How to get through Night Shifts

  1. Hi all,

    I am going to be doing 8 hour night shifts. I haven't done them before. I am not sure how my body will respond. Any ideas on how to prepare and get through them? What should I do and not be doing. Advice, suggestions, comments???

    Joanne
    New Grad Nurse
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  2. Visit joey1967 profile page

    About joey1967

    Joined: Mar '04; Posts: 61

    23 Comments

  3. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    Drink water. Caffeine gives a temporary boost, but the crash from it leaves you twice as exhausted.

    Eat well, and eat healthy food. Junk will make you tired.

    Get as much sleep as you can.
  4. by   JoniL&DRN
    I've never worked a night shift before but I have heard people say that if you are just ABSOLUTELY exhausted during work.. go outside and sprint for 50 yards and it will wake you right up!
  5. by   madwife2002
    Quote from rn2be_joni
    I've never worked a night shift before but I have heard people say that if you are just ABSOLUTELY exhausted during work.. go outside and sprint for 50 yards and it will wake you right up!

    Will the staffing levels allow you to leave unit and go outside and sprint?
    For me the first night is the worst, try get a rest before you go to work. We do 12 hour nights and I try to get middle break and have something to eat. What sort of night time breaks do you get in US and are you able to snooze on your break?
  6. by   UnewmeB4
    Quote from joey1967
    Hi all,

    I am going to be doing 8 hour night shifts. I haven't done them before. I am not sure how my body will respond. Any ideas on how to prepare and get through them? What should I do and not be doing. Advice, suggestions, comments???

    Joanne
    New Grad Nurse
    If you can, or need, take a 2 hr nap before going in. Don't succumb to the nightshift junk food habit. It just isn't healthy. Will you be rotating, or doing all nights? That makes a difference as well, as you need to balance your schedule.

    Hopefully, you will be on a busy floor. That is when being busy is a blessing! Nightshift tends to be the "cleanup" shift, for obvious reasons. Learn to accept it. If you are in a hospital, you will probably be doing 24 hr chart checks, when you find "oops!" things not done, or orders not taken off correctly, etc. You may be the only one who has the time to read a chart. I always make notes of tests results, etc. to pass on in report. Chances are, if you have med carts, you will be doing the restocking. Til you make rounds, give the 12 o'clock meds, do your charting, and the chart checks, etc, you may be at least halfway through the night...or more! The toughest time is usually between 3 and 4, maybe even til 4:30. That is the best time to take a break. I would personally take that time to walk, perhaps do some steps, something that will stimulate your CV system. Usually, that is the "hump" time. After that, you will be getting the 5 and 6 a.m. meds ready, and you will be moving until it is time for report.

    If you are tired when getting home, eat something lite. I usually set my alarm to get up early enough to still have some daylight to get out in. You do need that!

    Best of luck!
  7. by   purplemania
    the secret is to make sure friends and family know to respect your sleeptime. Do not fool yourself either. You NEED that sleep. Nights can be fun. I did it for years and still miss the fun times.
  8. by   RayneFrog
    Quote from purplemania
    the secret is to make sure friends and family know to respect your sleeptime. Do not fool yourself either. You NEED that sleep. Nights can be fun. I did it for years and still miss the fun times.
    What is so fun about it??
  9. by   meownsmile
    8 hour shifts will be much easier than 12 hour shifts at night. I agree with making sure people know when you work and not to call, turn ringers off on phones and turn the machine down so you dont hear it. Earplugs, darken the room as much as possible so you get as close to night time sleep as possible. Your system should adjust fairly quickly. Try not to eat to much of the junk food that shows up on night shifts. You will have your sleepy periods during the night, make those your rounds time.
  10. by   blackIrish
    I LOVE night shift. I have only worked it for about a year now.
    The first night IS the hardest- eat clean and healthy- no junk- it really makes a difference.
    Although, I occasionally have a Red Bull drink at about 3:30am. This does help me through the really slow nights.
    The fun part for me is the staff. We are pretty much all steady night shifters, so we are all friends.(for the most part) Almost everyone helps anyone else when needed. We bring food at least once a week. I will also be doing nights as a GN. (one week till grad.)
    I feel I will be able to get my bearings and hopefully not be SO overwhelmed as a new grad.
    Brandy
  11. by   nursescar
    Quote from bbuff
    I LOVE night shift. I have only worked it for about a year now.
    The first night IS the hardest- eat clean and healthy- no junk- it really makes a difference.
    Although, I occasionally have a Red Bull drink at about 3:30am. This does help me through the really slow nights.
    The fun part for me is the staff. We are pretty much all steady night shifters, so we are all friends.(for the most part) Almost everyone helps anyone else when needed. We bring food at least once a week. I will also be doing nights as a GN. (one week till grad.)
    I feel I will be able to get my bearings and hopefully not be SO overwhelmed as a new grad.
    Brandy
    I too will be working four nights a week with my new job and am interested in learning what I can about "nights"
  12. by   QuickExams
    Quote from nursescar
    I too will be working four nights a week with my new job and am interested in learning what I can about "nights"
    Tom Trimble, of Emergency Nursing World, has some great tips at
    http://enw.org/NightShift.htm

    He's humorous, and the tips helped me out a lot back in the day, when I was trying to learn how to be a night nurse.

    Watch your speakers, though - he has a tendency to liven up his pages with music :Melody:

    Loud music :Melody:
  13. by   LilSproutRN
    get sleep when you can...remember you still need as many hours of sleep as if you were still working days
  14. by   blackIrish
    Oh most important. I forgot to add about getting your sleep.
    Funny thing, my MIL watches my nephew for my SIL because she works 40hrs./week, Mon.-Fri. She has him from 7a-5:00p EVERY DAY.(except weekends)
    On the rare occasion I need someone to cover for my kids so I can sleep after a 7p-7a, she will watch them, but tells me I need to be there to pick them up by 1 or 2 in the afternoon.
    For some reason, everyone seems to think all of this sleeping in the daytime is unnecessary. I have a really hard time with MIL and even my own mother helping me with childcare so I can sleep. (My husband understands, when he is off, I sleep till 5p)

    My point is, MAKE SURE you get enough sleep. You will be no good to anyone if you are always trying to catch up on sleep. (I speak from experience )


    Brandy

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