Nights in the ER??

  1. Hi all!
    I am a new member to the site, but have puttered around here without being a member for a while now..
    I am due to graduate from a BSN-RN program in December of this year and will start in the ER in mid-January with 4 to 5 months of orientation to start (so assuming everything goes okay, I will start on my "own" in May/June/July). I did my capstone in the ER, and I loved it and could not imagine myself being anywhere else, but my question or rather advice I am seeking is about the shift I will be working!
    I have signed to do nights (7p-7a), and never experienced them yet- I am only 23, so I feel like I can adjust alright, but does anyone have helpful hints on adjusting to the completely opposite schedule, how to keep from gaining what I hear is an average of 10 pounds when working nights, how to get a good.. day's (hehe) sleep, what the pace is like during nights?
    Also, any other knowledge or tips you want to impart on me as well would be much appreciated!
  2. Visit scrubsandasmile profile page

    About scrubsandasmile

    Joined: Nov '12; Posts: 44; Likes: 23
    from US


  3. by   kimRN512
    Believe it or not, I love nights! I actually have lost 5 pounds also. Make sure you wake up early enough to eat a normal dinner before you go to work, eat a small snack at around 2am, and when I get home I just go straight to bed instead of eat. When I work I only end up eating one meal that day (not healthy i know, but hey i'm not complaining about losing weight either )

    Working nights is a lot more calm (at least in my unit (IMCU) it is, not sure about ER) and you have a lot more autonomy.

    Good luck! Message me if you have any questions
  4. by   scrubsandasmile
    Thank you so much for your reply! How do you feel like the team dynamic is on nights compared to days, any differences or things I should look out for??
  5. by   Runner1989
    In my ER night shifters stay together. We are such an awesome team! We always have each others back. I love night shift and my teammates.
  6. by   scrubsandasmile
    How did you all get used to working nights? How do you make sure that you get the sleep you need- I've heard lots of tricks: melatonin, white noise machines, light blocking curtains..
  7. by   NickiLaughs
    Melatonin helps, I run a loud fan (i'm talking a fan that's a step up from the box fan, they usually sell them in home depot) for white noise and to block out oustide. My husband also blocked out the window with one of those white plastic pull down shades with velcro on the edges so I can cinch it tight and get no light in. That usually is enough for me. Occasionally an OTC sleep aid I will need. But for the most part that's enough. And don't wake up too early on your days off unless you plan on taking a nap, it's very hard to completely switch your schedule back and forth. I would aim for getting up around noon. Which is ideal for a 23 year old anyway. Good luck!
  8. by   lindsayalyssa
    I work in a level I ED and nights are our busiest time. In a 12 hr shift I am lucky I get a break to eat (AND we are often adequately staffed -- just busy). Night shifts are fun and we have great teamwork. The other day my patient load was a non-STEMI, hgb of 4, fall on blood thinners, and chest pain. I was SO overwhelmed but there was always someone that was willing to help me out with a line or EKG. Often times I am so busy during shift that the sleeping part isn't the issue. By the time I hit my pillow around 8am I am so tired I will sleep through anything (although my black out shades don't hurt).
  9. by   scrubsandasmile
    Quote from lindsayalyssa
    Often times I am so busy during shift that the sleeping part isn't the issue. By the time I hit my pillow around 8am I am so tired I will sleep through anything (although my black out shades don't hurt).
    That is kind of what I figured anyway, but I'm glad that my suspicions were correct! What do you find is the most challenging or frustrating part of working nights or even just working in the ER?
  10. by   NurseOnAMotorcycle
    Honestly, I know people have strategies for sleeping during the day, but I sleep when I'm tired and am awake when I wake up. The day after night shift is on again/off again napping, but then I'm fine.

    I wouldn't change night shift for anything cuz like Runner1989 said: Night shifters stay together. It's fantastic teamwork. I love that I send my kids to school and nap the day away. Staying awake and weight control is easy because I'm too darn busy to be tired or to eat!
  11. by   SweetCorn
    I work primarily nights and enjoy them.
    The sleeping takes some time to get used to but in general, if I'm working 2 nights in a row, I try to do the following:
    I will try to stay up a little later the night before and sleep a little later. This makes the first night a little easier, for me at least. You can also take a nap in the afternoon before your first shift, but some people can't do this.
    The day after my first shift, sleep a good 7-8 hours or whatever is your normal amount. I don't have a problem doing this because I'm exhausted and my body needs sleep. This means you're up around 3 PM which gives you a few hours to prepare for that night's shift. During this time you can eat a good meal and prepare your food for the night. I typically take a regular sized meal and eat it when I have a chance, preferably around 2 or 3. Preparing and taking your own food is key to the weight mgmt thing, IMHO.

    After the second night, I will only sleep 3 or 4 hours and force myself to get out of bed. This is difficult but it allows you (hopefully) to be able to get back onto a regular sleep cycle. I try to stay up until 10 pm or so if I can because sometimes if I don't (go to sleep around 8), I'll find myself waking up around 2 or 3 am for an hour or so.

    I really enjoy the camaraderie during nights. We are pretty close and we have fun.
  12. by   scrubsandasmile
    This was SO helpful, Sweetcorn! Thank you!
  13. by   SweetCorn
    You're welcome!
  14. by   DC Collins
    Three things have helped me GREATLY (I used to work 7p-7a and then they changed it to 6p-6a). I have only been an RN for 2 years, and all of my experience has been nights in the ED. I am now 50, just for background comparisons.

    1) Blackout curtains in the bedroom.

    2) Trazadone. One pill puts me out for about 6 Very good hours of sleep. I usually sleep beyond that for up to two more hours, but normal daytime noises might wake me sometimes. Yet, those 6 hours, because they are so good are plenty. The n ice thing is that, after the pill wears off 6 hours or so later, I am not groggy at all like some sleeping pills can make one. One caveat though! It tends to make people's dreams very vivid. So if you regularly have nightmares, this is not the way to go. But if your dreams tend to be nice, neutral, or even just weird, this isn't a problem.

    3) You may be highly tempted, especially at your age, to switch your sleep schedule back and forth from days to nights, considering you will likely only work 3 days / week. Don't do it! For example, I typically get up at 3-330pm to lazily get ready to be at work at six. On my days off, if I am extra tired, I may sleep in till 4-5pm. If I have something I want to do during the day, I will get up a couple of hours earlier, like 1-2pm. But short of vacation when I have more than a week off, I don't switch. Trying to switch throws me way off. But then, I'm old now, lol.

    Good luck, welcome to nights, and to the shift differential ;P