New Grad working 7p to 7a


I know this has been discussed before but I need to ask again. I guess I need my own reassurance. So how do you guys do it? What time do you go to sleep and wake up? Do you take breaks And what time do you actually leave? I'm so worried that I won't be able to stay up. Do you just have a lot of coffee and snacks? I'm not even sure at what time I should be eating! Another thing is One of my kids will be getting home from school around 330 but my other is only 2 and will be here with my husband. I know she will not understand that I need sleep. Also if he needs to work he leaves at noon and then what am I supposed to do? Maybe I should put her in daycare? I was thinking to tell my husband not to work the next day after I get home and that might be ok since he freelances. If we both work the same day that might work because we would only need a babysitter from 6pm for me to go and stay with them until he gets back. Any other tips for me? How do you guys do it with kids??? Thanks in advance! And I'm sorry if I don't make a lot of sense I have my 2 year old on top of me right now! Lol.


65 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care (SICU/Trauma). Has 2 years experience.

Well, when I did nightshift, I would come home from work around 0730, and be showered and in the sack by 0800. I usually slept til 1400 or so (I don't sleep well during the day). I'd eat breakfast then. I generally ate dinner with my significant other around 1700 and would shower and leave for work around 1830. I tried hard not to eat on nightshift...but generally if I ate around 2300 I'd feel alright for the rest of the night. I never got used to nightshift, it's just unnatural for my body.

Specializes in LTC. Has 6 years experience.

Some other tips is to close the blinds in your room and wear eye cover over your eyes to block out any sunlight.

Turn off your phone if you can.

It is hard, I have done it a few times but never could get used to it.


231 Posts

Has 6 years experience.

New grad as well, so I dont have that much experience on nights. Nonetheless, I was super nervous to start them as well. I had never done a night shift before, and I would consider myself a morning person.

The day before the first shift, I 'rested' as much as possible - not really sleep. I forced myself to sleep every now and then, but never actually did. Then I got to work and I was super surprised how fast time went by. It was 0100 before I realized. THe hardest part for me is actually not having enough work to keep me busy. From about 2-4ish, some nights I dont have a single thing to do - including documentation. That's where I take time to look at the patients chart, take a break, make sure the room is nice and tidy for when doc's make the rounds at 0500.

Then I get home around 8-815. I usually dont realize how tired I am until the ride home. Luckily I only live about 10 minutes from work with no highways. I get straight home, shower if I feel like it, and hit the hay. I'm usually asleep/resting in bed (bc i force myself to stay in bed and try to fall back asleep by reading or something) until 2pm. But I have to say, I've NEVER gotten quality sleep during the day. It just doesnt seem to happen. So yes, I'm sleeping for 6 hours, but I'll wake up, toss and turn, etc. I do all the tricks, dark curtains, eye mask, etc. Regardless of the lack of quality sleep, I really seem to do ok at work. The only time I realize how late it is and how tired I am is when I'm really bored. Even if I have to do those good ol' hourly pt. safety checks, it still gives me something to do.

Eating habbits - I sometime eat before I go to sleep in the morning, sometimes not (whatever I feel like), then always eat a decent sized meal when I get up, and then sometime smaller before work. I usually bring little things to work to munch on, like grapes, carrots/humus, yogurt. I never bring anything with a lot of fat/calories. Sometimes I dont munch at all - just depends what I'm in the mood for. And your body will tell you. One thing I've noticed - I drink A TON of water at work on nights. I dont really know why, but I'm constantly thirsty. Also, I never drank coffee before nights, and thus far, havent either.

I think the key here is that we all seem to do the same thing, but on a variation of our own. I do whatever my body feels like doing. If I'm hungry before I sleep, I'll eat, if I'm not, I wont. Your body will tell you what it wants to do.

The one key thing I'm missing in my routine is exercise. I havent found the best way to incorporate that yet. I'm too tired in the morning, so I think the best time is either after I wake up in the afternoon or only on my days off.

Also I noticed that after I've worked 2 or 3 in a row (I work 12hr shifts), I will try to stay up as late as possible on my last day, and only take a nap - max 3 hrs. Then come night time when I dont have to work, my body is pretty tired due to the lack of quality sleep I've been getting, and I sleep like a baby during normal sleep hours.

Good luck, it will take time, but nights are really great! The patients are asleep (for the most part), so they dont bother you that much - some nights my biggest concern is that I feel bad waking people up. Plus, no docs constantly putting in new orders or families nagging you!

xtxrn, ASN, RN

4,266 Posts

Having a lot to do will help keep you awake. :) And your body will eventually get used to it. On my nights off, I still stayed up (nobody I had to take care of). With all of the 24/7 stores open, I did my errands then - nice and quiet in Wallyworld at 2 am- all of the screaming kids are home in bed (well, most... :().

No kids but the biggest thing for me was to protect the time for me to sleep. I had problems with DH at first wanting to talk as he was getting up and going to work while I was sleeping. So maybe daycare while you're sleeping wouldn't be a bad thing?

I try to eat "lunch" a little after midshift to help break up the time. I eat "breakfast" before going in to work and try to go straight to bed when I get home so I don't get a second wind and have trouble sleeping. I don't drink a ton of coffee during the shift but do tank up on my way in to work. On days off I try to stay on a similar schedule, staying up late and sleeping in.

It was a really hard adjustment at first, but once I got used to sleeping during the day (eye masks and white noise help, as do discussions with DH about how he can't talk to me in the middle of my night) it hasn't been too bad.

Specializes in FNP. Has 25 years experience.

Sounds like you have a lot of options and flexibility. I think you just need to jump into it and see how you do. It will be easier to identify what is and is not problem once you get a rhythm going. My only advice from the outset is stay away from junk food and keep up your exercise routine. Disturbing the circadian rhythm causes enough havoc without compounding the issues with processed foods and lethargy!

Has 12 years experience.

I am a morning girl but started out as a night nurse so I was worried. What I found works for me.

I don't do back to back work days I do every other day. On the day that I am working I try to rest for 30-45 min during the afternoon but not necessarily sleep. I make and eat a tiny dinner with my family before I leave for work(7p-7a). I take snacks with me too cause I am an eater. I drink 1-2 cups of coffee around midnight but no later than 2am so that I can sleep when I get home. I take my break around 3-4am and eat "dinner". Usually I get off around 7:30am and go right to bed when I get home. I don't have a problem sleeping but I do have black-out drapes on my windows.

If I don't have to return to work that night, which I tend to not because I don't like back-to-back shifts, I will sleep for 4-5hrs. This is enough sleep for me to be functional for my kids, get to a bus stop and pick them up but still be able to go to bed with my hubby that night at a regular time.

During the summer months I sleep LOTS less since my kids are home(they are not as little as yours are) but during the school year it's easier. To make you feel better, I know a few night nurses who have little kids and sleep very little so that they don't have to put their kids in daycare. They tend to not do back-to-back shifts either since its hard to function two nights in a row on little sleep.

I forgot!!! I exercise at our gym at the hospital on my break too. It gets the blood flowing AND I never order out food which is something most of the other night nurses do.


825 Posts

I work nights as an extern and clinicals during the day so I'm a shift changer.

What I do: The day before I begin my night shift, I wake up really early (around 0500) so that I'm tired enough in the afternoon to get some sleep. I have a small child too so he is either going to Grandma's house in the afternoon or he is taking a nap with me. I go to sleep around 1230 and sleep until about 1500, at which time I wake up and get ready to go to work (I drive about 2 hours each way).

Then I come home in the morning, take a shower and in bed by 0930 (drive time). I sleep until about 1400.

I also drink a lot of water on my shift. I don't do coffee but occasionally will drink some hot chocolate. I never eat carbs...they make me crash.

A couple of co-workers will clock out for their break, grab a pillow and blanket and sleep in the conference room. If power naps work for you, that's a great thing to do.

I'm so busy on nights that I'm running around like a crazy person. If I have a night where it's not so busy, I will find something to do that requires standing/walking.

Lastly, it's changing back to days that I am having the greatest issue with. My body is ready for a nap around 1230 and then at night, I don't get tired until around 0200. This is not going to be a good thing when school starts in a couple of weeks!


231 Posts

Has 6 years experience.

I agree with Cbsmommy, my body actually adapted to nights quicker than I expected and its harder to switch back to daylight hours sometimes. I tend to go to bed 1-2am and wake up around 11am on days off - What the teenager version of myself would give for those hours since I was always a morning person then.


7 Posts

When I started HS 12 hour shift, I was told to keep day sleep, awake all night schedule. Recently, I found out that no HS crew does that. They take a nap before the 1st night, then do three shift in row then when they are done, they take another nap, and back to normal sleep awake cycle. I disliked being awake when nothing is open except walmart and 24 hour grocery store :down:

gonzo1, ASN, RN

1,739 Posts

Specializes in ED, ICU, PSYCH, PP, CEN. Has 20 years experience.

I have done mostly nights. On my first day back I nap from 1pm to 430pm, eat good dinner, go to work. Eat nice snack 1ish am, get off 7 am drive home eat light breakfast, go to bed and sleep 9-430.

I make my room really dark. Have some white noise going. and usually don't have too much trouble. My phone is on silent, or given t my work at home hubby. There is a note on door, day sleeper, and I give my schedule to all my close friends so they leave me alone at the right times. I am definitely a day worker, but nights can be okay till somethilng better crops up. I also do some vitamins and OTC drugs to help sleep, but those are not to be discussed in public forums