full nights vs. rotating

  1. I received my BSN May 2002 and my nursing career commenced this summer on a small community hospital peds unit ... I am on night shift and loathe it! I am constatly tired, emotional, etc... my body is confused! I've tried everything - black out curtains, melatonin, sleeping mask, .... and am still very unhappy working nights. The day shift RN's have it great on this small unit and are not going anywhere, therefore I do not foresee days anywhere in my future. I am applying to a larger institition - where I most likely will not start on days - but there will hopefully be greater prospects of day shift in my future. One position I'm applying for has the option of full night shift or rotating day/night shifts. For people, like myself, who can't stand night shifts is there more light found in rotating? Or is it just too hard on your body? And is night shift considered 'paying your dues' everywhere?? How long does this generally have to last for a new grad? I love my job but am miserable! Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
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    About bluegirl

    Joined: Dec '02; Posts: 9


  3. by   Daedalus
    Although I'm not in the nursing field (I'm considering going back to school to get a degree in Nursing), I believe I can give you some feedback. I currently work as a police officer and we work rotating shift work: 12 hour shifts, 4 shifts on, 4 shifts off. We do 2 rotations of days and then 2 rotations of nights. You're not going to like what I have to say, but studies have shown that shiftwork decreases your life expectancy. I suffer from the same problems as you do Bluegirl. Shiftwork is very draining, both mentally and physically and you never really do get used to it.

    One way of coping with shiftwork is to make the most of your days off. Don't waste your time lounging on the couch watching TV, no matter how exhausted you are. Go for a walk, go to the gym or just hang out with friends. Wasting time at home on your days off will only lead to depression and make things worse...trust me, I know what I'm talking about.

    I'm sorry I can't put a bright spin on things, but shiftwork really does suck. Work your way up the ranks and maybe one day you can get that straight day job.

    Good luck!!
  4. by   911fltrn
    The only way to do nights is just that! You have to sleep the same hours every day. Including your days off. Example 1000 am to 1700 hrs every day! Hard to do if you have family! Happy New Years everyone!
  5. by   bluegirl
    Sleeping all day is not only hard to do if you have children ... But also if you are trying to develop relationships (but too moody/sleep deprived and on a bizarre schedule to do so), enjoy the outdoors, waking up early, the sunshine, etc....
    Working nightshift, I'm still waking up early on my days off to bike, ski, hike, etc... becuase those are the things that make me happy and keep me going. So, my body is in a permanent state of jet-lag and confusion. Has rotating days/nights been a better option than straight nights for anyone who loves the daytime?? Or is it better just to stick it out on full nights until I am able to get a day position? And is days based upon senority everywhere? (excuse my inchoerence it's nearing the end of my night shift
  6. by   traumaRUs
    Personally - I think there are some people that can't adjust to night shift. I've been on nights for over 10 years and really want to move to days also. However, just for convenience so that I work the same as hubby.

    I have found the most successful night-shift people treat the day sleeping just like you would at night - no telephone on, no outside interference. Let people know you sleep during the day and NOT to disturb you. My kids were young when I went to nightshift and they learned not to disturb mommy - daddy would be just as good to go to. I did have a stretch of time when husband was overseas and I stayed here with kids and then I invested in daycare during the day (and night unfortunately) so I could sleep. Of course I lived in Vegas at the time and 24/7 daycare is available.

    If you can't do nights, talk to your manager, recruitment, etc and see what else might be availabe. I know a lot of people work second shift when they have young ones.

    Good luck....judi
  7. by   emily_mom
    I don't think swing shift is going to help anything, as your body will just be more out of whack. It's not going to know when it's supposed to be sleeping or working....

    What about looking for a different dept in your hospital or this other one that offers days or PMs? Then you can keep your eye open for openings in Peds. I don't think you can keep doing what you're doing....you're going to crash and burn quickly....

  8. by   Tweety
    Not everyone can do nights. It takes a rare breed. Some people never adjust.

    Physically speaking rotating shifts are hard. You can always try it. Perhaps the day side of the rotation, you'll regain your sanity.

    When I was in nursing school many years ago. I read that people who rotate shifts have more physical problems than those who work strictly days. But the night shift workers were the most unhealthy. So for you it might be better to rotate. Try it. It won't be good for you at all, but maybe slightly better.
  9. by   Dazedgiggle
    When I was a CNA and for my first year and a half as an RN I worked full time nights, 5 eight hour shifts a week. As much as I HATED it, I did get used to it and it was very convenient for school. But like you said, it's nearly impossible to develop retlationships or do the things I like to do. When I switched jobs, I worked 12 hour rotating shifts, and I was really screwed up!! And I was lucky!! We didn't rotate for 6 weeks!! (6 weeks nights, 6 weeks days). I LOVED the day rotation, had no problem adjusting to that, but nights was a big problem, even though I had done it for so long. Problem was when I did 5 nights a week I just stayed up the other two nights and kept to my schedule, but with 12 hour shifts I only worked 3 nights a week, and I certainly wasn't going to stay up the four nights that I wasn't working. I hate to say it, but I have to agree with most people here, nights probably isn't good for too many people, but it's probably better than rotating if you have to do it. Just stay confident that you'll get that day position! It only took 8 months before I got my 12 hour days! Good luck!
  10. by   renerian
    I worked afternoons for five years on a wild hem/onc/bmt unit then night for a couple months. I ended up ill and in the hospital with malnutrition and exhaustion. I could not sleep during the day, could not eat on nights as I was so nauseated. I feel for you. Does your hospital have anyone on 8s that you could transfer to afternoons? What about another hospital?

  11. by   shunda
    I currently work night shift and I am in school. When I was working full-time on nights I too was miserable. So I came to the conclusion that I was going to have to do something so I went part-time. Now for you this might not be an option but see if you can get an extra day off during the week. Also, everyone is correct you are going to have to get your rest as if you worked days. I have 3 little boys and night shift is very hard to adjust to because your body was designed to sleep at night. You will not ever just totally adjust to the night shift but get your proper rest and exercise and try not to change your eating habits. Also keep preservering for that day shift job. Even though the nurses at your job have been there for years anything is possible. Talk to your supervisior and keep the faith and hold on because you could get days sooner than you think. I am going to keep you in my thoughts and prayers and I am going to pray that you get days real soon.
  12. by   altomga
    I have to agree that working night-shift is not for everyone. I work 12hr nights 7p-7a and love it. I have always been a night person even before I was a nurse. I actually get to see my kids more this way and for now it works out better for my family. I will of course switch to a day position, but only after I finish getting my BSN. There are us who like nights, so those like you don't have to. Speak with your manager; feeling sleep deprived and exhausted are increasing your chances of making a fatal mistake. At the minimum found sleeping on the job. Find a day position somewhere and GOOD LUCK!
  13. by   sjoe
    As you can see from the above posts, everyone is different. Some people's body clocks are set for night shift and they hate everything else (there are a couple of interesting books out about night shift people).

    Same goes for changing shifts. Some people (usually VERY young ones) like the variety, but most people find their sleep patterns, relationships, and health damaged by it. Myself, I like evening shift best, refuse midnight shifts (though before I was 25 I liked them), and will work day shifts only rarely and for short periods.

    Your body clock is telling you what you are like. Ignore it at your own cost, IMHO.
    Last edit by sjoe on Dec 30, '02
  14. by   Jenny P
    I just got off working about 14 years of nights-- first (full time) 12 hour nights, and for the past umteen years working an 8-12 night shift mix (12 hr. shifts only on weekends). I thouroughly enjoyed them, BUT in the past 2-3 years my health started to suffer. I've just started working a Baylor evening shift this past w/e, and hopefully this will work better for me. I work with many nurses who rotate day/night and find it both good for them and for their bodies. Most of these are younger people, though.

    To work nights and be successful with it, always sleep at the same time of day. Several of the long time night shifters that I work with stay up after work and do all of their normal life stuff during the AM after work; then go to bed (somewhere around 10 or 11A if they are 12 hr. shifters or around 2 or 3 P if they work 8 hr shifts). I was never able to do that-- I'd go to bed by 9A at the latest after my shifts; then get up around 4 or 5P and do the stuff that needed doing before I'd go to work (this is what lots of people do when working nights; but do try the other way of staying up after work and see if that helps).

    I do believe that many nurses do view the night shift as a way of "paying dues" for newbies; unfortunately hospitals are a 24/7, 365days/yr. work environment and unless you find a workplace with a group of people who ENJOY nights, you will be stuck working on them for at least a short period of time.

    I've been an RN for 34 years, I've worked as a staff nurseat least 3/4 time for most of those years, and I do believe that senior nurses should have perks when we've put in the time like that. Okay, I'm prejudiced, but back when I started there just weren't many older nurses at the bedside! They had either retired to raise families or moved up the ladder to be managers {and often battle axes if I remember right}.