Help! need tips for adjusting to night shift - page 2

I'm a new grad whom recently -4 weeks-started a position on a med-surg floor on the 11-7am shift. I love the unit routine and the most of the people I work with (I orientated on days, and find nights... Read More

  1. by   katrosmar
    The problem of working night shift must be one of the most talked about things at the hospital where i work.. It is terrible for those nurses that have trouble sleeping during the day. (would'nt it be good if we could just work those shifts that suit our lifestyles etc.) I am about to change my place of work so i can just work night shift... i know this would sound crazy to a lot of people, but i find it as hard to adjust to rotating from am. to pm. shifts and then to take my "turn" on night shift.. i suppose i am one of those strange night creatures, but i really do like working at night. The tips that others have offered i'm sure would help you, one of the things that i find helpful is to have a fan on in the bedroom.. if the room is cool and i have to get under the covers and "snuggle in", seems to make it easier to sleep. The background noise this creates also helps. I hope that you manage to sort out your sleep problem, but if you can't, i agree with all those wise people who suggested that you stop.. its not worth your health and or relationships to struggle with it.
  2. by   emphysemeJack
    im sorry i dont have any advice to offer though i do like nytshift now than before...all i can say is Welcome to the Nursing Profession!!!
  3. by   Cobweb
    I also use a fan; the white noise it makes is very helpful.

    Black out your bedroom.

    I find that night shifters have 2 major plans they follow: a 3-4 hour nap after work, and a 3-4 hour nap right before work, OR, like myself, they stay up til noon or 1 pm and sleep until time to go to work. It's hard with kids though.

    Take some kind of alarm (I use an egg-timer) and, on your break, find some quiet dark place and take a nap. That 20 minutes can save your life--and your patients' lives! I encourage my whole staff to do the same. I find it's more important to sleep than eat ;p

    Exercise regularly. This will make a huge difference in how you feel and sleep.

    Eat light, eat well. I have a friend who swears by her diet, fruits and veggies at least every 2 hours all night long. I automatically gain 20 pounds every time I go on night shift, even though I actually eat way less.

    As much as you can, try to keep the same schedule on your days off as your work days--skipping around is terrible stress, and you are gonna short yourself on sleep somewhere.

    Don't give up your real life--just organize it better. I know so many people who start on night shift and pretty soon they don't do anything but work and sleep, because they are so tired. I know I regret every baseball game or school play I didn't go to--I didn't miss too many, but I could have done better.

    Speaking of kids--at one point in my career I had a problematic job. Turned out the solution for me and my son was that he went to bed right after supper and he got up at 4 am to be with me Now, how cool is that! Think out of the box for your own solutions and they will come )

    Edit: I forgot to add--I take a week off every three months, whether I have the time or not. I need the rest more than I need the money.
    Last edit by Cobweb on Apr 3, '07
  4. by   nurse4theplanet
    This is an interesting thread. I posted a thread recently about finding more energy...I have a sneaking suspicion that I belong on nights. I work 7a-7p, but I feel sleep deprived constantly. I can't go to bed around 8 or 9pm, and no matter how much sleep I get at night, or even on my days off, I feel drained.

    When I do have time off, my schedule begins to migrate...I stay up later, sleep later, and then I have to start all over again. When I stay up all night, I do sleep less and wake up feeling better than if I went to bed on a 'normal' schedule.

    It would be a plus for me to work nights because hubby works 6p-6a, and right now we are like ships passing in the night. The only thing that holds me back is that I want to start a family and I am afraid that it would be very difficult to work with two night shifter schedules. Anyone have any experience with this? Also, I don't want to get stuck on nights if I hate it or hubby gets a position on days.
  5. by   RNfaster
    I just started working nights and am amazed at how much extra I sleep on my days off. When I oversleep, I am sometimes ready to go back to days, but I then make myself go to sleep so that I am in tune with the night schedule --and end up sleeping even more extra hours.

    I cover my eyes with something. I am going to look into an eye mask since so many of you mention the importance of a darkened room.

    I also have tried taking a tincture of kava. It tastes terrible but seems to offer me very restful sleep. It is way more potent than a kava tea (by a company called Yogi Tea, I think).

    I have quit caffeine.

    My workout is off. I am going to try to get it back on track since so many of you seem to find it helps you.

    Socializing while working nights is hard. But I spend less money. I am just finishing my nursing prereqs and preparing to enter nursing school. Working nights also offers fewer distractions --and seemingly, more study time.

    I am working as a nurse assistant on a med-surg unit doing 12-hour shifts. I think this work is a little more physical in nature than the work I will do as an RN. --I still think that I will have to be in good physical shape to do either... and it's good that I am learning that now (before school) as opposed to later.
  6. by   JoniL&DRN
    Great suggestions so far my fellow night people!

    I work 12's (18-0630) and for the first few months I was a total idiot. I was crying all the time. I hated myself and basically everthing else (it didn't help that it was summer and I had all my kids home) It took some getting used to and finding my own rhythm and 'helps'. I also go to school during the day so my challenge is the flip flop to the degree of needing to be not just awake but ALERT!

    - EAR PLUGS! Ear plugs saved my life! I swear. I am a mother of three and as many mothers know, we often wake up with the slightest noise (even the neighbor mowing their lawn four houses away). I can hear my alarm clock and that's all I need.

    - Turn off the phone. I keep the cell phone on for emergencies. If someone calls it there better be a good reason!

    - Sleep mask. Another life saver. Took a little getting used to but it's black as night in my room and since my room isn't blacked out it's kind of a must.

    - SURRENDER! On my first day off I don't demand much from myself. I come home, sleep a couple of hours and then spend the rest of the day around the house. This used to make me feel guilty but then I started to think of it this way.. if I worked days I'd be gone anyway so I'm still saving myself hours!

    - Get with the rest of the family. If you have kids or a husband I think it's probably vital to get on their schedule. (besides there isn't much to do at 3 am when they are all sleeping). I go to bed with my husband on my first day off.

    - Change your thinking. I used to feel so BAD for myself.. poor pitiful me I have to work nights. But, then I did the math. I CHOSE nights so I could see my kids. Overall I really do feel like I get the better deal. Granted I AM tired a lot of the time, but hour for hour I am home more when the rest of the family is up than my day shift compadres.

    -You WILL be tired. Really. You WILL. But I guess for me there are worse things than sleepy. Excercise helps, of course.

    The night shift isn't for everyone. One of my girlfriends just left us because I just DID NOT WORK for her. Sometimes that is the case. But, that being said, I'm glad I stuck it out. I'd rather be on the night shift any day!

    Good luck to you!
  7. by   HogNurse
    I hear ya as a new grad, I am fixin to take my first job as nights since I will be going to school from about 4-7 and then working 11-7 some nites during the week and some 12 hr shifts on the weekends. I hope I am not signing a death wish. I'm sorta scared after reading all of this. The good thing...or atleast I hope is that I'm only gonna be part-time since I'm a full-time student. Part-time I'll hafta do approx 24 hrs a week....Does anyone out there have any encouragement?!?!?
  8. by   bubba04
    hello all,

    I am a new grad orienting on the day shift and will be working on my own during the night swift in about 2 weeks. in addition to that I will be starting school in a week. I have worked nights in the lab for about 3 years and found that when i sleep for hours after work and sleep 2-3 before my shift that it seems to help me go through the night. How i will fit that into my busy schedule this time around will be challenging. any suggestions???
  9. by   angel o' mercy
    I feel for you. I have been a new nurse for two years and found it very hard to adjust to nights in the beginning. I found for me, I am so tired at the end of my shift I am asleep before my head hits the pillow. I work 3 12s 7p-7a and never do three in a row. I do 2 in a row than have a few days off in between to recoup and than go back for 1 night. Like the previous poster mentioned, the day after your last night your are just no good, too tired for anything. I try to be in bed by 0830 after working and only sleep till 3pm on the days I have to go back in that eve. I thought staying up till 2-3am would keep my body in sink with the night schedule, uh uh. What I do is as above, maybe 6-6 1/2 hrs sleep on work days and regular bed time on days off. On my first day off after my two in a row, I will sleep till 3 or 4pm and than get up do what needs done and am back in bed by 10:30-11:00. The next morning I am ready to go, well rested. I use my first day off to veg. I dont do much of anything, much to my hubbys shagrin.
    Caffeine doesnt bother me, I actually drink a pepsi or two throughout the night to stay awake, dont like coffee, but you know your own body. Rest is the most important thing you can give your bodybecause we put a physical and mental beating on ourselves when we work our 12's. Hang in there and try different things before you throw in the towel on nights.
  10. by   jenw922
    I just purchased room darkening curtains from along with light filtering blinds. I work 12 hour shifts and try to do no more then 2 in a row, I also take lunesta in the morning which helps me sleep for 7 uninterupted hours, I still dont feel great but I manage. Good LucK!
  11. by   flygirl43
    Some people just can't do it. It can result in very strange health problems. Get out
  12. by   tay08
    You said you've worked all kind of jobs. What's the best jobs you ever did
  13. by   Angelrina,CCRN
    Just want to thank those who posted tips for all your help. I am a new grad and will be starting on nights after I complete orientation. I'm so nervous about it but I find all the tips here to be very helpful. Thanks so much! The hospital I will be working for has a year and a half waiting list for days so I will be on nights for a while and really hope I can make the best of it.