transitioning to nights, need advice

  1. I will start transitioning to nights next week and I'm a bit anxious on how well I will tolerate the transition. I know that night are not natural for the body and we are "supposed" to sleep at night and up during the day. I would just like some advice, comments, anything to help ease me.

    I have heard that you clearly like nights or hate it. There are no grey areas. Thanks for any advice given.
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    Joined: Jul '12; Posts: 1


  3. by   MJeanRN
    For me, the problem is not that I have a difficult time staying awake through the night, but making myself go to sleep during the day! I started off with a simple sleep mask (Walmart, less than $5), but ended up with black out curtains in my bedroom (Walmart again, less than $15 per panel).
    I think the worst part is missing out on "normal life". However, I know several nurses that transition back to daytime living on their days off. I stay on my night schedule even on my nights off so that I don't confuse my body. It may take a couple of weeks to get used to it, but nights are not for everyone. Make sure you're eating and drinking throughout the night, as you won't be getting this during the day when you're sleeping, and it's easy to forget. Just my !
  4. by   SummerGarden
    The best way to adjust to night shift is to drop any negative attitude or thoughts you have toward the shift. You either hate or love it with no gray areas? Not true.

    I noticed that the biggest barrier most have working nights is that they are the most negative people regarding nights. They site various sources to justify their negative attitudes and point to them when it does not work out when in fact, their negative attitude is the big reason that it did not work out.

    Also, your family and friends need to respect the fact that you are sleeping at a time they are wide awake and that you are working when they are winding down for the night. If they do not have a clue and cannot respect your time to sleep and your time to be at work, then cut your phone off and check your messages when it is convinent to do so.

    The pros to working nights (I have worked 8s, 10s, and 12s as a night shift worker) are that I have way more time to perform personal chores, run errands, volunteer, join committees, and attend family functions etc. working nights as oppose to day shift....

    Do not get me wrong, I know that it may take you a few days or even a week to adjust your sleep cycle to the shift, but that does not mean you will never adjust to the shift. Again, attitude is everything because working nights is a lifestyle change if you have never worked nights.

    By the way, in order to assist with sleeping during the day, keep your room dark and quiet (turn off the phone and TV), stay away from too much caffeine at work prior to going home, and take care of yourself by eating right and exercising on your time off. Good luck.
  5. by   LeighaChristineSN
    I just started working nights in June and actually really like it (I have worked the PM shift at all my previous jobs). I am more of a night person anyways usually going to bed at about three in the morning so staying up a few extra hours is no big deal for me. That being said I had the same reservations you seem to have before I started.

    I would give yourself a few weeks to a month to get used to it; I feel like I am just now starting to develop a schedule and I've been doing it for over a month! Drink a lot of water because, like the previous poster said you'll miss out on drinking it while you sleep during the day. I've found that eating little snacks helps me stay awake as opposed to eating a big meal. My eating habits have strangly been more effected than my sleeping pattern. I personally can flip flop between NOC sleeping cycle and "normal" people sleeping cycle on my off days but, do what's best for you. I would suggest trying to sleep right when you get home so that you can have as much of the day left as you can; I usually get home between 0715 and 0730 and am in bed sleeping by 0800 and try to be up at 1600 at the very latest.

    Nights are great because they are more laid back and you have more time to get things done. There is less drama on nights (at least at my facility) because, really what is so importantly dramatic that it needs to be discussed at 0300. For the most part the people I work with love nights. Just remember it isn't forever!!

    Good luck! Looking forward to hear any tips you pick up!!
  6. by   meanmaryjean
    I just completed my master's thesis / research project on exactly this topic. I've also worked nights for the majority of my 30+ years as an RN. Here's what I know:
    A) all the cool people work nights. It's a fact

    B) People are genetically either 'owls' or 'larks'. Genetic owls have a much easier time adjusting to nights. Genetic larks will be miserable. (This is new research coming out of Scandinavia - you'll be hearing a LOT about this is the years to come)

    C) Staying on a night-type schedule all week is much kinder to your body that switching back and forth. A full-time, 12-hour night nurse who tries to switch back to a day schedule on their days off experiences the jet-lag equivalent of flying from Indianapolis to Istanbul, Turkey and back six to ten times per month.

    D) I am developing a niche for myself as a subject expert on circadian adaptation and disruption in health care workers. Feel free to contact me through PM if I can help you further.
  7. by   Clementia
    I've been a night nurse for six years, working 12-hour shifts. Here's how I adapt:

    1) I try to work all my nights for the week in one chunk, so I'm not swinging back and forth from nights to days too often.
    2)Before my first night shift of the week, I stay up till about 2 or 3 am and then sleep till about 3 in the afternoon.
    3) I make sure to sleep at least 6-8 hours during the day between night shifts.
    4) When all the week's shifts are done and I've come home in the morning of a day I have off, I sleep for about 4-5 hours, get up for a while in the afternoon, and then go to bed at my normal time.
    I'm one of those people who likes to stick to a day schedule on my days off, and this system helps me do it. I learned the hard way that it's very important to get plenty of sleep -- cutting yourself short will only result in burnout. So I close the shades and sometimes put a fan on so the room is as dark as possible and background noise is reduced.
    Also, to help stay awake on night shift I drink lots of water and always bring along something to do (a book to read or something) for the hours when nothing is going on.
    I know the transition can be tough, but I think nights are a lot less stressful than days. Besides, most night nurses and aides that I've met are really nice to work with! Good luck!
  8. by   CrunchyMama
    I've been working 11p-7a for almost a year. I was doing full time originally but had a baby, so I went to part time in January. I will never do full time nights again! I work 3 nights/week, so it's a little easier. I don't LOVE the shift but it beats the day shift since you don't have to deal with families, doctors, and other departments. It's much more laid back BUT can get pretty crazy too. I don't think you ever get used to the lack of least I haven't. I love my sleep and I'm so sleep deprived it's insane, lol. Having 3 young kids doesn't help...including my 9 month old who still doesn't sleep through the night. Good luck!