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Resting Up For Night Shifts

Updated | Posted

Specializes in Family Nurse Practitioner.

I hope you all are staying safe and sane during this worldwide freakout from Covid-19!

I'd like to know, do you sleep well enough during the day to be "well-rested" (for lack of better wording) for your night shift? I know coffee is always an option to give you the extra boost if you need but is sleeping during the day time helpful or does it make you more tired when work time comes? If it is helpful, how much rest do you get/need to operate during a night shift?

I worry that when I work nights, I'll sleep during the day trying to rest up and end up being super tired and yawning the entire time I work.

Thanks so much in advance!

Davey Do

Specializes in around 25 years psych, 15years medical. Has 42 years experience.

Hi Mya!

Thank you for your well wish and I have to say that the people who freak out scare me more than the virus.

Working 12 hour MN shifts, I tend to get 5-7 hours of sleep during the day on the nights I work.

I love my coffee to wake up with but don't drink it at work, I tend to drink water. I found out back in the early '90's when I worked 12 hour MN shifts in med-surg and ER that regularly drinking coffee made me more tired, so I tried drinking water and voila! I felt more energetic.

I never get enough quality sleep during the day. The closest I get to it is if I am able to lie down, fall asleep, and not wake up at all until it is time to get ready for the next shift. No day time hours or activity at all. But I am now older, not in good shape at all, I have contracted several existing conditions that put me at special risk (family members want me to stop work so I am not exposed at all). When I was younger (35 or 45 years ago), it was easier to go all night and a good deal of the day too for days at a time. No more. And to top it all off for me: I have an upstairs neighbor who makes my life a living hell with his noise and the noise of his children, done deliberately. Additionally, his nonstop smoking triggers my asthma, diagnosed since living next to him and his predecessor, who smoked even more. The smoke seeps into my apartment and permeates the air and my CPAP machine. There is nothing I can do. I can not afford to move. Property management is useless. They refuse to even make him quiet it down. If I had more disposable income, I could rent a detached house where I could control what I breathe indoors as well as have a quieter environment. Nobody that I have met during a lifetime (some 45 plus working years) of mostly night shift has ever told me that they were completely adjusted to a healthy amount of necessary sleep. Everyone I have met has always suffered to some extent health wise for working night shift. You might be able to withstand it now, but thirty years from now your health will probably not be great due to night shift. Sorry but that is the way it has been for me and others I have known over the years. BTW, my father worked for more than 20 years night shift on his final job. When he was medically forced to retire, he was never, never able to adapt to day hours. He spent a very lonely existence sitting in a chair in the living room all night long. It was sad to see him suffer so.

RNperdiem, RN

Has 14 years experience.

I mainly work days. Nights are only an occasional shift for me, so I don't try to sleep the day before. I just push through the night. Now, if I worked nights regularly, then sleep during the day would be a big priority. Sleep is a physiological need. To stay mentally sharp at work and keep physically healthy and emotionally sound, you need enough sleep.

LibraNurse27, BSN, RN

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

Caliotter33 I used to work nights and also had trouble sleeping due to living in a small apartment complex with thin walls. I bought earplugs called Howard Leight FUS30-HP Fusion corded earplugs that construction workers use and they block out everything! the cord can be removed if you don't like it, it's just to keep them in your ears. I'm sure you've tried earplugs, just wanted to recommend this brand. I liked blackout curtains too. Not sure what to say about the smoking though, that is so terrible and inconsiderate of your neighbors. I can't believe your property manager won't do anything, and I am sorry.

Nunya, BSN

Specializes in NICU/Mother-Baby/Peds/Mgmt. Has 39 years experience.

16 hours ago, caliotter3 said:

I never get enough quality sleep during the day. The closest I get to it is if I am able to lie down, fall asleep, and not wake up at all until it is time to get ready for the next shift. No day time hours or activity at all. But I am now older, not in good shape at all, I have contracted several existing conditions that put me at special risk (family members want me to stop work so I am not exposed at all). When I was younger (35 or 45 years ago), it was easier to go all night and a good deal of the day too for days at a time. No more. And to top it all off for me: I have an upstairs neighbor who makes my life a living hell with his noise and the noise of his children, done deliberately. Additionally, his nonstop smoking triggers my asthma, diagnosed since living next to him and his predecessor, who smoked even more. The smoke seeps into my apartment and permeates the air and my CPAP machine. There is nothing I can do. I can not afford to move. Property management is useless. They refuse to even make him quiet it down. If I had more disposable income, I could rent a detached house where I could control what I breathe indoors as well as have a quieter environment. Nobody that I have met during a lifetime (some 45 plus working years) of mostly night shift has ever told me that they were completely adjusted to a healthy amount of necessary sleep. Everyone I have met has always suffered to some extent health wise for working night shift. You might be able to withstand it now, but thirty years from now your health will probably not be great due to night shift. Sorry but that is the way it has been for me and others I have known over the years. BTW, my father worked for more than 20 years night shift on his final job. When he was medically forced to retire, he was never, never able to adapt to day hours. He spent a very lonely existence sitting in a chair in the living room all night long. It was sad to see him suffer so.

Hi, please read this and think about consulting a lawyer...

(removed link not working)

brownbook

Has 36 years experience.

I worked 11 pm to 7 am 32 hours a week for 17 years. I think just adding one extra 8 hour shift a week would have made it much harder.

I handled it quite well both mentally and physically. I'm slightly crazy, but I was slightly crazy before I became a nurse 😜 but I do have excellent health.

If you spend most of your waking hours obsessing about sleep then sleep will be a problem. I've slept 4 interrupted hours and felt fine. I've slept 8 solid hours and woke up yucky, headachey, etc.

All posters asking about night shift and sleep, STOP OBSESSING ABOUT IT!

amoLucia

Specializes in LTC.

To answer OP - every person is different. You can only try an approach and watch what happens. Try a Plan B and watch that approach for differences. Plan C, if nec

Eventually you should be able to find out what's best YOU.

And remember to keep your sleeping methods really SUFFICIENT time to measure and compare. An unexpected daytime obligation can rock your best efforts.

Sleeping is just one facet of adjusting to the flow of working NOCs. Just general work expectations can seem super overwhelming. Then factor in eating, family obligations, unexpected illness, school continuation, home management, lifestyle changes, etc and you'll realize that NOCs takes some time to adjust. Poor sleeping just might add to the mix if you're struggling.

But there are folk out there who manage it quite well. REALLY REALLY!

Have you ever heard of the 'self-fulfilling prophecy'? Something like if you ANTICIPATE something to go wrong, it PROBABLY will.

PP brownbook sums it up for you and those not even there yet to NOT over worry.

There are numerous postings on AN with tips and suggestions to help sleeping. Start checking them out for some ideas.

speedynurse, ADN, RN, EMT-P

Specializes in ER, Pre-Op, PACU.

Hi Mya,

So I don’t know if you have worked night shift before but it is different for everyone. Some adjust and some don’t. I am one that doesn’t but still have to hold down a job. I drink coffee before going into work but only drink water during it. Coffee may keep me awake during the shift but generally just makes me feel jittery and awful and my IV skills seem to decline, so hence the reason for only the water during the shift itself.

As for sleep.....honestly, I am often awake the entire day before my first shift, sleep a few hours before the next shift, and then usually sleep a decent amount before the third shift because I am so tired.

I generally adjust back to days on my days off which generally makes me constantly exhausted, but I have other priorities and can’t stay on a night schedule constantly. Eating healthy is so important though! I generally eat soup, fruit, and tons of water during a shift. Hope this helps....

I think each person has to try it to see how their body/mind adapts. I actually liked 12 hour nocs better than 8s. But for some reason I had a lot of nausea and never got quality sleep between shifts. I also could not adjust to a "normal" schedule on my off days.

On the other hand, I know so many nurses that loved noc shift and wouldn't think of working days.

curious nature, ADN, RN

Specializes in psych, dialysis, LTC, sub acute rehab, hospice. Has 7 years experience.

Since Aug of this year, I've been working 12s at night in sub-acute rehab, with 4 noc in a row once a month.  At 65, I do feel it, especially if I don't follow my routine or get to bed early enough between consecutive nights, obviously. 

I bought a pair of orange (colored) night-time blue light blocking clip ons, and I do believe they help my eyes relax, and I do sleep better when I use them.  Even with shorter hours of sleep, I feel more rested and in a better mood.  BTW, I have dogs that bark, and I now can still get sleep with  "acceptance" of the noise. 

On the flip side, I recently had disturbances in my mood and health d/t sleep deprivation (could not sleep AT ALL), which ended up with Covid-like sx, resulting in testing X 2 (negative results :) and loss of income 😞 / more rest at home :).

In my humble opinion, nocs can be a beast, even with the best plans.  Maybe it's just my age, though.

P.S. The orange lenses only work if you wear them.  haha

Edited by curious nature