Dear Nurse Beth,
I am a4th-semester nursing student due to graduate in December 2018. I have never worked night shifts in any job I've had. Soon I will begin precepting on night shift. How is it best to adjust to night shift and what are some things to avoid or helpful tips I should know? I worry that I may not be as alert on night shift and that this could compromise my nursing care.
Congrats on your upcoming graduation!
Just yesterday I met with a group of new grads who are dealing with working night shift. Blackout curtains for day sleepers are really helpful, because they trick you into thinking it's night time.
One nurse said she manages to sleep 8 hours by using blackout curtains and setting her phone to Do Not Disturb.
The first night on, taking a short nap is helpful. By hour second night, you are typically tired enough to sleep when you get off work.
Ironically, sometimes being worried about not being alert increases your adrenalin while on duty and keeps you alert. Once you get home, though, you may experience some mental fogginess.
How easily you adapt to working nights is individual. For some of us, it's hard to sleep during the day even when we're tired. Others, self-described night owls, love sleeping during the day and never needing an alarm clock.
The real benefit to working nights is the pace and the opportunity to learn. There are fewer interruptions- no scheduled tests and surgeries- fewer visitors, and a calmer environment. You have time to read the H&P and research the labs. Night shift differential is a plus as well!
Some people fall in love with night shift for good reason.
Let's hear what the pro night shifters have to say
Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!