Got into a car accident after working a night shift

  1. My worse fear has come true. I recently got into a car accident after working a night shift. Thank God, the accident only involved myself, and I did not get hurt. However, it has really shaken me up and I'm petrified of having to drive from work after doing nights. The scary thing is that, I didn't feel myself getting sleepy or anything, it just happened so fast. I didn't even close my eyes. All the "what ifs", keeps playing through my mind. It would have been a nightmare if I caused death of a family or myself due to my inability to stay alert while driving home.

    I'm in a tough predicament. I just started this full time nights position and I'm afraid to switch my schedule or ask to go to another unit that has a day shift avail. I've only been on the job for 2 weeks. Right now, I'm so petrified of driving after a night shift. I've tried cool air and loud music before and it does not help. My husband cannot take me to work and pick me up so that isn't an option.

    I sometimes call my husband on the way home as a safety line, but he drifts off to sleep which is no help. I also don't drink coffee. I'm at a lost.

    For those of you who have ever experienced this, how did you move forward? Did you quit nights all together? Find a closer job? Or did you continue to drive home but use different strategies?
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    About BSNbeauty, BSN, RN

    Joined: Jan '13; Posts: 1,975; Likes: 4,308


  3. by   traumaRUs
    So scary for you! I worked nights for 15 years and while I didnt have an accident I did drive off the road into a cornfield once. Youve only been on nights 2 weeks - it really takes six months to get used to nights. Things that you are doing sound to me to be right: opening the windows, loud music, safety net of calling husband. How long is your commute? I drove about 30 minutes home after nightshift. Would have been easier if we lived closer but it was what it was. Do you have to go right home after work? Can you take a nap in your car first? Are you getting enough sleep during the day? No interruptions?
  4. by   beeker
    I have been struggling with nightshift lately. As the previous poster commented, it does take a good 6 months or so to get used to nights. But now that I am pregnant I am SO TIRED! I normally have to nap in my car before I drive home which I never had to do before. Its awful. I have had times where I felt ok to drive only to have to pull over at a gas station and take a nap for fear of falling asleep while driving. Safety first! If you need to nap, you need to nap. But 2 weeks is not enough time to know for sure if you CAN adjust to nights. Some people can, some people can't. But we all felt awful 2 weeks in! I felt that way for awhile. I did get used to it, and now my body is fighting it pretty hard.
  5. by   netglow
    Well that sucks. For your own safety try what the above posters have suggested, and also I will add... you need to attempt to keep yourself awake, why have you not tried caffeine? It's not about liking it or not ...
  6. by   RainMom
    Never had an accident, but early on after starting nights, I felt like I was about to fall asleep at any moment when driving home (30 min drive). What usually helped me more than anything was to grab something to eat/drink on the way home. Seemed like as long as I was stuffing my face, I didn't have much trouble staying awake! I also tend to turn the radio up & sing along. My body has adapted now after working this shift for more than a year & though tired, I don't feel so exhausted that I might fall asleep driving (usually).
  7. by   kguill975
    I keep sunflower seeds in my car, because as long as I have a task to focus on, I can stay awake. Sadly, I use food to stay awake at work too.
  8. by   BSNbeauty
    I've done nights before, part time but stopped nights all together because I could not adjust. I've taken a full time nights because it is the only choice I have at this time.

    I don't try caffeine because when I did in the past, I had a hard time falling asleep for work. I've come to the conclusion, I'm not a night shift gal. I'll do it right now because I don't have an option. If I do have an opportunity for a day shift I'll take it.
    Safety first.
  9. by   Biffbradford
    After 12 hours and a 45 min drive home, I've stopped at the grocery store, sun full in my face, and fallen asleep for a hour and a half. Manager wonders why I don't go to the 2 hour staff meetings before work. Is she NUTS?
  10. by   iluvivt
    In the meantime always chew gum and play something annoying to you on the radio( nothing soothing) or roll down the window and let the air hit your face. You have to find what works for you for now. If you must take a nap in your car before you drive home. I used to drive my daughter to school then drive to the parking structure.... find a nice parking place...lean my seat pack....tuck a travel pillow under my head...pull my jacket over me..set my alarm and rest or take a nap until my shift started.

    Have you considered a cup of tea an hour or two before your shift ends to give you a little boost..enough to keep you alert but not enough to prevent sleep when you get home.
  11. by   madwife2002
    Chew Gum I heard it keeps you awake-sing loudly whilst chewing
  12. by   edmia
    How is your daytime sleeping going? If you can't get a good night's sleep during the day, nothing will keep you awake. You have to get room darkening shades, ear plugs, and eye mask and GO TO SLEEP when you get home. For at least 6 hours.
    There's no other way to adjust to night shift, you have to make your body understand that the rules have changed.
    Good luck and I'm glad you didn't get hurt.

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  13. by   bagladyrn
    I have found that when I feel sleepy sipping a large orange juice on the drive home helps to keep me more alert - and unlike caffeine the effect goes away fairly quickly after you finish it. If you notice you are getting sleepy as you drive try pulling over off the road, get out and walk around swinging your arms and deep breathing - this works for a short distance. If that doesn't help pull over in a safe place and take a quick nap. (Set your phone to wake you up or you may find yourself still there at noon)
  14. by   MomRN0913
    Power naps. I would doze off on my 45 min trip home. I would usually stop once at Starbucks, take a 15-20 min power nap and grab a coffee. If I was really tired, I'd stop again and nap. It's a pain, but I didn't want to have an accident.I also chewed sunflower seeds. Messy, yes. But it kept me awake.Good luck and stay safe.