Top Five Tips for Night Shift? For a new nurse? - page 2

Hi everyone, I'm a new grad and I'm starting in heme/onc at a pediatric hospital next month. I'm going to be working three 12-hour shifts a week (nights), and I'm wondering if there are any tips any... Read More

  1. by   muffie
    drink h2o
    eat light
    keep busy
    decaf liquids
    be compassionate towards co-workers
    Last edit by muffie on Jan 24, '07 : Reason: forgot an m
  2. by   Myxel67
    Quote from Suesquatch
    Pack a lot of healthful food. Otherwise, vending machine city.

    Day shift will talk a lot of trash about what nights gets away with. Keep your butt well covered and give no one any reason to gossip about you.
    If you are going to stay awake all night and work effectively, make sure to get enough sleep during the day. I worked nights for 9 years and saw many nurses nodding off from time to time.

    12 hour shifts can be a health risk. Make sure you drink plenty of water at work. I developed kidney stones after 3 years of 12 hr shifts. Was not able to drink enough water at work. Then when I went home, I slept. So there did not seem to be enough time in which to drink the amount of water I needed. I suggest not working all 3 shifts in a row. Try 2 on, a day off, * then the 3rd shift. Good luck, and stay healthy.
  3. by   nursekatie22
    -lots of water. some night i don't drink enough and i can really tell a difference. course i then have to pee all the time, but whatever.

    -look up the things about the patients that you don't know. words, symptoms, etc. i got a pda with all kinds of interesting stuff on it that helps me stay awak and learn.

    -ask other people if they need help, if, god forbid, you're caught up with your work. they'll appreciate it and most likely they'll return the favour.

    -bring healthy food. my latest thing is diced's not that cheap this time of year, but it's so amazing when it's ripe that it helps me not want other sweet things. things like edamame are good too and so good for you!!

    -sleep during the day and try to group your days that you work. i'm currently not doing the latter because i'm crazy (according to co-workers) and i need the money. when i first started nights, i had to be careful about my sleep time because the schedule was so foreign to me, but now that i'm used to it, i can play around with it a little, but i still need the same amount of sleep to function well.

    -sometimes patients want to talk. if you're not busy this may be the one time you have (providing the patient has no interest in sleeping) to chat them up and maybe learn something more about them.

    -make time to do things with other people. you'll alienate yourself from friends and family very quickly if you don't do this. i'm still having a hard time with this one, but i'm getting better

    i know i'm repeating most of the things others have said, but it's important to remember the basics or you're gonna go nuts!!
  4. by   labrador4122
    I've been working nights for about 1 month and one week, and I love it.
    I worked at that hospital as a CNA for almost 4 years as a float during dayshift. and I will never EVER EVER EVER go to day shift.
    Night shift is awesome. It's a lot more quieter than day shift.
    I love the fact that i have 4 - 5 patients, depending on the night, and if I have 6 patients <-- the max, I only give maybe 2-4 meds each. Everything is computer charting, computer med (prevent errors).....
    I have 4 more shifts with the preceptor, so hopefully I will be OK once I am on my own.
  5. by   robinbird
    I've been working nights for a year and a half. I work three on and 4 off. I love the work, the comraderie and the pay. The most important thing that makes me feel better, is to exercise on my days off. I will even exercise in the afternoon of my first working-off day (worked night before, got off that morning, slept for 4-5 hours).

    When I first wake up I'm tired and dragging. I go for a run or to the gym to use the elliptical machine and I'm a new person! My kids usually have events going on in the afternoons so I drive them where they need to go, hit the gym then pick them up.

    I have found that if I can't work out for some reason I feel tired and irritable.

  6. by   nurseby07
    If you are like me, you may be stressing a bit about it. I usually don't nap before my first shift on, and the night is fine. I am a big fan of caffeine! I usually have a granola bar at midnight and when the weird 4 o'clock either-starving-or-going-to-vomit time hits, I have sugar free hot chocolate. I also would suggest a fleece vest. I get sooo cold at night!
    I also agree that a sleep-helper; ambien or benadryl is a godsend. Don't stress it too much, just do what your body tells you to do (not at work of course!) Usually on my first day off I go for a run, then hang around in my jammies watching tv. I do feel guilty about that, but ah-well. Good luck!
  7. by   MelBel
    I've realized that everyone needs a different kind of experiment and find what works for you!

    On my first day on, I go to sleep about 2am the night before, wake up at 8, run some errands, and then nap about 12-4. I make my "half days" my work days...laundry, shopping, etc. I sleep as long as I can when I work two in a row, and on my last shift, I try to only sleep about 4-5 hours so I can get to sleep at a normal time. For me, this is the perfect system, and I have had NO problem whatsoever since I started nights in July (but then again I sleep through EVERYthing, the light/noise/etc doesn't bother me).

    I never thought I wanted to do my 3 in a row, but lately it has seemed better that way...more days off in a row, and fewer "half days" of sleep. The only problem with that is the 3 days in a row are literally only sleep and work. yuck!

    Hope you find something that works for you!
  8. by   RiverNurse
    I've been at this for four months now and still struggle... amazingly busy floor even at night - mainly total care pts. I still don't have time to read charts as I'd like (guess it's b/c I'm still new). Either way, here are my tips:

    1. Be ready to be exhausted for (at the very least) 4 - 6 weeks. I found my brain did not function well at all. In fact, I think that had an impact on my orientation period - which was exclusively at night. I've never worked nights in my life - so I was not adequately prepared of the impact. Live and learn.

    2. Many issues (particularly physical) will percolate to the surface. For example, I was dx'ed with Type II diabetes midway through my orientation - which I am sure contributed to the above "brain fog". I think some of the 'night shift' symptoms I'd encountered (dizziness, exhaustion, in particular) can be attributed to hypoglycemic episodes.

    3. Bring food - and lots of it! I found that salads with higher protein helped a lot, cold water or tea, juice when my blood sugar dropped.

    4. B-Complex vitamins right before the shift begins - time release version. That is a new addition to my night shift work and I find I am a bit more focused and have a more energy.

    5. At "bedtime" - Sleep MD works very well for me - but I have to take it at least 6 hours before I am scheduled to "wake up". If I find I am getting to bed "late" - sometimes I take half.

    6. Turn off the phone - all the way!

    Take care of you!


  9. by   paulwalkman
    [font='times new roman']i was offered my first position as a night shift nurse on a very busy medsurge floor. we have bariatric, stroke, tele, and vent patients. i was wondering what to do on my days off. what do you do on your days off to help you keep the night shift hours? i plan on going to the gym a few nights per week and watching a little bit of tv, but that won't take me past midnight, well...maybe 1pm if i watch jay leno. what is there to do for the rest of the time? i heard it is best to try to keep the similar hours to the 7p-7a shift. if anyone has any suggestions about what to do while staying awake in the middle of the night please let me know. thanks
    [font='times new roman']-paul
  10. by   AprilRNhere
    I don't keep night hours on my days off. I want to be with my family. I try to work ALL my days in a row if possible...sometimes for me that's 7-9. BUT- regardless of if it's 3 or 9, I only sleep for 3-4 hours in the morning after my last night. Then I get up, stay busy and spend the day like a normal person. I go to sleep regular time with my family that night.

    When I have 3+ days off in a row...the last night off BEFORE my run, I stay up until 2-3 am. I do anything from read, TV, laundry etc. Then I wake up around 8. This way I'm tired enough to take a 3 hour evening nap before going to work. I love working nights and this has always worked well for me.

    When I have a REALLY rough night...those are the mornings I take unisom. If I don't... I feel TOO tired...I sleep too deeply and wake up in 4hours. Unfortunately...then I'm tired again right about the time I should leave for work.
  11. by   locolorenzo22
    Generally, I wind up doing the following....I'm still in school, so take these however you want.....
    1. Cut out caffine by 1AM (I work 5-5).
    2. Wind down and get in bed by 6-6:30AM
    3. Go to bed by 11PM when I'm not working the next night.
    4. If I have nothing going on, the first day after a run of shifts is spent in bed and the house....sleep til I catch up is my motto.
    5. Exercise on a regular basis...which I got out of the habit...just need to get back into it!
  12. by   phillies33
    I am starting nights and I am really worried about having my phone off while I sleep because my 6 year old is at school. My husband isn't always reachable during the day.

    I just have this horrible thought stuck in my head of my son falling from the monkey bars or throwing up and the school nurse not being able to let me know he needs me. !

    Any words of advice?
  13. by   NotReady4PrimeTime
    Get yourself a pay-as-you-go cell phone and only give the number to your son's school. Keep the phone handy to your pillow. Make sure the school knows they can only call you for true emergencies. They happen far less often than you'd believe.