Family Doesn't Understand


I am a new grad, still on orientation. I worked days for the first 6 weeks and I switched to working nights (not by choice) for two weeks now. Is it common for family and friends not to have a clue about the stress we new nurses are under? Also, anyone else have a problem getting people to understand what working nights is like? I had a day off today and my husband woke me up at 7:30 AM!! I turn my phone off during the day when I am trying to sleep, and I am glad I do---people call me and leave messages, "Why are you sleeping so late?" Help!

flightnurse2b, LPN

2 Articles; 1,496 Posts

Specializes in EMS, ER, GI, PCU/Telemetry.

sorry you are going through this. transitioning to the opposite shift is always hard. i've ALWAYS worked nights, and now i'm orienting on days for a few weeks (god help me!). my boyfriend still works nights and on his days off is up all night with the TV on, playing guitar, clacking on the computer and it's like AHHHHHHHHHHHHH i have to get up at 5am!!!!!!!

anyway, there was a nurse who posted on here about this once and i'll never forget what she said, i got such a kick out of it....

she said she works nights in ICU and when she first started, her parents kept coming over in the middle of the day to say "hi" and whatever, and when she answered the door in her PJ's, they would say "oh, sorry, were you sleeping?"

so after a while of this, she decided that she would do the same to them. she went over to her parents house @ 3am, knocked on the door, and when her parents answered the door in their PJs, she said "oh, sorry, were you sleeping?"

kinda gives them a taste of what they are doing to you.

hope you adjust soon :)

Ruby Vee, BSN

67 Articles; 14,022 Posts

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching. Has 40 years experience.

i've found that people -- even people who should understand -- don't understand that when you work night shift you need to sleep sometimes! my first husband used to wake me up for the most trivial things . . . "do we have any milk?" (you're up -- look in the refrigerator!) "do you know where my shoes are?" (where did you leave them?) "can we go to the movies with sam and sue on friday night?" (the schedule is on the calender, if this question cannot wait the two hours until my alarm goes off). finally, on one of my nights off, i stayed up all night and woke him up frequently with equally inane questions. i wish i could say that solved the problem, but he was a self-centered sob who never did "get it."

my parents finally caught on, but i had a lot of problems with my neighbors. they'd come to the door and ring the doorbell, and if i didn't answer the doorbell they'd pound on the door until my dogs had barking frenzies. and then when i'd come to the door in my pajamas, they'd ask "why are you still sleeping?" fortunately, the staying up all night making noise and ringing their doorbells solved the problem with just one try!

ditto the insurance agent who kept calling me in the middle of the day. i called him back int the middle of the night.

if you treat your sleep time as sacred, people who care about you will eventually catch on.

an rt i used to work with was a big gun enthusiast. he worked straight nights and slept in his tighty whities. one afternoon, a couple of clean cut young men in black pants and white shirts came to his door to share the wonders of their religion with him. to say eldon wasn't interested in their religion was an understatement. in addition, he had an enormous red sign on his front door: "day sleeper. do not ring the doorbell unless the house is on fire." they rang his doorbell, he ignored it, but his three hunting dogs went into paroxsyms of barking. eldon heard the two young men (the front door was just under his bedroom window) giggling, and they rang the doorbell again. more frenzied barking. more giggling. the doorbell rang again. this time, eldon swung the door open wearing nothing but his jockey shorts and jacking his shotgun. the two young men turned as white as their shirts and ran off so fast they forgot their bicycles!

i've found the sight of me without any make-up works almost as well.


18 Posts

I understand the neighbors. I get so frusterated at my neighbor who used to work nights, so he shoud DEFINATELY understand. We used to wait to do anything outside, like mow the lawn. I would even tell anyone going door to door not to knock on his door because he was sleeping. Now most seems like...that I am asleep he's got his lawn mower going or his weed eater, or some other lawn equipment that it seems like they are using "at me." I know they are not. One thing that I do, which I have found helpful, is the TV. I was having trouble falling asleep because of the little bits of light coming in. It was mostly dark in the room, but I still knew that it was daytime in my head. I started setting the sleep timer on my TV and that light, which didn't bother me for some reason, would allow my mind to overlook the daylight and I could fall asleep. Then the TV would go off automatically with the sleep timer.

I have just been casually suggesting to my neighbors that I sleep in the daytime now. If I see them out in the yard, "Yes, I missed that beautiful day the other day, because I was sleeping since I had to work the NIGHT before." Little hints that let them know to keep the noise down. Good luck, hopefully it gets better!

Ruby Vee, BSN

67 Articles; 14,022 Posts

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching. Has 40 years experience.

i use black-out shades. they're somewhat pricey but well worth it. and an industrial fan on high to drown out any noise in the neighborhood!

Specializes in ED, ICU, MS/MT, PCU, CM, House Sup, Frontline mgr. Has 15 years experience.

no, sadly my husband understands............... he is a marine (for those of you who do not get the joke... military people work stupid hours many days of the week and switch shifts with very little notice.. sleep and a good schedule is a luxury for many of them)....

btw, i love nights and i am back... however i have to work days sometimes due to training or a need for nurses to work a shift... not to mention i have nurse friends who work days who keep wanting to talk to me and forget when i sleep (some think i am up on my days off as if i do not need to sleep when i am not going into work)!!! i have not tried the call them in the middle of their night yet, but i am thinking of doing so with at least one. :icon_roll

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