on my days off.  It's tough, because the world runs on days.  But, for me it messes up my system too much to be-bop back and forth.  Invariably, if I have several days off, and my hubby is home, I end up on a day schedule.  If that's the case, I take a sleep aide the day I go back to work.

Skin care is the same for me day or nights, so I don't switch anything.  However, as to my supplements, I take my daytime ones before I go to work (at night) and my night ones before I go to bed (in the morning).

Most people like three consecutive nights.  It makes for more days off in a row.  That is generally how we are scheduled.  The times we aren't, I try to look at the positive 1) that I'm getting some extra sleep and 2) that my body is getting a break.

As to adjusting, if you are a definite morning person, it may be hard to adjust, but you will get used to it.  The main negative I deal with is people just don't get--and apparently never will--that calling, texting, or coming to visit at 1:00 in the afternoon is the middle of the night for me.  (I shut off my phone while I'm sleeping).  Even after years of working nights, family STILL doesn't get it.  (Sigh)  And, we always get flack (in fun--sort of) if we're late to holiday dinners, which are of course always scheduled around noon or one.

Along the same lines, and this is my perception, but we have to be quiet for the rest of the world, but they don't have to be quiet for us.  We are the minority.  So for instance, I make sure I have my vacuuming or anything loud done before ten at night, so I don't disturb others in my apartment complex.  On the flip side, they can be pretty loud, when I'm trying to sleep.  That's where ear plugs and fans come in. 🙂

Some pros of working nights are...

There are fewer people around
Less family to deal with
We can eat at our desk (I need to eat something small every few hours, so this comes in handy to be able to snack while I'm charting)  It is absolutely not allowed on days.

All in all, I really like nights.

Best of luck to you!

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River&MountainRN has 3 years experience.

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For sleep hygiene, I recommend blackout curtains, an eye pillow (if any shred of light bothers you), ear plugs (if any ambient noise bothers you), and keeping it cool in your room. 

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8 hours ago, jag nurse said:

Hi Nurse Sierra!  You're already ahead of the game by getting blackout curtains and a fan.  I also use ear plugs.

I try to keep my same schedule, on my days off.  It's tough, because the world runs on days.  But, for me it messes up my system too much to be-bop back and forth.  Invariably, if I have several days off, and my hubby is home, I end up on a day schedule.  If that's the case, I take a sleep aide the day I go back to work.

Skin care is the same for me day or nights, so I don't switch anything.  However, as to my supplements, I take my daytime ones before I go to work (at night) and my night ones before I go to bed (in the morning).

Most people like three consecutive nights.  It makes for more days off in a row.  That is generally how we are scheduled.  The times we aren't, I try to look at the positive 1) that I'm getting some extra sleep and 2) that my body is getting a break.

As to adjusting, if you are a definite morning person, it may be hard to adjust, but you will get used to it.  The main negative I deal with is people just don't get--and apparently never will--that calling, texting, or coming to visit at 1:00 in the afternoon is the middle of the night for me.  (I shut off my phone while I'm sleeping).  Even after years of working nights, family STILL doesn't get it.  (Sigh)  And, we always get flack (in fun--sort of) if we're late to holiday dinners, which are of course always scheduled around noon or one.

Along the same lines, and this is my perception, but we have to be quiet for the rest of the world, but they don't have to be quiet for us.  We are the minority.  So for instance, I make sure I have my vacuuming or anything loud done before ten at night, so I don't disturb others in my apartment complex.  On the flip side, they can be pretty loud, when I'm trying to sleep.  That's where ear plugs and fans come in. 🙂

Some pros of working nights are...

There are fewer people around
Less family to deal with
We can eat at our desk (I need to eat something small every few hours, so this comes in handy to be able to snack while I'm charting)  It is absolutely not allowed on days.

All in all, I really like nights.

Best of luck to you!

Thank you for your input, I appreciate you! I think the hardest part for me will be adjusting  at first but I know I will get used to it. & I do like the fact that nights are more calm and fewer people. Thanks again! 

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2 hours ago, River&MountainRN said:

For sleep hygiene, I recommend blackout curtains, an eye pillow (if any shred of light bothers you), ear plugs (if any ambient noise bothers you), and keeping it cool in your room. 

Sounds good, thank you! 

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Kallie3006 has 6 years experience as a ADN and works as a Jack of all trades, master of none.

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I did 5 years of day shift before going to nights and then wondered what took me so long to figure out this shift is amazing for me!  I have a function on my phone that allows me to select certain contacts that can make it through my Do Not Disturb selection on my phone, other than those selected my phone does not go off when calls, texts or notifications come in.  Depending on where you are located it might be useful to find something that can produce a "white" noise that you can sleep to, this aids in the inevitable day time raucous that could possibly stir your dreams. 

If you are not wanting to stay on a night time schedule on your days off, you might want to try to keep your shifts in a row, this helps with the sleep confusion your body will be going through when trying to switch back and forth.  I personally dislike working every other day because I feel like I am either at work or sleeping, and nothing gets accomplished on my time off, but that is me. 

Right now my schedule is all over the place doing home infusions as well as working both days and nights at the hospital and having a "sleep" routine is pretty important to me because of this.  Skincare wise, I also look at it as wake up and sleep vs day and night.  You will find things that work for you and sometimes you will surprise yourself on how creative you can be to get what you need to get done, accomplished.  Good luck and welcome to the dark side! 

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vintagemother works as a Nurse and Mom.

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On 3/14/2019 at 5:21 PM, nurse.sierra said:

Hi everyone! I am a new grad RN starting my residency next month on a tele floor — I will be working FT nights 7pm-7am. I’m kinda nervous and scared that it will be hard for me to adjust, and I literally have no idea what to expect. 

 

If you work nights (or have ever worked nights), what did you do to adjust? What are your off days like? What are your meals/eating schedules like? What is your skincare like? (I have a day and nighttime skincare routine—I’m wondering if I should flip them once I start working nights.) 

 

Also, is it best to work 3 consecutive night shifts? Or is it better to spread the shifts out throughout the week? 

 

Any advice or tips help! I plan on getting black out curtains and I already have a fan to block out noise.  

Yes to black out curtains. 

I also have an essential oil diffuser that I put sleep oils in- eg lavender, etc. 

I prefer to cluster my nights together, so that I have more time to adjust to being awake during the day.

My days off are kinda hard...I’m tired during the day (it’s been about 3 yrs on nights). I’m pretty sure I have shift sleep disorder. 

My meals are as follows: I meal prep religiously. That way I have food to eat at work during my “lunch” at 3-4AM; as well as food to eat when I’m home from work that is healthy. I excercise almost daily. I started about 1 yr ago. This makes me more hungry so I tend to eat before I go to work or within 1-2 hrs of arriving. Therefore, when I excercise before work, I pack a healthy snack/mini meal. 

I also eat before I go to bed after work.Again, I eat healthy meal prepped foods. 

As far as skin care,I don’t have a complex regimen. I do wash my face after and before work. I use sunscreen moisturizer whenever I wash my face. I wash my face when I wake up / before o go to the gym. 

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Ruby Vee has 40 years experience as a BSN.

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As far as skin care -- I have one routine for when I'm going to bed and one routine for when I'm waking up.  It's not so much a "night" routine and a "day routine".  I'm pretty sure that's what you're asking.

Black out curtains and a fan are a great start -- I loved my fan!  When I turned it on high, I didn't even hear my boyfriend moving into my house while I was sleeping -- or my ex-boyfriend moving out.  Long story.  

As far as eating . . . I had "dinner" with my husband when I got up, ate lunch around midnight or 1am -- usually dinner leftovers -- and ate breakfast when I got home.  (Or on the way home, because when I was really tired, it helped me stay awake while driving.). Drive home with sunglasses.

I loved the teamwork and camaraderie on the night shift.  Below is a link to a thread that has some useful information.  Best of luck.

 

Night Shift for Newbies

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