Desperately need NIGHT SHIFT ADVICE!!!

  1. Hi everyone- I'm starting on night shifts in two weeks and although I am middle aged, I have never worked a night shift job of any kind- what kind of advice can you give? I am desperate for any tips/tricks/warnings!!!! (If it helps to know, its ICU that I'll be working in.) ALL advice (from how to keep up good health and weight, to specifics on what nursing issues to expect) would be SOOOOOOO appreciated!!!!!!!!! (also your own experience stories from when you first transitioned to nights would also be most appreciated!) Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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    Joined: May '05; Posts: 290; Likes: 12


  3. by   nurseangel47
    I once worked night shift in a hospital setting a lifetime ago...LOL! The trick for me back then was getting the room dark enough and preventing neighborhood noises (lawnmowers/leafblowers) from interfering. Oh, and let's not forget the barking dogs! I used ear plugs for the noises. There are room darkening shades available at most harware stores for the light. I would recommend allowing a bit of "down time" after showering when you first get home from work in the early mornings. And be careful about not drinking too much caffeine too late in the shift that woudl interfere w/keeping you up so you CAN't sleep when you get home. Be careful on the drive home. Sometimes I'd feel as if I was hallucinating...would see shapes like people walking along the road. Once got a speeding ticket flying home to get to my soft, comfy bed! LOL! Didn't get out of it either! Darn!
    Drink lots of water to stay well hydrated. Snack lightly during shift. Don't eat a heavy meal too late in the shift since that would keep you up also, when you're trying to sleep later.
    I hope that this helps. Good luck! You can do it!
  4. by   CHATSDALE
    this varies with individual..i had to go home and go right to sleep, if i stayed up i would go into day mode and couldn't go to sleep..i am the worlds worse insommiac anyway
    weight can be a problem..many 3rd shifters bring food from home because of no caferteria services and they ALWAYS bring enough for an is december all year long
    trying to take care of daytime business ie paying bills and shopping etc can ruin you thank heaven for online sites and all night stores..they were available when i was working nights..if you can stick more or less to the same schedule on your days off as when you are working that helps a lot

    nights can be rough because the busiest time is just when you are getting off..there is so much that you can't do ahead of time, v/s, cbs, am meds etc and you have a high number of deaths at night..i guess it is the body has its lowest point during the night and some people just slip away

    i hope that you will enjoy your shifts..if you have a crew that works together and are congenial it will be fine you will work your own way of doing things
  5. by   Ruby Vee
    [font="comic sans ms"]there are many threads on this -- do a search and you'll pull up literally hundreds of tips and tricks!

    in general:

    your sleep is sacred! treat it as sacred and make sure that everyone in your household does as well. no waking you up unless the house is on fire, your mother is having a stroke, your child's school as been taken hostage by terrorists or a tornado is coming up the street! sos need to stay out of the bedroom while you're sleeping, so that means they need to gather what they need for the day and move it on out of there. no popping in to get a different pair of shoes or a clean pair of socks. no lying down to "nap" with you. no waking you up to ask if the dog has been fed, the child's permission slip has been signed or the electric bill has been paid. you wouldn't wake him up at 3 am for that, so why should he wake you in the middle of your sleep time?

    keep your room cool, dark and quiet. get black out shades or curtains, or cover your windows with aluminum foil. (in the northwest, that will make neighbors and new acquaintences wonder whether you've got a grow room, so expect questions!) use ear plugs or an industrial-strength fan on high. (an ex-boyfriend once moved into my house while i was sleeping next to my fan, and i didn't hear a thing!) turn off your phone, turn off the ringer and turn the volume down on your answering machine. if there's a problem at school, they can call the child's father, step-parent, grand-parent or a close friend you've pre-selected. if you simply must be available for emergencies, get a separate cellphone or pager and make sure that anyone who has the number knows that if they call you and it isn't a dire situation, you'll be calling them back at "0-dark-thirty".

    make sure you eat healthy. that probably means bringing your meals to work, since there's usually very little available in most workplaces. bring a meal, not just snacks. make time during your shift to sit down and eat your meal. and stay hydrated.

    understand that everyone is brain-dead at some point during the night. well, almost everyone. figure out when your "brain-dead" time is, and schedule all tasks that require coherent thought (charting, for example) for another time. as much as possible, anyway. (i also have a brain-dead period during the day, but that isn't as well-accepted!)

    and if you've ignored every other suggestion i've made, do not, under any circumstances, answer the phone while you're sleeping! dh has agreed to different long distance plans, costing us $$$$$ and i once accused my father of being a pervert. (when i asked who this was, he said "i used to change your diapers." i gave him a blistering tongue lashing and hung up. he still likes to remind me that i didn't learn all of that vocabulary from him!) worse than that, you might agree to some outrageous amount of overtime, volunteer work or to drive your child's entire class to the city for a field trip!
  6. by   Bluehair
    I agree with everything here. My trick was to bring my daily vitamins with me ( a multi, some calcium and a vitamin C). I would take them with whatever meal I was eating somewhere around midnight. They would give me the boost I needed to get past the 4 a.m. slump. It will be tempting to drink a ton of coffee. Resist the urge to go nuts on it, it will only worsen any gastric distress from changing sleep patterns. Drink mostly water with an occassional coffee or tea in between and you will feel a lot better.
    ESPECIALLY guard your sleep times, no matter what those are. I used to take my phone off the hook, put in ear plugs and one of those eye shade things to make my brain think it was dark and sleep at least 6 hours straight. If I woke up due to phone, etc. that was it for sleep for that day.
    Good luck!
  7. by   CVICURN2003
    i actually did call dh one night in the middle of the night after he had repeatedly awakend me for stupid things. then he decided it would be "okay" if he let the bobcat man do some work (next to my bedroom) during the middle of the day. i waited about 30 min in between calls (long enough for him to be good and asleep again). he was much more careful from then on...and yes it was a slow night.

    i also took melatonin. my children knew that after 1530 it was okay to wake mommy up. before then, unless you were bleeding profusley or could not breathe (and if you were screaming, you could breathe), don't wake up mommy. they were usually at my mom's next door or dh had them...but at 1530 they were in my room. period.

    i drank lots of h20.

    good luck. i loved nights.

  8. by   SFRN
    Just one piece of advice, I work perm. nights....

    get plenty of exercise and stay up late the night before you start nights and sleep in late before you begin nights....good luck I love night shift!
    Last edit by SFRN on Feb 6, '07 : Reason: spelling
  9. by   mom2michael
    I have tin foil on my windows for the night effect - a shade thing to go over my eyes, a fan turned up on high (and away from me, burrrrrr) and an MP3 player that plays white noise in my ears.

    I scared my child the 1st time he saw my night shift/day sleep getup.
  10. by   mellendis
    eye mask, white noise machine, very dark window drapes and ambien prn. i never could eat before bed. shut off the phone. keep hydrated during your shift. watch your sugar intake. it can be done. good luck.
  11. by   Beech1184
    Take good food to work., and snacks. Try to have a 20 min nap on your break, take an alarm clock or timer. You wake rejuvinated for the last couple of hours of your shift. Eat breakfast when you get home, uplug phone, darken room and sleep as long as you can. Get exercise or activity during day then schedule a couple of hours sleep before work. Thay way you arrive fresh and fool your body clock that it's not bedtime!

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