Taking a sleep aid when on call?

  1. I'm wondering what you all think about taking sleep aids when on call. I'm not talking about call where you might have to actually go in to work, but call for outpatient care where you have to manage patient complaints overnight, possibly call the doctor/pharmacy, and possibly refer to the ED.


    What do you think?
    Last edit by dianah on Nov 18
  2. Visit boquiabierta profile page

    About boquiabierta, BSN, RN

    Joined: Apr '16; Posts: 66; Likes: 163

    41 Comments

  3. by   Accolay
    I think that's a bad idea, but that's just my two cents. You're still going to be giving professional judgement to someone on the phone. Will the sleep aid impair that judgement?

    Your mileage may vary.
  4. by   boquiabierta
    My judgment was that the sleep aid would not impair my ability to give professional judgment over the phone -- certainly not more than the ongoing sleep deprivation would have.

    Any suggestions for how to deal with call without becoming an anxiety-ridden sleep-deprived zombie if I shouldn't take sleep aids?
  5. by   Accolay
    Give me more. What's your schedule? Do you work a day shift, then are on-call all night long? Is it everynight? Is it only a couple nights? Are the nights grouped together?

    Attempting to use your brain sleep deprived and/or with sleepy time pills is not the best.
  6. by   boquiabierta
    I work a full-time schedule that is mostly business hours though often they become 10-12 hour shifts because we are just open as long as we have patients. When on call I work the days and then am on-call all night and weekend, for a full week at a time.
  7. by   KelRN215
    This is an MD's office where they have nurses take the on-call?

    I have had 2 jobs where I had to rotate on-call. In my experience, people rarely call in the middle of the night and when they do, it's either something completely stupid or something they should be calling 911 about.
  8. by   boquiabierta
    Outpatient ambulatory surgery. We get a lot of calls.
    Last edit by dianah on Nov 19
  9. by   Horseshoe
    I wouldn't do it. If taking call is causing you so much anxiety that you either need to take sleeping pills or function with a severely sleep deprived brain, perhaps this job is not a good fit for you.
  10. by   CharleeFoxtrot
    Quote from Horseshoe
    I wouldn't do it. If taking call is causing you so much anxiety that you either need to take sleeping pills or function with a severely sleep deprived brain, perhaps this job is not a good fit for you.
    This exactly.
  11. by   boquiabierta
    I'm not talking about something like Ambien, btw. I'm talking about Benadryl or doxylamine, a low dose of a med I am used to where I am confident I would still wake up and my clinical judgment would not be impaired. Are we not allowed to take NyQuil if we have a cold while on call?

    The job is a great fit for me; it's call that's not a good fit, and I'd hate to give up the job just because of a call requirement every 6 weeks or so. Did I mention it's my first time? No one wants to try to reassure me that maybe I'll get used to it or suggest any non-pharmacological coping strategies?
  12. by   CalicoKitty
    Quote from boquiabierta
    I'm not talking about something like Ambien, btw. I'm talking about Benadryl or doxylamine, a low dose of a med I am used to where I am confident I would still wake up and my clinical judgment would not be impaired. Are we not allowed to take NyQuil if we have a cold while on call?

    The job is a great fit for me; it's call that's not a good fit, and I'd hate to give up the job just because of a call requirement every 6 weeks or so. Did I mention it's my first time? No one wants to try to reassure me that maybe I'll get used to it or suggest any non-pharmacological coping strategies?
    I think most of the repliers are saying they feel their own judgement would be impaired if they took a sleep aid, including benadryl. So, when you ask their opinion, they're giving it. I get super groggy with benadryl, I usually won't even take it if I work the next day. If you don't feel your'e affected by the medication, then go with your own gut. We give benadryl to our patients so they sleep through the night, I know when I wake my patients up for vital signs at 4am, it is like waking the dead and don't expect any conversation.
  13. by   Daisy4RN
    Quote from CalicoKitty
    I think most of the repliers are saying they feel their own judgement would be impaired if they took a sleep aid, including benadryl. So, when you ask their opinion, they're giving it. I get super groggy with benadryl, I usually won't even take it if I work the next day. If you don't feel your'e affected by the medication, then go with your own gut. We give benadryl to our patients so they sleep through the night, I know when I wake my patients up for vital signs at 4am, it is like waking the dead and don't expect any conversation.
    I would agree with this, you need to know your own body and be willing to take the chance that something could possibly go wrong. You will be on call, so what if someone calls and you give poor advice because you are groggy. If you know your body's reaction to a certain medication then go ahead and take it if you feel comfortable knowing you will fully wake up. If you cannot say for certain that you would fully wake up then I would find alternative coping strategies (meditation, yoga, turning off the electronic a few hours prior to bedtime, caffeine free tea, hot bath, hot milk etc.), you need to find what works for you personally. I would give it some time because you are new and the stress level will probably decrease with time. Good luck!
  14. by   cleback
    Quote from Daisy4RN
    I would agree with this, you need to know your own body and be willing to take the chance that something could possibly go wrong. You will be on call, so what if someone calls and you give poor advice because you are groggy. If you know your body's reaction to a certain medication then go ahead and take it if you feel comfortable knowing you will fully wake up. If you cannot say for certain that you would fully wake up then I would find alternative coping strategies (meditation, yoga, turning off the electronic a few hours prior to bedtime, caffeine free tea, hot bath, hot milk etc.), you need to find what works for you personally. I would give it some time because you are new and the stress level will probably decrease with time. Good luck!
    Yeah this. I know that melatonin will help me get to sleep but I can wake up from it no problem. However, if I take benadryl or unisom, that's when I get groggy and start doubting or forgetting night events (dog waking me up, conversations with the husband). So it's tricky. I'd really exhaust the nonpharm interventions first.

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