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need nightshift sleep/health tips

Posted

Specializes in Med surg, psych. Has 4 years experience.

Hi Everyone! I am a long term lurker on Allurses but this is my first time posting so please move this if it's not in the right spot. I have been a nurse for 3 years but this is my first time working nightshift (7p - 7a) as I worked 3 to 11 when I worked psych and LTC. Does anyone have tips on how to stay healthy working nights? My biggest challenge currently is sleep as last night actually this morning I was only able to sleep 4 hours. I was thinking about getting blackout shades but I live in an apartment so I need some that will work with my current shades. I am trying to stay as healthy physically and mentally as possible since I have a personal hx of depression and a family hx of cancer, CVD, DM, obesity. Also if anyone has tips on how to have a social life as well I know COVID makes it a challenge in addition to working off hours. I am noticig that even after one night of working that my mental health is worse than normal.

speedynurse, ADN, RN, EMT-P

Specializes in ER, Pre-Op, PACU.

Night shift is hard....really hard....or it was for me.  I have probably done nights for 5 years total with different jobs added up. This is the last time I will do night shift. I found a blackout mask, noise machine, fan.....and Benadryl and melatonin....or I would just stay awake for maybe 3 to 4 days/nights at a time without it.  A lot of people stay on night shift schedule. I can’t because of circumstances in my life but it is better for the circadian rhythm if you can do that.

barcode120x, ADN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Telemetry. Has 6 years experience.

Very cool room temperature (I have the a/c on when I sleep during the day) then pile on some heavy blankets/comforters. As mentioned blackout curtains work well for me. Don't think I could ever sleep with an eye mask, I don't like things of my face. Some friends of mine take melatonin while others drink so "sleepy time" tea. I'd avoid any type of 1st generation anti-histamines (benadryl) because although they can aid with sleep, it can still cause a lingering drowsiness when you wake up. Can also try reading a bit before going to bed. You can even try eating a heavy breakfast to give you that food coma to help you sleep. On my first shift of the week, I always sleep late and wake up early in order to take a 2-3 hour nap before work. 

In terms of social life...can't really give advice on that, your life is yours and mine is mine, but sleep can affect it. Keep in mind that it's not easy for your body to adjust to nights so it could takes several weeks or months before you get used to it while others just can't and end up going to day shift when a spot opens up.

guineapignurse, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med surg, psych. Has 4 years experience.

On 9/4/2020 at 5:17 PM, speedynurse said:

Night shift is hard....really hard....or it was for me.  I have probably done nights for 5 years total with different jobs added up. This is the last time I will do night shift. I found a blackout mask, noise machine, fan.....and Benadryl and melatonin....or I would just stay awake for maybe 3 to 4 days/nights at a time without it.  A lot of people stay on night shift schedule. I can’t because of circumstances in my life but it is better for the circadian rhythm if you can do that.

I did one night 2 days ago and I was able to stay awake my sleep has been messed up since then as I am sleeping probably 12 hours a day when I’m not working . I have also noticed a rapid increase in my depression symptoms to the point I gave to get treatment for that. I’m going to give it a little more time while I look for a therapist to work with but if it doesn’t get better soon I will see if my employer will put me back on days like I was before. I have no life reason to do nights- no kids and I’m single. Plus my only pets are guinea pigs hence my user name. Also my facility doesn’t have shift differentials so no wonder they can’t get people to do nights LOL.

barcode120x, ADN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Telemetry. Has 6 years experience.

5 hours ago, guineapignurse said:

Also my facility doesn’t have shift differentials so no wonder they can’t get people to do nights LOL.

That's terrible...I would look elsewhere for sure haha

guineapignurse, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med surg, psych. Has 4 years experience.

Yes that is the plan. I will be looking even though COVID is happening 

amoLucia

Specializes in LTC.

Adjusting your sleep cycle to NOCs can take some significant time. Many night-shifters will tell you that is so true.

Prepare your sleep environment, hydrate & nourish your physical self, free up your mental-self before sleep time, ensure family/friends coop to avoid disturbing your sleep, TURN OFF YOUR CELL, etc.

There's been a zillion previous posts here with very good info. But whatever works for one, may not be the cure for another. Trial & error. You don't say how long you've been doing this late shift. So you may just need some time.

Just to ask, is this a NEW job or in a new facility? Could that be the real reason for your difficult adjustment rather that just the time switch itself?

I was a nite-shifter at heart. No problems with adjusting. Even when I switched jobs back & forth with diff shifts, I was OK.

I'm retired home-bound now and my body STILL likes nite-shift hours. Am having a h*ll of a time doing 'normal people hours'. 

Hope you get your ZZZs.

Nursing_excellence, ADN, BSN

Specializes in PCU, ICU, LTAC, LTC, SNF. Has 9 years experience.

I have been working night shift for 8 years now. Usually I work my 3 shifts fri sat sun. On Thursday night, I do meal prep including coffee to bring to work. I always go to bed at 10am and wake up 6pm. I try to keep this waking and sleeping schedule even on my days off. And it becomes easier to keep regular sleep pattern with this.

Leader25, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in NICU. Has 38 years experience.

On 9/4/2020 at 1:20 PM, guineapignurse said:

getting blackout shades but I live in an apartment so I need some that will work with my current shades. I am trying to stay as healthy physically and mentally as possible since I have a personal hx of depression and a family hx of cancer, CVD, DM, obesity. Also if anyone has tips on how to have a social life as well I know COVID makes it a challenge in addition to working off hours. I am noticig that even after one night of working that my mental health is worse than normal.

Having done rotating shifts,(the worst schedule),I picked brains to figure how to do nights.Almost felt I was going to need a straightjacket  at first.

On the days I am working,I stay home nap on and off,I do not go out,do get those black out curtains,just use a Spring tension rod and insert under your regular curtains,watch caffeine,last cup no later than 5 am,eat light at breakfast,leave tv on low for white noise or use a device, usually one more nap in evening,once everyone was all set at home. I was once told keep the jammies on all day ,it worked.On off days follow what makes you feel rested,go out but not too much,plan for rest day before return to shift.Feeling moody is par for the course,some do better than others,as some sleep better during the day and others have broken sleep.

caffeinatednurse, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-surg, telemetry, oncology, rehab, LTC, ALF. Has 5 years experience.

I've worked night shift for 4 years now. 

Buy a really nice fan. I like those Vornado fans - the medium sized ones that you can fit on a bedside table. Mine cost me about $60. The really nice part is that I can select the lowest setting when I just want some white noise or I can use it for legit room circulation to keep the room cooler, or to block out the noise of my neighbor mowing their lawn. I also have an AC in my room, which helps keep it cool and provides additional white noise.

Invest in some blackout curtains. I like navy because it matches my furnishings, but you can also pick brown, black or gray. Just as long as it's dark enough to trick your brain into thinking it's time to go to sleep. For me, that has to be pretty darn dark.

I also know several nurses who take sleeping meds - melatonin and trazedone seem to be popular. 

Be careful with your caffeine intake. I used to drink a TON of caffeine when I first started on nights. Though it may not feel like it when you're binging coffee at 4am to stave off the drowsiness, you can do some serious damage to your sleep. If you're going to drink caffeine, try to limit it to before 3am.

Eat when your body tells you to. I usually eat something around 4-5pm before work and then around 11pm-12am and then I have a protein shake around 5am. I eat a small breakfast before bed (8:30ish). Try not to worry about what you "should" be eating and just try to eat a balanced diet with some variety. Avoid the snack/vending machines - chocolate and chips won't carry you far on nights.

I switch back to a day shift schedule on my nights off. Usually this means going to bed early after my last shift and getting up early so I can go to bed at a normal-ish time. Most people that I work with who have families seem to do this as well.

Edited by caffeinatednurse

MLTBB20

Has 7 years experience.

Sleep 7 hours, run errands and workout, nap 1 hour then go to work. Power naps are key.

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 20 years experience.

A couple of things that helped me, in addition to my blackout curtains, fan, sleep mask and a comfortable bed, were baths and blankets. I'd run a tubful of warm, soothing water and soak for about 20 minutes (I did fall asleep in there on occasion and found myself snorfling water up my nose). The other was to put my blankets in the dryer and get 'em all nice and warm, then wrap them around me and go promptly to sleep. Worked very well and I got quality sleep, which was desperately needed on my nights on. 

Actually, I loved working nights, but they stopped loving me after I hit 40. I would ask a patient to tell me the date, and I wouldn't know it myself. I had trouble with short-term memory, too, which could have been costly in terms of my career. Then I went on vacation, during which I was on a daytime schedule, and I figured out really quick that it was the shift, and not brain-fade, that was messing with me. So I switched to days, regretfully because I'd really loved nights, but it was much better for my mental health.