Can i survive night shift??!


I'm starting 12 hour nights in March (when my new grad training ends) until then i will be trained in the days. I have a toddler and a 6 year old stepdaughter. I am worried when nights come around I won't be able to adjust or will become easily depressed because i probably will be sleeping during the day while i pay for my kids to go to daycare while i sleep! How do parents do it?! Any tips or a schedule to get a good routine without hating life? I would not mind working weekend nights if that meant i get to see my children more but then don't get to see my fiancé since those are his only days off. Not to mention the fact i don't think he can handle the kids all to himself while i sleep. What are the best days to work? How do you do it? anything helps, since i don't have a clue! TIA!

klone, MSN, RN

14,490 Posts

Specializes in OB-Gyn/Primary Care/Ambulatory Leadership. Has 17 years experience.

It's HARD, not gonna lie. Some people love it, but for most people, it goes against your circadian rhythms. What I would recommend:

Try to do 3 in a row, so that you can revert to daytime life for at least 4 days.

Sleep in a DARK room - I used my son's bedroom, which was in the basement (he was in school, or at his dad's, while I was asleep), and I taped black plastic trash bags over the windows)

Turn off your phone and put a sign on the front door "Shift worker - do not ring doorbell!"

Keep your room on the cool side - I found that as the room heated up during the day, especially in the summer, it was more difficult to stay asleep

Consider Benadryl or Ambien, if you're having a really hard time

Get exercise!

Good luck!


40 Posts

My mom was a night nurse. I think you can make it work. While you are asleep your 6 year old will be at school right? Your toddler may have to go to daycare or maybe a family member can pitch in? While they are at school/daycare please get your sleep! They may have to stay overnight with a family member on the nights you work as well.

My mom always made sure to at least eat dinner with us if possible. Her days off she would go back to a regular schedule so she could spend time with us. It's going to be hard but it's possible.

Your support system is very crucial at this time, put them to good use :)

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Specializes in Med surg/ tele, LDRP. Has 8 years experience.

so heres a question, how much sleep is enough sleep? I don't want to get up too early then be super tired by the middle of my shift. I have no family in the state i live in so i pay $600/mo for my sons daycare and $150 for my SD's after school program s my support system is pretty low. Me and my fiancé only have each other and we will be on opposite schedules so not sure how it will all work out. But i want to have a plan and be prepared.


40 Posts

How much sleep do you usually get?

My mom would try to sleep for approximately 7 hours. With opposite schedules, would your fiancé be able to stay with kids at night? Ask if your employer has some discount for childcare. This is all going to be learning experience. Wish you all the best :)

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Specializes in Med surg/ tele, LDRP. Has 8 years experience.

i usually get 10 hrs of sleep if i go to sleep early enough otherwise 8 hrs. My fiancee can deal with the kids at night but if i work weekends he would have them during the day while i sleep since he's off the weekends. No discounts for daycare unfortunately :/ thanks for the luck I'm gonna need it!


2 Posts

Specializes in Long-term care, behavior nursing.

You'll be fine. It is hard. Night shift is where most all of us start out. Having kiddos adds to the stress. You'll develop you're own routine & adjust quicker than you think. If it's 12 hour shifts, hopefully you'll just have to do it 3 days a week! If it's your passion, you'll find a way. Good luck with all the future adjusrments & in your position!


382 Posts

Specializes in L&D, Women's Health. Has 30 years experience.

I've worked night shift for years and agree with everything Klone says! Working three nights in a row, if you can work that out, really helps get you into a pattern. I also used black-out shades to keep room dark and cool and soft nature sounds to drown out noises. (There's an app called "Sleepy Pillows" which is free and fantastic! I love to play a mixture of rain, wind, ocean and use a wireless speaker.) Definitely phones off! Have a set bed/wake time. You'll find that after a few weeks, you'll get into your pattern and will do fine.


947 Posts

Specializes in L&D. Has 2 years experience.

If you worked days...your kids would still be in daycare right? I have 4 kids ages 5, 8, 10, 11.5. I do weekend nights and almost always 3 in a row. I sleep from 8 am to 4pm. I really enjoy nights. Hopefully you do well!


124 Posts

Specializes in School Nursing, Telemetry. Has 2 years experience.

You can definitely make it work. I worked 12-hour night shifts for over a year with a 5-and 8-year-old. While their dad is a stay-at-home parent and I did not necessarily have to worry about daycare, three days a week is not terrible in terms of spending time with kiddos (though I definitely agree it's expensive for daycare!), especially if it's three night shifts in a row. I would usually come home and be asleep by about 8:30-9:00 and wake up around 5 on my work days. Really, you'll be working while the kids are sleeping and sleeping while the older one is at school, so it isn't much different than if you were working day shift. If you have weekends off, I would keep it that way (unless you cannot afford the daycare, of course), because you'd be able to spend non-school days with them and attend activities, if they are involved in them. I'm now working an 8-5 M-F and sometimes I miss the stretches of 3-5 days off that I would get with 3 12's!

Specializes in Med surg/ tele, LDRP. Has 8 years experience.

thanks for all the comments i am glad to see it really isn't that bad as everyone is making it seem. i know i don't have a choice of working days or night so I'm going to have to do it regardless. Thanks for all the tips, you guys rock!

Specializes in Inpatient Oncology/Public Health. Has 16 years experience.

I have a 2 and 6 year old and I work weekend nights. I don't see much of my husband, we are essentially ships passing in the night especially since he works late during the week. But it's temporary. We only use daycare one day a week and I'm essentially a SAHM during the week.