Published Apr 1, 2004
I just had a question for those who have done night shift full-time. How is it to do 40 hours a week, 8 hour night shifts? Are 3 twelves easier on your body? Either way, My husband will watch the kids, so I can get sleep.
I've never had to do night shifts before, but am looking at doing it to get my foot in the door, and have to choose between the union hospital with the brand new OB unit that does 8 hour shifts, or the other nonunion hospital that does 12 hour shifts. I could go per diem, but then I would have to pay for medical benefits for the whole family, and the hours are not guaranteed, but I could choose to work days/evenings.
I have only ever worked 3-12's at night. None of it is easier on the body...especially when you have a family that doesn't keep the same hours as you. However, with 3-12's, you have 4days/week off as opposed to only 2 with 8's...which makes scheduling much better. For instance, on occasion, you could work the first 3 days of the week and then the last 3 days of the next week and have 8 days off without having to use vacation time. That comes in quite handy. Workwise - I loved night shift - fewer interruptions and more time to get your work done as a result, however, it really messed up my personal time because it was extremely difficult to totally switch back to day schedule on days off.
When I used to work nightshifts I found that taking Melatonin helped my body to adjust to the new schedule. It's something to look into in any case.
I worked 5-8s in a different industry. For me it was horrible. I can't sleep during the day more than an hour or two, so I was constantly exhausted. And when I could try to catch a little sleep, the kids kept bothering me.
I still don't work fulltime nights, but I have done 3-12s in one week and though I still have trouble sleeping, it's much easier on me. But that's just me.
Thanks for the insight! To those who have done nights, what helps you get into a rhythm? On your days off, do you still stay up late into the night and sleep in during the day, or are you obsessed by sleep any time you can get it?
I love nights and work 8's. I will occasionally go in early and work 12's. Once I got into the rhythm of working nights, it was cake. I do have to take sleeping pills, though on occasion. I usually get around 9-10 hours of sleep per day. I schedule my sleep so that I will be home and spend time with the kids (daughter in kindergarten) before the oldest goes to school, and then I get up so I can see my kids off to bed. Either way, I probably see them the same amount of time if I were to work days.
However, the biggest complaint about nights is the lack of support staff hospital wide. For some reason, everyone thinks that the patients are sleeping!!! Nope, when patients crash, they crash and less help is available.
As someone who has done both for years, stick with the three twelves. It is much less stressful and you get nice long stetches of time off. Sometimes I take 25mg of bendryl when I get home in the morning, especially if I have to go back in that day. I sleep until about 12:30pm, eat a small snack, and try to sleep more before I go to work. When I was single, I stayed up as late as possible on my nights off, but now with a family, I go to bed at a normal time and it seems to work. Yes, I do get obsessed with sleep when I am off. It's a lot nicer in the hospital at night - a much nicer routine.
Tweety, BSN, RN
The 12 hour shifts are brutal if you don't sleep well. Plus after a few days off going in at 7pm can be hard if you haven't slept a lot during the day. Seems my body had an easier time when I worked 5 eights because if I didn't sleep, I could catch up in the evening with a nap before I went in. But I didn't have a choice of shifts back then. Now I work 3 12-hour shifts and occasionally it's tough on the old body, but love having the four days off a week.
nursemary9, BSN, RN
I've done nights for 27 yrs. I've done 5-- 8 hr. shifts for the most part. I'm too old now to do the 12 hrs--my artificial hips rebel after 8 hrs!!
I love night shift, tho. They couldn't pay me enough to go back to days!!
I have less interruptions & my patients are right here when I need to do something with them--not going from dept. to dept!!
Some nights can be murder because there is less staff, but for the most part it is great!!
My husband has always been really supportive and helpful & this has helped a lot. Right now, he has retired so he plays "house-husband"!!
Thanks for the insight from all of you. I've been trying out some night shifts, and actually just got home at 5:am - dh needed the car or they would have kept me until 7:30. It is nicer when it is busy because I don't feel like falling asleep. However, my kids are going to get up in a few minutes and today is going to be brutal! Early bedtime today, and manditory naps for the whole family!
RNKitty, can I give you some advice? There are 2 things (IMO) that are essential for sleeping in the daytime:
1) A white noise machine or a loud fan
2) a cell phone or beeper, which you are to make known is ONLY to be called if there is an emergency (which better involve profuse bleeding or broken bones!) Then, TURN OFF YOUR HOUSE PHONE IN YOUR ROOM!!
And remember - your daytime sleep is just as important as everyone else's night time sleep. Don't let people talk you into getting up to do this or that "because you're going to be home anyway".
RNKitty, can I give you some advice? There are 2 things (IMO) that are essential for sleeping in the daytime: 1) A white noise machine or a loud fan 2) a cell phone or beeper, which you are to make known is ONLY to be called if there is an emergency (which better involve profuse bleeding or broken bones!) Then, TURN OFF YOUR HOUSE PHONE IN YOUR ROOM!!And remember - your daytime sleep is just as important as everyone else's night time sleep. Don't let people talk you into getting up to do this or that "because you're going to be home anyway".Good luck!
Oh my gosh, Do I ever agree with this 100%!!!
Can you believe that after working 27 yrs, on this shift, my sister still calls during my sleep time & then has the nerve to say "I forgot you work nights!!" Give me a break here--& I'm the one with blond hair!!!
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