Trouble on Night shift

Specialties Neuro


I am a RN, just started working nights in neuro ICU this year. Does anyone have a problem working nights. I find that i sleep all the time now. I am only awake at night even on my days off and it ruining my life. Does this happen normally or am i having weird reaction to nights. I am literally nocturnal, no matter how hard i try to get up early i am grouchy and exhausted unless i sleep problem 10-12 a day!! I am thinking of leaving my job for a day shift position anywhere at allI have only been a nurse 2 years and am starting to get discouraged that i will never find the right position for me. Is anyone else feeling any of this??? Thanks for reading!


244 Posts


I had the exact same problems working nights that you described and after a year, I told my manager that I either had to get on days or I was going to have to leave. I just couldn't physically do it and I think that there are some of us whose biological clocks can't tolerate all the switching around.

The only thing I can suggest if you want to tough it out is to make sure that you work all your nights together, taking a short nap before your first shift begins and only sleeping until noon or so the day after your last shift. That was the only way nights were even remotely tolerable for me. Good luck!

gwenith, BSN, RN

3,755 Posts

Specializes in ICU.

Other tricks include wearing dark glasses to drive home - so that the sun does not reset your body clock. Stay up when you get home for a while to wind down,


54 Posts

Wow Gwenith, I never thought that through! Dark glasses make perfect sense. No wonder I always have a hard time getting to sleep after being exhausted at work. I have a half an hour drive home with the sun shining brightly overhead! Well, after four years of nights, I will try that tomorrow...

Gompers, BSN, RN

2,691 Posts

Specializes in NICU.

Yes, the dark glasses are really supposed to help, I hear.

Working your days in a row and then being off for a bunch of days helps, too. Are you working 8's or 12's? Many night shift nurses prefer 12's because then you have 4 days off a week. If you can group your days together and then have a bunch of days off in a row, it helps a lot.

Do you sleep well during the day? Feel well rested? Or do you feel you're sleeping very lightly? Make sure to treat your daytime sleep as seriously as other people treat their nighttime sleep. Room darkening window treatments, sleep mask, ear plugs, phone off, loud fan on - whatever it takes. Do no allow your famliy and friends to cheat you out of a good, solid sleep.

Good luck!

Specializes in ICU, Education.

I would also recommend working your nights in stretches IE... 3nights on 4 off if possible. then it is much easier to revert to a day schedule on your days off. Many nurses try to do the 1 off 1 on type of thing, and uless you are going to change your whole life (including your off time) to the nocturnal life, you must stop this. I have worked nights for 15 years & i do just fine. but i work my nights in a row and sleep well on my first day and night off. There are those that just cannot do it, and you shouln't feel bad if you can't.

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