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Sleeping in vehicle between shifts

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NGRN89 NGRN89 (New) New Nurse

Hi everyone. I'm a new nurse. I've always wanted to work in a level I ICU. The hospital I was hired at is 2 hrs from home, and moving really isn't an option for me. I own my home and I don't plan to work at this particular hospital for more than a year or so. I am about to finish orientation. I was hired on weekend nights, but I've been doing orientation during day shift and staying in hotels between shifts due to my long commute. Well, getting hotels for night time is alot easier than getting them for days, due to the late check in and early checkout times. So, I was debating renting and apartment but I hate to pay the enormous amount of money just for somewhere to sleep and shower 2 days a week. My question is, I'm debating getting off work on Saturday and Sunday mornings, crashing in my car for 6 hrs or so. Getting up and going for some food, stretching, then coming back and showing at the hospital and going to work after. This will save me a boatload of cash. I understand it may not be the most comfortable sleeping, but I think it would be manageable and benefit would outweigh the cons. Especially since its basically temporary. Any advice? Has anyone did this?  Thank you!

speedynurse, ADN, RN, EMT-P

Specializes in ER, Pre-Op, PACU.

I understand the financial ramifications of owning a home and the commute. I do wonder though how long the vehicle arrangement would be feasible though. It could be dangerous during hot or cold days. It could be risky depending on where the hospital is located. The quality of sleep would be iffy too. 
 

When I was super poor and working 2 jobs.....a full time and PRN job - I admit to taking an hour nap in my car here and there from sheer exhaustion from the commutes, but that was just to recharge to get from one place to the other and when I felt that I wasn’t safe driving.

I do understand where you are coming from. I just wonder how feasible and how safe it is to do this....

3 minutes ago, speedynurse said:

I understand the financial ramifications of owning a home and the commute. I do wonder though how long the vehicle arrangement would be feasible though. It could be dangerous during hot or cold days. It could be risky depending on where the hospital is located. The quality of sleep would be iffy too. 
 

When I was super poor and working 2 jobs.....a full time and PRN job - I admit to taking an hour nap in my car here and there from sheer exhaustion from the commutes, but that was just to recharge to get from one place to the other and when I felt that I wasn’t safe driving.

I do understand where you are coming from. I just wonder how feasible and how safe it is to do this....

Thank you. Yeah I definitely see the downside to doing this, but whew.... IDK if there’s enough downside to pay at least  $500-$600/month to rent an apartment and take on all that headache...

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in OR, education. Has 16 years experience.

There was another thread here from another member along the same line where concerns regarding trespassing were brought up - that will be another consideration to keep in mind, as those fines can quickly eclipse the cost of rent you mention.

meanmaryjean, DNP, RN

Specializes in NICU, ICU, PICU, Academia. Has 40 years experience.

I bet one of your new night shift coworkers would be happy to take your offer of $50 - $100 to rent their spare bedroom one night a week. 

juan de la cruz, MSN, RN, NP

Specializes in APRN, Adult Critical Care. Has 27 years experience.

Agree with above. Post something along the lines of "needs spare couch or room to sleep in during my stretch of nights...willing to pay this much in $" in the break room. I bet you'll find co-workers willing to take your offer.

Sour Lemon

Has 9 years experience.

38 minutes ago, NGRN89 said:

Hi everyone. I'm a new nurse. I've always wanted to work in a level I ICU. The hospital I was hired at is 2 hrs from home, and moving really isn't an option for me. I own my home and I don't plan to work at this particular hospital for more than a year or so. I am about to finish orientation. I was hired on weekend nights, but I've been doing orientation during day shift and staying in hotels between shifts due to my long commute. Well, getting hotels for night time is alot easier than getting them for days, due to the late check in and early checkout times. So, I was debating renting and apartment but I hate to pay the enormous amount of money just for somewhere to sleep and shower 2 days a week. My question is, I'm debating getting off work on Saturday and Sunday mornings, crashing in my car for 6 hrs or so. Getting up and going for some food, stretching, then coming back and showing at the hospital and going to work after. This will save me a boatload of cash. I understand it may not be the most comfortable sleeping, but I think it would be manageable and benefit would outweigh the cons. Especially since its basically temporary. Any advice? Has anyone did this?  Thank you!

That sounds like a horrible idea, but give it a test run. Sleep in your car, in your own driveway, on a day when you don't have to work. No cheating. No going inside to use the bathroom or the microwave, etc.

Is showering at work a thing?! I wouldn't even know how to test that out. Maybe sleep at home one day, get to work early, then shower there and see how it factors in?

juan de la cruz, MSN, RN, NP

Specializes in APRN, Adult Critical Care. Has 27 years experience.

2 minutes ago, Sour Lemon said:

That sounds like a horrible idea, but give it a test run. Sleep in your car, in your own driveway, on a day when you don't have to work. No cheating. No going inside to use the bathroom or the microwave, etc.

Is showering at work a thing?! I wouldn't even know how to test that out. Maybe sleep at home one day, get to work early, then shower there and see how it factors in?

I have a co-worker, an NP, who lives 50 miles away and rents a room for her stretch of shifts.  She showers at work...in our call room.  Our hospital campus has a gym with showers...that's another option for employees but the stalls are set up communal style.

LibraNurse27, BSN, RN

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

Maybe air bnb? same price or cheaper than hotel with no hour restrictions. also if you make friends at work like others said maybe someone will let you sleep on weekend days at their house, for money or (hopefully) for free! It's kind of a weird ask, but I would let a friend sleep at my place no problem if I knew them well enough to not think they would rob me 

You can rent a room on a limited basis.  When I rented a room one time, a woman rented one of the rooms and I never saw her.  Her room was no more than a "contingency" room.  And sleeping six hours in your car really isn't that bad.  There are sneaky urinals to use in the car for emergency or you figure out where you can go, or park nearby.  Too bad the gyms are closed, good places for use of bathroom and shower.  Try to move around where you park your car so you don't become too conspicuous in one place.

verene, MSN

Specializes in mental health / psychiatic nursing.

Look into renting a room. My brother did grad school in a different city from where he/his wife were living. He rented a room near the university and stayed there 2-3 nights per week when he had obligations on campus and lived at home the rest of the time. Much more sane option than trying to commute 3 hours each way everyday. He worked out that the cost for the room wasn't that different than what he'd be paying in gas and wear/tear/increased maintenance over that time if he didn't have a place to say. You could probably find a room, apartment sublet, or AUD arrangement for a reasonable price that would be less than a full apartment even if you only use it a a couple nights a week. 

Other option if sleeping in a car is the best option is to get a camper or retrofit a van to be a sleeper-van, and inquire with the hospital if they have a lot for travelers/families to stay overnight in that would be safe. I know of a few hospitals that do this - and the lots usually have better security and may come with access to hospital facilities (e.g. showers/toilets/gym) as part of the parking pass for overnight stays.  

MunoRN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care. Has 10 years experience.

It's certainly possible to sleep comfortably in even a small car, but that's probably going to be the least of your issues, so I'll preface this by saying this is probably a very bad idea.

I used to go on long road trips in a small 1985 Civic hatchback.  I removed the front passenger seat and put a few milk crates on the floor and put a board with a nice camping mattress on top of that.  It was actually very comfortable and with a surprising amount of storage.  

But here's your problems:  Trying to sleep in a car during the day doesn't work, too much light and too much noise, earplugs and an eye mask probably won't cut it.  Plus, it's all the more obvious to others that you are sleeping in your car, which isn't well tolerated pretty much anywhere.  Campers and trailers are better made to keep out noise and light, but those are still priced at a premium right now thanks to Covid.  Finding yourself needing to pee in the middle of night is less of a big deal when it's actually night, during the day that can be quite an ordeal in an urban area, although a urinal would probably take care of that problem, except to properly empty it later you might end up having to take a urine-containing urinal into work with you, which might raise eyebrows. 

A better option would be to try and hunt down a bed for just the days you need it.  In my experience, at larger, urban hospitals you won't be the only one who lives more than an hour away and doesn't want to commute between shifts, so they go in together on a place which is solely for the purpose of hospital staff to sleep.  I've got a friend who worked 3-12's a week in a hospital almost 2 hours away, they stayed there the two nights between shifts and had their own bedroom for $50/month (this was back when you could rent a two-bedroom apartment in a metro area for $600 a month)  There were (usually) 6 people that shared a single bedroom but there was never more than one of them there at a time, so actually a pretty nice deal.  Try and get on the facebook group for staff at the hospital and ask if anyone knows anything, or ask the ER staff, they seem to be the bulletin board for stuff like this.

EDNURSE20, BSN

Specializes in ED, med-surg, peri op. Has 4 years experience.

If your only doing 2 shifts a week then surely you could pay for a cheap hotel one night, and then commute home the next day after work. I wouldn’t risk sleeping in my car for many reasons. 

CalicoKitty, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg, Geriatrics, Wound Care. Has 9 years experience.

2 hours ago, EDNURSE20 said:

If your only doing 2 shifts a week then surely you could pay for a cheap hotel one night, and then commute home the next day after work. I wouldn’t risk sleeping in my car for many reasons. 

The OP mentioned that they are working nights, so the sleeping time would be during the day. Most hotels say "check out 10am, check in 3pm" or something, so the rental would be 2 "nights"..

1 hour ago, CalicoKitty said:

The OP mentioned that they are working nights, so the sleeping time would be during the day. Most hotels say "check out 10am, check in 3pm" or something, so the rental would be 2 "nights"..

Exactly. I’d have to pay for 3 days just sleep for 6-8 hrs and shower on Saturday and Sunday. I shoulda put more thought into this before taking the night shift. 

emtnurse, EMT-B

Specializes in EMT.

11 hours ago, NGRN89 said:

Exactly. I’d have to pay for 3 days just sleep for 6-8 hrs and shower on Saturday and Sunday. I shoulda put more thought into this before taking the night shift. 

Look into dayuse.com! it's kind of like hotels.com, except it helps you find rooms near your area that you can stay during the day. Check in depends on what hotel it is, some hotels let you stay between 6-4pm, 8-6pm, etc. I have used dayuse a couple of times for layovers and it is cheaper vs paying for one night

Edited by emtnurse

0.9%NormalSarah, ADN, RN

Specializes in ICU. Has 2 years experience.

If you can’t get into a rental room situation I’d just call the hotels and find out if you can work out a deal with them to rent a couple days a week. All they can say is no, and you might actually find a place with a nice manager that will work with you. Let them know you’re a nurse busting your behind to take care of all these sick people, I bet you’ll find a sympathetic ear. 

CommunityRNBSN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Community health. Has 3 years experience.

17 hours ago, emtnurse said:

Look into dayuse.com! it's kind of like hotels.com, except it helps you find rooms near your area that you can stay during the day. Check in depends on what hotel it is, some hotels let you stay between 6-4pm, 8-6pm, etc. I have used dayuse a couple of times for layovers and it is cheaper vs paying for one night

I’ve used the website HotelsByDay before. I rented a room in a cheap-but-clean place from 10am to 4pm.  The price was the same as if it were one night. They typically allow you to do 4 hours, 8 hours, 12 hours, etc.