Jump to content

Adjusting to Nights in the ER

alm3RN alm3RN (New) New

Hello all! I have been an avid allnurses reader throughout nursing school, but have yet to post!

I graduated with a BSN in August and received my RN license in October (Thank God that stress is over!) I recently began working in the ED at one of the local hospitals where I live and I could not be more happy with my decision. I am currently doing shifts with my preceptor from 7p-7a and I just have a few questions to ask regarding the adjustment.

First of all, what sleep schedule has worked best for you all? I really don't like keeping the same schedule during my days/nights off because I like to spend time with my family. Lately, I have been staying up until 5-7am the morning of my first night shift and sleeping until around 4-5pm. It has worked for me so far, but am wondering if there is a healthier alternative?

Also, I am a health and wellness enthusiast (to put it lightly) and I love exercising and sticking to a work out routine. However, due to my recent change in schedule, I haven't made it to the gym in about a month because I am so groggy and feel like I don't have the energy. Do any of you all have a work out schedule that works out for you and your work schedule? Once I get back into the routine, I'm sure I'll be more motivated to go.

Lastly, what type of meals/snacks do you eat during a shift? I'm trying to eat very healthy (especially considering I haven't made it to the gym in a while) and because I've heard most night nurses gain a bit of weight in the beginning (AH!).

Any other tips/advice is welcome!! :)

Do a search and all your questions will be answered. Your questions have been answered in hundreds of theads.

JBudd, MSN

Has 39 years experience. Specializes in Trauma, Teaching.

Many different opinions about sleep schedules, some stay awake their first day off and sleep in the evening. I personally only shift back and forth by 6-8 hours, but my kids were quite used to staying up with me on my nights off (homeschooling rocks!). There are lots of threads with sleeping during the day tips; frankly I am such a natural night owl that I like sleeping during the day.

You will get past the grogginess, but it helps to make yourself go workout in the evenings you have off, or stop by the gym for a short workout on the way home. Sometimes I am charged up after working out too much to sleep, but usually not, the adrenaline wears off by the time I get home and shower. I would do class and gym at about the same time I would go start a night shift.

As far as snacks go, I am not the one to ask! Caffeine, fat and salt..... and carbs.... and..... :yes::roflmao:


Has 30 years experience. Specializes in Education, FP, LNC, Forensics, ED, OB.

Welcome to allnurses.com

We moved your thread to the Emergency Nursing forum.

I agree with JBudd. The grogginess will finally get better.

Working out after you get off duty might be a good thing, however, it can rev you up too much and you might have issues falling to sleep once you get home. I did, however, have a routine doing just that and it worked for me.

On the night before, I would stay up late and sleep all day. My children were older and this routine worked for me. I tried not to snack at night anymore than what I would normally do if I worked days. Just have a good high protein meal. And, yes, I'm not a good role model either, like JBudd, for I love sweets. :)

You'll finally find your own way.

Hope you enjoy allnurses.com. And, congratulations on becoming RN!!

zmansc, ASN, RN

Specializes in Emergency.

Never figured it out, switched to day shift, never going back! lol

I sleep when I sleep.

If I cant and its winter I go for a quick snowmobile ride after work then sleep.

I work Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. On Thursday night I will stay up until 11 or 12 a.m. and then sleep until my kids get up, usually between 0430-0600. Then I take a 3-4 hour nap on Friday. Monday I go to bed usually by 10 a.m. wake up at 4 p.m. and then head back to bed whenever else does around 9 to switch back to days for the week. This works for me right now because I don't want our baby in daycare yet. I do crossfit 3 days a week (Tues, Wed, Thurs) and I want to add some yoga, pilates, or running before work but that hasn't happened yet.

For snacks I eat fruit, cheese sticks, veggies, meat roll ups, chicken legs, hard boiled eggs, nuts, and Lara bars. I eat Paleo so most of my stuff consists of leftovers that are quick to grab out the door.

Ruby Vee, BSN

Has 40 years experience. Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching.

I must be missing something -- I don't see how adjusting to nights in the ER is any different from adjusting to nights in the ICU, LTC or Home Health. Do a search on night shift -- there are plenty of threads and tons of advice. Not all of it will work for you -- you'll have to pick and choose.

Here's a place to start:


I work on a self-scheduling floor, but as it stands right now, I'm working my preceptor's hours. I still don't have it figured out yet. The night before my first shift of the week, I sleep a couple of hours less than I usually do by staying up a little later. Wake up, get the kids on the bus, do some errands or chores, kick back and catch up on "The Blacklist", whatever. Then I take a 3-4 hour nap till 4-5 p. Wake up, dinner, chat with the kids about their day, shower, work. If I'm working the next day, I go home and read AN, check my email, pay a bill or do something short, and I'm asleep by 9-10. If I'm working, I sleep as long as I can. If I'm not, I try to make that a nap, 3-5 hours depending on how hard the shift was. Then I wake up and do the mom thing.

My preceptor works four days a week, two 8s and two 12s. So I'm finding "flipping" to be harder than I'd expected as it works out this week to be two on, one off, one on, one off, then Sunday on, Monday off....see what I mean? I think three 12s is more in my wheelhouse, though I'm not complaining about 40 hours on orientation. Try the threads Ruby suggested....there's a lot of good info there!


By using the site you agree to our Privacy, Cookies, and Terms of Service Policies.