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Night shift


Has <1 years experience.

New RN grad herešŸ˜ I have been offered a job at a hospital and its the night shift. I'm an LPN currently, so I'm use to 12 hour shifts but I work days. I have never worked nights before, so any tips?

Thank you!

LibraNurse27, BSN, RN

Specializes in Community Health, Med/Surg, ICU Stepdown. Has 8 years experience.

I have never worked full time nights, but I've worked stretches of nights for maybe 6 weeks at a time, so my advice is not as valuable as that of a lifelong full time night shifter! What worked for me was to stay on the night shift schedule as much as possible. Maybe not staying up ALL night on your nights off, but still going to bed late and sleeping late. If that's not possible, try to stack your shifts if they let you. I would work 6 nights in a row, then be off for 8 days and be on a more normal schedule. 6 nights in a row is not fun though!

For the nights you work, try to get sleep before you go in, don't be up all day and then all night! Bring healthy, light snacks/meals. Drink lots of water. Don't drink too much coffee, but if you need some that is OK. No energy drinks! Starting an IV with jitters and shaky hands = sure miss! Staying up all night is not natural, and around 3 am I always felt acid reflux since the body is supposed to "rest and digest" at night. Meds for this might help if you experience it. If you have trouble sleeping in the day, get some black out curtains, white noise machine, earplugs, face mask, whatever works! Try taking melatonin, if that doesn't work you could take heavier sleep meds, but be careful! Don't want to go to work drowsy or become dependent. Try to generally eat healthy and get some exercise as night shift is hard on the body. Make sure friends and family don't think they can bother you when you're sleeping! I've seen some people do it for 40 years and love it though! Good luck!

Try to develop a pattern for your daytime sleep. I found that I would sleep two to four hours in the morning right after getting off work, wake up and do some day stuff for awhile, then try to sleep right before getting ready for work, anywhere from three to five hours, depending.

kkbb, BSN, RN

Specializes in Oncology. Has 4 years experience.

I've been on nights for 3 years. I do have school aged kids, so when I'm off I live like a normal human. As much as I don't like to, I always work 3 in a row...that way I only go into shift once and then out of shift one a week (which helps).

The night before shift I go to bed at a normal time. I wake up early and do errands or go to the gym. I take a nap (2-4 hours) and then get ready for work.

Sleeping in-between shifts requires blackout curtains, fan on, and TV turned low enough that I don't really hear it, but it blocks out day noise. I also take melatonin once I get home. When I get home I do light straightening around the house if needed. Mainly just cleaning the kitchen. I wake up around 4-5, shower, pack lunch and then drink my coffee on my way in.

Before my last shift I order groceries online for pick up on my way home that last morning. Once I get home I throw a load of laundry in the wash, take a shower, and take a nap once laundry is in the dryer. I usually wake up around 1, so that I can then sleep normally that night.

I have noticed that some couples fight about cleaning when the night shifter is working. That was how I came up with my clean between shifts tactic...nothing major, maybe 15 minutes. Just make it obvious that you were there and helped around the house. šŸ™‚ Ordering groceries for pick up has been a lifesaver!! I take my time and actually order what I need. Because coming off shift is technically a day off I want to accomplish something, but never really have the mental ability to do anything major, which is why I keep it basic and stick to laundry and grocery pick up.

Nurse SMS, MSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development. Has 10 years experience.

I got blackout drapes and good sleep masks. I treated my days exactly how I used to treat my nights. I came home, ate dinner with a glass of wine, watched trash TV or read until around 10. Had my wind-down routine, shower, skin care, brush teeth, whatever, made sure the room was dark and cool, changed into PJs. Snuggled in. Frequently used melatonin or other sleep aids OTC. Biggest barrier was my cat, who was so excited that I was in bed in the middle of the day she would tromp all over me purring. I kept the same schedule on my days off as I did on my work days, because going back and forth threw me into PVCs.

Congratulations on your new job!


Specializes in Oncology, ID, Hepatology, Occy Health. Has 35 years experience.

11 years on nights - love it!

I echo many of the tips above but I would say try to live a normal day pattern on your nights off or you risk inversing your cycle altogether.

My first night I have an afternoon nap before going on. When I come off I set my alarm for lunchtime, get up and live a normal day so that I sleep that night.

Busy nights are OK because the momentum keeps you going. Quiet nights are harder. Try not to turn lights down too low in the nurses office or wherever you sit if it's quiet. If you feel too sleepy, move about. Always have a good book or something to occupy you for a quiet night. Surfing the net can be good since screen light keeps you awake. Coffee at the beginning of the night but avoid it after about 4 am.

I take melatonin to sleep in the day and find it works for me. Blackout curtains and no screen light in the bedroom. I'm fortunate as it's quiet where I live but use ear plugs if noise is a problem. Phone turned off! Nothing wrong with a glass of wine in the morning to wind down - it's your evening; it doesn't make you an alcoholic!!

If your hospital allows it try to do as many nights in a row as possible to get the maximum nights off subsequently. The less frequently you swittch from day to night mode and vice versa the better.

Do look after your health. Eat properly, take excercise, make sure you get your occupational health follow-up. Night work is not normal.

I think night nursing is a speciality in itself. You're more autonomous and patients are often more scared at night when the visitors have gone and they're alone with their anxieties. Helping promote sleep is an art, as is finding that balance between when you need to disturb them and when you can let them sleep on. Learning to creep about silently with your little torch to check pumps etc. is another great skill.

Good luck in your new job!

That's exciting! Congratulations on the new position.

Making the transition to nights can be tough. However, with persistence it does become easier. I think that this blog post might have some helpful tips for you: https://premiermedstaffing.com/blog/night-shift-nursing-tips/