Night shift syndrome

  1. Is there a such thing as "night shift syndrome"? I just started working 12 hour nights in July after working 12 hour days for about 6 months. I decided to go to nights because in my current position, the environment was chaotic, stressful, without any resources for help. I basically felt like I was not providing the quality of care that I wanted to provide. At first I felt awake and refreshed, but as the months have gone on I have been feeling increasingly fatigued, sore, and hazy. I sometimes can sleep 12-14 hours after a shift or two and still feel tired. Before you ask, I am not looking for medical advice or anything, I am just curious on what other night shift nurses do to stay a float with this unusual schedule and not feel so fatigued all the time? I am just wondering if any other night shifters out there have experienced this and if so, what did they do to correct it? The weight of the fatigue is making me want to go back to days, but unfortunately at the hospital I currently work at there are no 12 hour day positions or even 8 hours that I can bid on right not and returning to 12's on my floor would not be my cup of tea, but if needed I could do it. So I am exploring my options at other facilities as well. But in the mean time, does anyone have any suggestions?
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    About SweetsRN522

    Joined: Dec '11; Posts: 34; Likes: 30
    RN-BSN: Staff RN; from US
    Specialty: Med/Surg


  3. by   Lovely_RN
    I suspect there might be something to what you're writing about. Since I went to nights a few months ago I have the same issues with fatigue. It seems like I can never get enough sleep on my days off and I'm always exhausted. I've also been suffering from headaches and mood swings. I just feel really off and I've been getting sick often. I've went from 1-2 colds per year to 1 per month...fighting another URI right now. I was told by my co-workers that it took them 6-12months to adjust but they never feel 100% fine. Most of them just tell me to expect to need 1-2 days, especially after working 3 in a row, to recover and feel somewhat normal. It also helps to keep on a night schedule during days off but it feels weird to always be opposite from the rest of the world.
  4. by   wsuRN09
    It may not be for everybody, but running a couple miles 4x/wk has helped me feel almost normal again. Plus I completely cut out caffeine which helps me sleep better in addition to the black out curtains and earplugs lol. You just have to try things and find what works for you. Hopefully you will or find a day shift
  5. by   Palliative Care, DNP
    I have had the same experience since working night shift. Tired all of the time no matter how much sleep I have. Beginning graduate school this year and I'm not going to work. I am really looking forward to having a normal sleep pattern again. I don't think I will ever work nights again.
  6. by   mosaicism105
    I stopped taking some energy drink and tone down the coffee (coffee is my water) as well. Cause I observed that I get more hours of sleep when I did that. I was a shift floater/ NPS (No Permanent Shift) for a few months and getting a good rest is impossible to never. I felt like i'm floating when I walk and sometimes go to work with only 2 hours of sleep. And as much as possible try not to take antihistamines too.
  7. by   SweetsRN522
    I am in the process of getting blackout curtains. I never thought of ear plugs, but during the day it is usually pretty quiet here. I do drink coffee and tea beverages at work, but I try to stop around 3am, and drink more h20. Exercise is definitely a factor for me I just bought an eliptical and after I fight off this nasty respiratory infection I plan to start using it. Anyone ever try sleeping masks? If so do they work? What about white noise(sleeping machines)? I have taken benadryl before bed and it makes me feel groggy for longer, but it helps me get to sleep quicker. All great suggestions. I would like to keep working nights for the financial and stress purposes. (nights is relaxing and you can actually interact with your patients on my floor), but days is better on your body. I will take your suggestions and try implementing some of them into my routine. I work tonight so we will see. As far as sleeping patterns go, do you guys usually go home and sleep until your next shift, or do you stagger your sleep? I have heard it done both ways.
  8. by   nightengalegoddess
    If I work more than three days a week on night shift I have problems and can't revert back to day living very easily. So I only overtime once or twice a month at the most. Excercise and vitamins help a lot. There are those who can and those who can't. if you are a can't, just keep seeking the day shift and be assertive about it. Get a doctor's note if you need to.....just not a note that will show signs of impairment to practice or anything. Just an ASAP kind of note.
  9. by   NoviceRN10
    I have worked night shift for almost a year and a half. I always feel tired and crabby, no matter how many days off I have in a row. I was working 12s but then switched to 8s and it isn't any different. I may as well be there the full 12 hrs. I have been off the last 9 nights and I still feel like crud and it took me that long to get on the same sleeping schedule as my family. What I usually do is get home at 8 am, get my kids on the bus, then change my clothes, eat something and veg watching tv or whatever for about an hr to unwind. I then try to sleep till 3-3:30. I have a dark sheet over my window, I turn down the thermostat to 64 and I turn on the ceiling fan above my bed for white noise. If I take benadryl I will sleep longer/better but I do feel groggy when I wake up. The most I have ever slept after a shift was 7 hrs straight. I know I should exercise but I have no energy. I am staring at my eliptical right now . I think working the night shift is depressing, I don't know how people manage and actually like it. I mean, I like the pace of the shift and have no trouble being at the hospital, but the rest of my life is suffering. Maybe it's because I have young kids, a husband and house to worry about too? I can't see working this shift forever.
  10. by   21strawberry
    [font=times]i have a sound machine, a sleep mask and room-darkening shades for when i'm on my night shift rotation. my unit switches us from days to nights every 3 weeks, 12 hour shifts. i think the quality of your sleep is important as well as cutting out the caffeine that you mentioned. the sleep mask is nice and the sound machine is great, especially with dogs and a one-year old playing downstairs!
  11. by   Esme12
    You have to be very protective of your sleep. Darkening shades....I actually used velcro around my windows with black shades to remove ALL light. White noise is a must. Even if it does not blow on you a fan in the room will drown out as much noise as possible. SHT OFF YOUR PHONES. If I even heard a ring I was up. I had a cell phone for emergencies for school and my Mom and shut off the house did NOT have this number.

    I placed a sign on my door that to ring the bell was taking one's safety into one's hands that I did not wake up pleasant and owned a large dog. I had a very helpful husband who assisted in protecting my sleep (most of the time) and when my kids slept...I slept. The dirt on the kitchen floor will be there when I get up and my family will be glad I slept.

    I would make, or but, simple heat and eat foods for the nights I worked. I also would try to keep similar hours on off days and became a night owl. I stoppped feeling guilty about the days I felt like sleeping or napping when I was tired. You may also want to visit your PCP....get a good physical and be sure you are ok. There are some meds out there for shift work sleep disorder (Shift work sleep disorder - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) that can really help.

    I worked nights for a LONG time. When my kids were small I was always there and I paid no childcare. When they were in elementary school I was there for every party and field trip. As teenagers....I know where they are all summer long as there was an adult (my husband or I) home to be sure they keep their noses clean. I am tired sure...but it's been worth the effort. Good luck
  12. by   heartnursing
    If you YouTube "nurse britt" I believe she has a online blog and has a video that talks about this
  13. by   caliotter3
    I have worked night shift for years in more than one line of work. Actually I prefer nights. But to answer your question about a syndrome, after many, many years on night shift, I have to say from experience, that there is a syndrome. I have definitely noticed it over the years. It does take its toll on a person. You can miss so much of life because you are constantly fatigued and sleeping all the time, never able to reach 'normal'.
  14. by   joanna73
    I work permanent nights and I like it. I stay on a night schedule even on my off days 95 percent of the time. You will be more tired if you switch to days on your days off.I also use blackout curtains, earplugs, and my phone is on silent anytime I want to sleep or nap. No calls are more important than sleep.I exercise at least 3 days a week, take 2000 units of vitamin D, and eat healthy meals. If you want to make nights work, all of these elements need to be in place. Melatonin also helps your circadian rhythm.