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Early Morning Nurses (and Nursing Students)

I'm trying to get as many people in nursing as possible to comment on this issue. How do you get up in the morning for your shift or clinical, especially if you are not a morning person? What's your morning routine look like? How do you avoid sleeping in? What happens if you've gotten little sleep the night before?

Here.I.Stand, BSN, RN

Has 16 years experience. Specializes in SICU, trauma, neuro.

I work 3-11p now, but when I worked days or did clinicals I set multiple alarms. Actually my last semester of nursing school I got up at 0430 because I had an 8 mo. old baby and had to pump before getting ready. You can set a loud one across the room if you're like me and sometimes hit snooze in your sleep. Go to bed early. Get professional advice if insomnia is a regular thing. Lay out your clothes and pack your lunch the night before.

momathoner09

Has 12 years experience. Specializes in Cardiac.

My shift starts at 6am. I usually clock in around 0545. I set several phone alarms- 0345 and 405, etc. I leave my house between 5-515 depending on how fast I am moving that day. I try to pack my lunch the night before. I try to be in bed between between 8-9 and fast asleep before 10. I usually average about 6-7 hours of sleep on the days I work. It's just hard to go to bed so early. Especially in the summer!

I take unisom or ZzQuil usually the first night. But then the next night I'm usually tired by 8pm. That only works if I work consecutive shifts though. I've never (knock on wood) overslept. I used to get up to run at 5am though so it's not hard for me to get up early.

Once you get in a routine, it's not too hard.

Clinicals start at 7 am. Sometimes I have to be there at 630. My clinical sites are anywhere from 30-60 minutes away. And I have 2 small kids. This means must wake up at 430/5 to get to clinicals on time.

Plus, if I'm doing care plans the night before , I'm going to sleep anywhere from 12-3am.

Things I do: prepare meals ahead of time. Whether this means dinner so I have more time to work on care plans and go to sleep earlier, or breakfast so I can simply get up, get dressed and go.

I take a shower the morning of to help wake me up.

I set my alarm 5-10 minutes earlier so I can snooze once or twice and still be on time.

All my clothes and supplies are ready and laid out the night before. Bag packed.

I'm exercising regularly. I have more energy.

Night person here like the 2 previous posters, set multiple alarms. I had to get up at 4:30 to get to clinical on time. For me, nothing made it easier. I just had to suck it up and get up anyway, no matter how little sleep I had. My routine was simple, as I made sure to wash and blow dry my hair the night before, so all I had to do was throw it up, put on my uniform, brush my teeth and go. It was a miserable time.

Coffee Nurse, BSN, RN

Has 10 years experience. Specializes in NICU.

I've just never let myself get into

the habit of snoozing alarms, so I set one and get straight out of bed when it goes off. I wash my hair every morning (otherwise I feel like a greaseball), so by the time I'm halfway through my shower I'm starting to gain consciousness. Then blow dry and a bowl of cereal. I wake up at 5.45 and arrive at 7.15 for a 7.30 start. For me, it's just about sticking to the routine; I don't like getting up early but it's part of adulting, so I get on with it.

Yeah - that is how adult life is ... getting up and planning your life in a way you can do it.

I used to start at 6 am when I was in school because our clinicals started 6 and later first shift started at 6 am. I had to get up at 4:15 due to commute and getting ready. That basically meant to go to bed latest 10 pm for me, no wild partying or having a drink before bed or such. Once your body adjusts to getting up early it is easier when you always get up early.

I worked rotation shift and that was terrible in terms of sleep and such as a new graduate.

I am not a morning person by nature and at some point was able to work evening shifts only for a while but had to go back to a different schedule because of my kids.

I get up at 5 am for work and leave the house at 6:45.

I plan on what to wear the night before and make sure that everything is ok - I do not like to iron in the morning.

I am really slow in the morning and I set 2 alarms on my phone.

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

Has 14 years experience. Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych.

I'm a hardcore night person who made the switch to working daylight hours within the past year. I never obtain enough sleep simply because I cannot fall asleep at a 'normal' time of night.

To awaken in the morning I set the alarm, muddle through the morning with my coffee to avoid feeling groggy, and just suck it up. If left to my natural devices, I'd sleep in until noon every day.

SilleLu

Has 3 years experience.

Avoid caffeine after 4 pm the night before, two alarms. No more than one snooze. Coffee and wake up slowly while browsing online or reading/watching news. If I have trouble falling asleep night before, I use the 4-7-8 breathing method (google can explain) and find a white noise source.

Agree with many of the above - no caffeine (though after 1pm for me!), multiple alarms in the morning, and have everything packed. I'll even go so far as to put my breakfast bagel on a plate in the fridge so it's ready. My bags need to be in the car the night before as well, or I'll undoubtedly forget one. I can't tell you how many times I forgot my breast pump at home before I started doing that! I also take melatonin before bed or I can't go to sleep because I'm a night owl. Mornings suck and it's not something I was ever able to get in the habit of, but it's doable.

MPKH, BSN, RN

Has 10 years experience.

Not a morning person. For my 0700-1900 shift, I try to be asleep by 2200, and I set my alarm at 0600. I get out of bed after hitting snooze once, brush my teeth and wash my face, and change into my scrubs. I aim to start my drive between 0630-0640. I don't eat breakfast at home (that's what my first break is for!), and live close to work. For the most part, I suck it up.

whichone'spink, BSN, RN

Has 3 years experience.

Oh, damn clinicals. I would be up until past midnight finishing care plans and then would have to wake up by 4:00 to get ready. I'd come half an hour early to get patient med lists ready and all that. I was not a morning person then and still am not. What motivated me was, well, I had to get up. Same when I started working as a nurse. Now I feel more energetic in the morning because I started going to the gym, even on work days. Yes, I have to get up at 4:00 but it helps wake me up more. Wish I started doing this earlier.

I am also not a morning person, and getting up early is always a challenge. I have done it for the past 10 years, and it really doesn't get easier. I set 2 alarms on my phone, one for 6:43 am and one for 6:44 am. I don't let myself snooze. I get up and immediately take my shower. Usually I feel a bit better after showering. By the time I get to work at 8 am I usually feel much more awake.

On the weekends I try to keep a somewhat earlier schedule then I would naturally prefer. I try to be up by 9:30, or 10:30 if I stay up really late. Life would probably be easier if I stuck to an even earlier schedule on the weekends, but I so look forward to my two days of sleeping later.

BSN16

Specializes in ICU, trauma.

i set an alarm clock at 5:30....5:35.....5:40...5:45....

yeah i'm one of those people:laugh:

adventure_rn, BSN

Specializes in NICU, PICU.

My shift starts at 6am. I usually clock in around 0545. I set several phone alarms- 0345 and 405, etc. I leave my house between 5-515 depending on how fast I am moving that day. I try to pack my lunch the night before. I try to be in bed between between 8-9 and fast asleep before 10. I usually average about 6-7 hours of sleep on the days I work. It's just hard to go to bed so early. Especially in the summer!

I take unisom or ZzQuil usually the first night. But then the next night I'm usually tired by 8pm. That only works if I work consecutive shifts though. I've never (knock on wood) overslept. I used to get up to run at 5am though so it's not hard for me to get up early.

Ooh yes, I agree with all of this advice.

I have overslept an alarm (during new grad orientation :bag:) and vowed never to do it again. My best advice for getting up is to have an alarm clock strategy. I have multiple alarms set on my iPhone next to my bed, starting 20 mins before I need to get up; each gets progressively more annoying, ending with that one that sounds like a fog horn. My back up alarm is an actual alarm clock on the opposite side of my bedroom so I have to get out of bed to turn it off; it is set to that horrible staticy sound in between radio stations at the loudest possible volume.

I know it's counterintuitive, but getting up even earlier than you have to can be really helpful. Even though I could sleep until 6 and be out the door at 6:20, I've found it's better to set my final alarm for 5:30. That way I have time to actually wake up, eat breakfast, and make sure that I have everything I need before I've got to be out the door.

Whether sleeping before a night shift or day shift, I am all about the ZzQuil. FYI, if you're on a budget, the active ingredients in ZzQuil are just Benadryl and a tiny bit of alcohol... Like momathorner said, after you've done your first consecutive shift, its easier to fall asleep for the next ones because you're so tired.

In school, it definitely helps to try to get your prep work for clinicals done ahead of time (I know, much easier said than done). That way, you're not staying up late the night before finishing it, laying in bed worrying about it, or rushing to complete it the morning of.

HouTx, BSN, MSN, EdD

Has 35 years experience. Specializes in Critical Care, Education.

OK - as a prospective nurse, this would be a great time to look into "evidence-based practice" in order to make the right decisions. There is a TON of research on the subject of sleep. Recent findings are focusing on the importance of sleep cycles. Great info HERE

Basically, there are stages of sleep - from very deep "drool sleep" when you're dead to the world, to REM sleep, which the lightest stage... when you dream. During REM sleep, you're closest to waking -- so actually waking up during this stage is much less disruptive to your system. On the other hand, if you are jarred awake during stage 3 (drool sleep) - you'll feel horrible and groggy. Everyone's sleep cycle is unique, but you can explore yours... there's an app for that! You can use your cell phone to help determine your sleep cycle - there are a few apps, actually.

Once you have determined your own sleep cycle, you can figure out when you should go to sleep.... by using math (I know, ugh) to determine how to best ensure that you'll be in REM sleep when it's time to wake up. Even if you end up getting less sleep overall, you'll feel better than if you get more sleep, but wake up in the wrong part of your sleep cycle.

So - in the spirit of scientific investigation... try it out. If nothing else, you may still be bleary-eyed and grumpy for those early arrival clinicals, but you may have the makings of a great research paper. At best, you may be end up being "that one" that is cheerful and raring to go at 6:30 AM.

NotAllWhoWandeRN, ASN, RN

Has 8 years experience.

OK - as a prospective nurse, this would be a great time to look into "evidence-based practice" in order to make the right decisions. There is a TON of research on the subject of sleep. Recent findings are focusing on the importance of sleep cycles. Great info HERE

Basically, there are stages of sleep - from very deep "drool sleep" when you're dead to the world, to REM sleep, which the lightest stage... when you dream. During REM sleep, you're closest to waking -- so actually waking up during this stage is much less disruptive to your system. On the other hand, if you are jarred awake during stage 3 (drool sleep) - you'll feel horrible and groggy. Everyone's sleep cycle is unique, but you can explore yours... there's an app for that! You can use your cell phone to help determine your sleep cycle - there are a few apps, actually.

Once you have determined your own sleep cycle, you can figure out when you should go to sleep.... by using math (I know, ugh) to determine how to best ensure that you'll be in REM sleep when it's time to wake up. Even if you end up getting less sleep overall, you'll feel better than if you get more sleep, but wake up in the wrong part of your sleep cycle.

So - in the spirit of scientific investigation... try it out. If nothing else, you may still be bleary-eyed and grumpy for those early arrival clinicals, but you may have the makings of a great research paper. At best, you may be end up being "that one" that is cheerful and raring to go at 6:30 AM.

This is nice if you can actually decide when you'll fall asleep (There are people who can sleep when they want to?? I'm skeptical :laugh:).

NotAllWhoWandeRN, ASN, RN

Has 8 years experience.

FYI, if you're on a budget, the active ingredients in ZzQuil are just Benadryl and a tiny bit of alcohol...

Not quite! Nyquil products have doxylamine succinate as the antihistamine/drowsiness inducer, which you can find under the brand name Unisom. Both Unisom and Benadryl can make you pretty groggy the next day, so don't experiment with new meds on the night before clinical. Taking them earlier in the evening can help minimize the hangover.

As others have said, it helps to avoid stimulants in the evening. Do something relaxing as you're winding down for bed like reading, listening to music, doing some guided meditation, or something fun like ASMR (never heard of it? grab your earbuds and go to YouTube!). TURN THOSE LIGHTS OFF. Any light, but particularly the blue light from electronic devices, interferes with production of the sleep hormone melatonin.

I set increasingly obnoxious alarms starting at "It would be smart to get up at this time" and running through "Get up now or you'll be late." I'll also set an alarm across the room next to some Diet Coke. If I reward myself for stumbling across the room with a glass of bubbles and caffeine, I tend to avoid hitting snooze more easily.

Allow extra time for your drive and arrival, always. There will be random setbacks of weather or traffic so it's smart to be early anyway, but my day always starts a little more smoothly if I have a few minutes after arrival to take a deep breath, gather my thoughts, and start settling in for the day.

Y'all will never believe this. I am not and have never been a morning person per se' I have no problem getting up, just dont mess with me :mad: My Fiance' particularly loves that one. So here's my mornings and have been my mornings for a lotta years.

I do not and never have used an alarm clock. I dont even know how to set one. I plan on bedtime being 8-830. I shower lotion blah blah blah, get all nested in bed, making sure the fan is on the ac is on (seasonally), set the timer on the TV and before I see what's actually on the TV I will be out cold. I am literally asleep THAT fast.

Here's the worst. I am awake...wide freaking awake between Midnight and 130am. Without fail. NO matter what time I go to bed, what kind of day Ive had or where Ive been.........I WILL BE AWAKE between those hours. Unfortunately there is no going back to sleep. I cant and its not for lack of trying. The fiance' makes coffee, I sit at the desk in my home office and surf the PC. About 430 I take a quick shower, do the hair / make up etc and get dressed and out the door by 5. He packs me a lunch and hands me coffee as I walk out the door. I start work at 6 and get home about 4.

I get as little as 90 minutes of sleep a night...never more than 4...MAYBE 5. I have some major pain issues and that is usually what wakes me. My back has been broken a couple times and that does not lend itself to any degree of comfort for sleeping.

Pretty crazy but I have never over slept or used an alarm clock. I can take a power nap at work sometimes during break by looking at my watch, telling myself something like "Ok, ya got 9 minutes, make it quick" and I will doze so deep and quick I will actually dream ...but be wide awake and ready to work in 9 minutes!! (Another oddity...I only look at a watch or clock once in any given day...from then on I can tell you what time it is within 2 minutes at any point ..without looking)

Have an awesome evening

RNperdiem, RN

Has 14 years experience.

I make life easier by doing as much as possible the night before. My lunch is packed and in the fridge, my uniform is laid out, shoes are in the car, backpack by the door ready to go, shower taken the night before work. The fewer decisions to make and things to remember, the easier getting out the door becomes.

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