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Starting your first night shift ever


How do you night nurses recommend starting your first night shift. I've been told to take a nap from 8-1030p (I start at 11p, work until 730a) and then proceed to your new sleep schedule following this first shift (sleeping the next morning). How did you do it?

Tweety, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac. Has 28 years experience.

Everyone does it differently. But if you haven't worked nights, it's definately a good idea to get that evening nap in. I work 7p to 7a so tend to stay up late on my days off and sleep all day.

Good luck!

ERNurse752, RN

Has 8 years experience.

I agree with taking a nap, although I'd probably take a longer one if it were me. But I looooove to sleep, hehe.

This site has some helpful tips:


Good luck, and be careful driving home!


Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis. Has 24 years experience.

You will likely have to try a number of different things before you discover what sleeping pattern works for you. But make sure all people you know (including work) respect your sleep time. No phone calls at noon after your shift to "ask questions" or schedule meetings! You may even had to disconnect your doorbell if that is a problem, like it was for me.

Turn off phones, turn on the answering machine. Block out light in your room if you can, and keep it cool. Run a fan or white noise machine to block out outside distracting noises. Eat well. Drink lots of water. Exercise. That is my best advice to handle working nightshift.

I do 12 hour, 7p-7a, Sat/Sun. When I get off Monday AM I sleep about 4-5 hours, then keep a late night schedule and sleep 'til noon. I'm frequently on call so I am able to go in late nights if needed. I don't answer the phone when I sleep during the day, I have a beeper if I'm on call and they need to get in touch with me. If you want to survive nights, sleep has to be a priority. :zzzzz

zambezi, BSN, RN

Specializes in CCU (Coronary Care); Clinical Research.

I agree with those that say that you will have to try some different things to find what works for you. Personally, I usually sleep from 1 or 2 until 500 pm and then leave for work at 610 at night. I recommend getting in a good "breakfast' before you go...and bring snacks to keep you going. After that I sleep from 9 or 9 until 5 on my consecutive nights. After the last night that I work I come home and go to bed around 8 am and wake up anywhere from 2-4 pm...then sleep "normal" that next night...

live4today, RN

Specializes in Community Health Nurse.

Great tips to follow! :) I, too, start nightshift tomorrow night and will be working 12 hour nights. Haven't worked nights in a long time, so it will be interesting to say the least. At least I'll have one night off between my three 12's this week to sleep in. I'll need that sleep, too. But...it's only for 10 more weeks since I'm on contract right now. I do NOT want to make a habit of working 12 hour nights again, so probably won't take another contract working nights. :uhoh3:

nialloh, RN

Specializes in IMCU/Telemetry. Has 8 years experience.

Great replys all. I work 7p - 7a and love it. Before I work, I go to bed for 2-3 hours sleep. Even if I don't sleep well, I have told my body I'll be up all night and I do ok.

When I have a few days in a row off, I go to sleep at 9 - 10am and get up at 2 - 3pm. I am then able to sleep at a normal time.

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