Exhausted night shifter

Nurses General Nursing


I am so wiped out I had to call in sick tonight. I felt really guilty (even though I called 4 hrs ahead of shift). Ii am new to noc shift,just started again a few weeks ago.I was doing fine the first 2 weeks.I basically keep the same schedule on off days.Is this extreme fatigue normal? I never felt this on days even though physically the day shift was more grueling and insanely paced! Will I feel like this forever,or is this my body trying to adjust? Thanks.

Everything you describe is frequently seen in people on nightshift. However, always remember that these symptoms can be caused by other conditions. I always said I loved nightshift but it hated me.

Yes, the extreme fatigue is normal. Night shifts take awhile to get use to. It really disrupts your sleeping and eating habits. It important to establish some sort of routine schedule right away or it can really screw you up. AND don't feel guiltly for calling in sick. You have to take care of yourself! I have been a nurses since 1978 and night shifts never got easier for me. I always had such a hard time getting enough good sleep. I always felt tired, like I was in a fog. That's why the night shift differential should be atleast $5/hr, because of the toll it takes on us.

I did night shift for about 3 years. It took me a few months at first to sleep at least 6 hours during the day. After 2 years, it got to where I could not sleep during day. So I was not sleeping during day and working during night, and I was just running on "fumes" most of the time. I finally quit the night shift and have had trouble sleeping ever since. It's been 6 years and I still have trouble. I think the night shift screws with the circadian rhythm. I am tired of family, friends, and even MD friends say, "Well, just exercise and eat right, don't take naps, don't drink caffeine after 5 PM, don't be stressed out over anything, etc. etc. etc. I have tried it all. All I know is about 11 PM most nights I get a surge of adrenalin and I am ready to go to work.

Thanks for the responses,I was starting to think I was deficient in some way.I'm going to try to get back to days ASAP. I do like the night shift as you do oramar, it just hates me!The $3.25 differential is not worth feeling this rotten.

Specializes in Hospice, Critical Care.

$3.25 differential! Yikes...ours is $0.75. Regardless, tho, I HATE night shift. I avoid it whenever possible but I have to work 5 nights in a 6 week schedule which isn't too bad, really. It's just that I really, really hate night shift.

I've worked night shift for well over 6 years....the only real problem seems to bo the other shift's attitude towards nocs. And of course the attitude of the powers that be. ALL mandantory inservices are held " in the middle of my sleep time"....All nursing dinners or rewards, are held for the first 2 shifts and nocs is left out. Getting used to nocs almost physically injured me....take good vitamins and remember that YOUR sleep comes before phone calls!!! No one wakes me unless it's a life or death matter!!!! :cool:

Working night shift isnt for everyone and if it isnt working for you definitely go to another shift. We need healthy happy nurses not near dead bodies to count on the census.

I work as a clinical coordinator on evening and night shifts. Most of my weeks are a combination of both shifts. I demanded no double shifts and no double back shifts. I still do both occasionally so other co-workers can have the day off they need but not to appease the facility.

The stress level in the health care field is bad enough with the added work and responsibilities and less staff, you don't need to have a really incompatible schedule on top of that.

As far as how I do the sleep thing, I am a morning person so daylight and evenings dosent present a problem. Nights is another story, I sleep for 2-3 hours in the morning when I get home then I get up and do something I enjoy or feel I need to accomplish so there is some kind of self satisfaction in there. I like to golf and I might add I golf really bad when I am doing it on 3 hours of sleep LOL but I enjoy it. I might ride my bicycle or go out to lunch with a friend. Sometimes just working in the yard for 3 or 4 hours is enough or reading a book that has been sitting on the shelf neglected for weeks or months since purchase. After doing something for me I lay down again for 2 to 4 hours before going back to work that night. That nap before work seems to be my key, I feel refreshed.

It wasnt that simple when I had little kids though and I can really relate to those of you trying to juggle a career and raise a family at the same time.

After I read this and I realized I do babbly a bit when working nights LOL.


Night shift is not for everyone,us long term nightcrawlers adapt to the routine or leave the night shift.The fatigue pattern is rough at first,getting by on 5-6 hrs asleep a day is a plus.Mandatory meetings .......at night our ED staff goes,daytime meetings are a joke.

Specializes in ICU/CCU (PCCN); Heme/Onc/BMT.
Originally posted by iamme457:

After doing something for me I lay down again for 2 to 4 hours before going back to work that night. That nap before work seems to be my key, I feel refreshed.

I second the nap thing!!! I'm a grouchy man without the nap!


I love working nights, though. Because our small 5 bed CCU currently does not have a Unit Secretary or a nursing assistant, the day and evening nurses are constantly bombarded by the phone calls and other interruptions. Hardly get any interruptions at night!!! YEAH!!

By the way . . . there are two full time night positions available on our CCU unit. The name of the hopsital is Fairview Hospital located in Great Barrington, MA. It's the second smallest hospital in MA. Total potential census for the whole hospital is about 35 beds including the med/surg floor, CCU, maternity, and ER. It really is a very nice place . . . overall, the patient/nurse ratio is quite reasonable, the people are friendly, and the acuity is usually quite reasonable. The reason this hopsital exists is because it services three states in a fairly rural (and rather wealthy)area. The closest hospital is over 25 miles away. Anyone interested?!?!? The pay is reasonable. (Damned nursing shortage!)

:) Ted Fiebke, RN

[ May 10, 2001: Message edited by: Edward F. ]

I know the night shift thing pretty well. I have been able to do it in the past, but I just can't now. I work 12 hour shifts three days in a row. I can't sleep at ALL. I look like I have two black eyes. I unplug the phone and the answering machine. But I can't seem to control the doorbell ringing or the neighbors cutting their grass all day in start and stop mode, or the neighbors riding their four wheeler through my backyard. OH, so tired. I am really torn. But I know that I can't go on much more. I tried sedatives, no work at all. Help.

When I worked night shifts, my husband bought me a sound machine. It really helped to drown out all outside noises during the day while I slept. Hope this helps?

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