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Rotating shifts anyone?

I am currently rotating shifts. I really dislike it, but thats the pay plan I have. I rotate at least twice between days and nights on a six week schedule- Much of this time I am not really sure what day it is, and find it hard to sleep at night after working nights for a while. I know this is a rotten type of schedule, but it is what I havenow, Any tips on working with this would be really appreciated. I have no trouble sleeping during the day time as I was a night owl for years before this interesting rotating experience. Thanks so very much!

Oh Holly, you poor thing!! I can totally relate to your situation. I began my nursing career 6 months ago on nights (12 hr shifts), absolutely couldn't function, and the only thing my supervisor could come up with was a rotating half days and half nocs schedule. My only tip would be to split the schedule so that one week you do your nights and the next you do days. Definitely try to get the nights in a row so you can get them out of the way and so that your days (or nights) off aren't robbed while you recover.

I wish I had a better solution for you that would work, but only can recommend that you try to get on days only, because I think that rotating is worse than just doing nights alone.

I personally chose my health and sanity over the few extra bucks that the job gave me, and I now work as a back office nurse from 9-5. For me, it's such a relief to feel 'normal', but I was never a night owl, so maybe you will be able to find a solution. Good luck!


There have been several studies done of shift workers rotating shifts. All of the studies came to the same conclusion. Rotating is bad for your health and it is counter productive. If you cannot get a straight shift, rotate from days to nights then take at least 2 days off. And try to maintain as much a routine as you can in all other areas of your life.

Sorry to hear about the bad schedule. I work 2 7-3 shifts, 2 11-7 shifts, and 1 3-11 shift. It gets confusing at times but it works. It did take a while to get to learn when to sleep. Some days you get 3 hours sleep some you get 10 hours. It all works out but I think it is hard on your system. I've thought about every weekend 7-7's but I don't think I'm ready to give up every weekend yet. Good luck with rotating shifts.

My wife sometimes rotates between the three shifts in one week. Shortages cause that. Tough on the body not to mention the family life.

I rotate between day and nights as well doing 12 hour shifts. But we do 4wks of one then switch to the other for the 4wks. I always try to have at least 2-3 days off between the two schedules. Doing 4 weeks at time gives you some routine, however hopefully I won't be doing this forever.

Where I work we do rotating schedules (in our collective agreement). Two days,two nights then 4-6 days off. I like this much more than working only nights. No longer do I feel like a zombie on my days off. The schedule is always the same so I can plan things and pick up extra shifts here and there.


Specializes in Hospice, Critical Care. Has 17 years experience.

Oh lordy do I hate rotating shifts. We are required to work 6 nights in a 6-week schedule (we mostly do 12-hour shifts). A 12-hour night is just hell for me. I'm switching careers everytime I have to work a night (*grin*). Don't have any advice for ya, I hate 'em too. Some people like to get all their nights over with by scheduling them all for the first 2 weeks of the schedule; others like to spread them out. I spread them out because I think I would be suicidal & homicidal if I had to do 2-weeks straight of nights.

I strongly recommend taking an off shift and sticking to it. I don't think they days are worth the toll on your body rotating takes. I worked straight pms for 3 years and straight nights for 7. I really loved it. You must make your sleep time sacred. If you can get satisfactory day time sleep, I think you'll be happier than with rotating.

working rotating shifts has been proven to be hazardous to your health. Many hospitals in NYC do not rotate shifts at all. We've negotiated decent differentials for working evenings & nights. My hospital never had rotating shifts in the 18 years Ive been there & I am told it did away with that staffing practice more than 30 years ago. Im surprised to see how many of you still have to deal with this. In NY, even cops dont have to do that anymore. maybe we should add this to the list with safe staffing ratios, & eliminating mandatory ot.

We work 2 12 hour days 7am til 7 pm then 2 12 hour nights 7pm-7am followed by 5 days off.I like it.However,I have recently switched to part time and I work mostly nights.I do feel better.Right now my unit is doing a self scheduling project.It is going really well.Ther is decreased sick time usage and you don't have to use your vacation or stats as much because you pick your time.There are alot of articles out there on it.See if your employer is willing to give it a try!Good Luck!

I worked rotating shifts for many years-- wore me out. I am definitly not an 11p to 7A person. I choose to do straight 3P to 11P many, many years ago and love it now. I do work nights if there is a call-in that must be replaced (only if I can not find someone else that wants it).

Only you can make the decision if you can do straight off shifts--a family life must also be considered.

Good luck and good sleep



If you enjoy word puzzles come visit me at www.CrosswordsForNurses.com

Thanks all for your suggestions. Our unit does do self scheduling, they will not allow me to work a straight shift. The closest I can get is mostly days and about 4 nights a schedule. I'm trying it. Not being a morning person, this has been a struggle for me. My new thought is of a similar unit, at a different hospital, one that doesn't endorse this rotating nonsense!! Glad to see I am not the only one that has had trouble with this.

Part of the reason I left Nursing to have a business from home was the rotating shifts. Man, I was ALWAYS sick, and life when I WAS off was miserable... I don't think too many nurses rotate anymore from what I hear.... But I still love being home..

You're not alone in your feelings..

Linda/CMAS, BS, RN


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