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Working Nights is Making me Sick


Specializes in Med-Surg. Has 2 years experience.

I'm a new grad who just started working nights (7-7) and I am not adjusting well at all. I feel sick all the time. I can't eat. I feel shaky all the time. No matter how much I sleep, I feel exhausted. I keep crying over the smallest things. I'm physically and emotionally exhausted. I just started this job and my body can't handle it.

I feel like asking if there's a way I could be moved to the day shift, but I'd probably be at the bottom of the totem pole because I'm brand new. I don't know how long I can last in this job feeling like this. And it's not like I can just leave and move somewhere else, I have no experience. Can someone guide me in what to do? Because this is killing me.

Hi OP.

I used to work nights in my former job. It is really hard at the beginning. 2 years after I started I was still taking power naps (2 mins max) on the bathroom stall! You're not alone. I don't know what advice to give you. This is going to be extremely hard on you physically and mentally , if you haven't done it before.

The way I copped with it was to go to the restroom and sit on the loo, lay my head on my knees and close my eyes for a few mins. Then wash my face with cold water and keep going!

It is hard, and I feel you. :(

Hopefully you can switch to days soon!


meanmaryjean, DNP, RN

Specializes in NICU, ICU, PICU, Academia. Has 44 years experience.

Are you eating properly? I find so many nurses who complain about adjusting to nights are not eating during their shift.You would eat during a 12 hour day shift, maybe more than once. You must do this on nights as well.

Blackout shades, and getting one of those alarm clocks that wakes you up slowly with light might help too. Night shift is very hard and some people just can't adjust. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water and eating healthy snacks. No harm in talking to your manager either, but switching to days might take some time. Wish you the best.

CrunchRN, ADN, RN

Specializes in Clinical Research, Outpt Women's Health. Has 25 years experience.

You need to make it work. Absolutely sucks, but if that is what you were hired for then you need to adjust. I also hated it. 5 am is the worst. You need to figure out what self care options will help and then you just have to buck up. Get 1 year and then you will have options.

Yes gotta suck it up. Good healthy food, no junk, no coffee, no cigarettes. I disliked nights, but the time went by eventually.

How long have you been working? Are you young enough that you're working your very first job ever, plus working nights at 12 hour shifts, and in a very stressful environment such as nursing?

Try not to fight it. Resign yourself to the fact that you must get through this, until you either have enough time in to switch to days or seek another position.

On nights, most of the world is 180 degrees opposite of you. If you can, wear sunglasses right from the time you walk outside in the morning till you get home. Helps with being able to sleep or at least relax when you get home. I kept lights off or at least very low when I got home. No TV, checked on the animals, ate alight healthy breakfast and went straight to bed. Then a nap before going back in. I worked zero OT when on nights.

I never had to work scheduled nights as a nurse, only when mandated. I did have to work scheduled nights in factory work. it was tough. I had to stop and take a power nap on the side of the road both on the way in to work and again on the way home from work. So glad those days are long gone...

Good luck, you'll make it.

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 44 years experience.

What are you doing on your days off? Some newbies make the mistake of living "a day schedule" when they are off and the switching to a night schedule when they work. That just prevents the body from developing a routine. Even on your days off, you should at least stay up very late and then sleep in very late so that your body can develop a rhythm that is compatible with a night schedule.

You also might find it helpful to work your nights in a block of 2 or 3 at at time and then be off for 2 or 3 at a time. Find the pattern that works best for you and maybe your boss can help you get a schedule that makes the nights more tolerable for you.

If some of these things don't work ... then you may have to quit your job and find another career path. You don't want to have a car accident because of exhaustion and kill someone.


Specializes in Med-Surg. Has 2 years experience.

Thank you all for your comments.

This is my first nursing job. I am a new grad. For sleeping, I have blackout curtains and an eye mask that I use to sleep. When I wake up, I feel all thrown off. I don't feel hungry, but I force myself to eat what I can. As far as eating, before I go to work, I eat whatever is for dinner, which is usually food packed with protein. When I get a break at work, I have a sandwich, fruit, and a protein bar usually.

I notice, though, a few hours later, I starving again. When I get home, I have breakfast and go to bed. If I have work that night, I find myself only able to get 4-5 hours of sleep. On my nights off, I can sleep fine, and I stick to the night schedule as best I can, but it takes a toll on my emotional health. I hardly get to spend time with my family and I miss them a lot.

I hope I can last a year in this. It's already so hard and I just began.

This is totally different advise from everyone else, but here it is. I worked nights for a little over a year. I felt sick and nauseous almost constantly, like you. I powered through, thinking I would eventually adjust. But I never did and ended up with unexplained tachycardia that just shows up (four months later). I was doing tele, so I hooked myself up and went to take a nap. I was hitting 150 while complete asleep, so I went to the ER. They sent me to a cardiologist. She told me to stop drinking caffeine and stop working nights (and drink more wine ������������). I had to find another job, as they didn't have a day opening for three months and I didn't want to push my luck. I'm not a princess-y type, either. I'm known for pushing through in hard situations. All that to say- nights are hard on everybody, but not possible for some. I don't think you should push yourself. I think you should go to your manager and ask for days when it's possible. At that point, try to hang in there a little and keep looking for another job. Being a nurse isn't your entire life and it's not worth risking your life.


Has 8 years experience.


Sorry to hear about your night shift sickness. If you are currently working in a hospital, you might want to consider working for a clinic instead? Clinic is slower pace. Then again, if you are brand new, that option might not be available for you. Employers want experience.

Have you considered a career change? That's exactly what I did after 8 years working as an RN. I love my new career and I'm definitely less stressed. If you're interested in the possibility of a career change, send me a private message for more details.

Night shift is hard. I remembered old patients get extremely confused at nights. They tried to climb out of bed and put out their IVs. I'm so glad I don't have to deal with that anymore. whew!

I'm a fairly new grad and I am experiencing the same thing :( I love my job and just really struggle withave working nights. Anyone else have advice to give? :(

I started on nights, did it for 9 months and quit because I couldnt handle it anymore. I was on a waiting list to move to days and they kept telling me I would get to go the next month, then the next and so on. I ended up leaving and now work for homehealth 8 to 5. I physically feel way better but I dont think it was worth leaving my job. If i could go back I would have tried to suck it up because I really do miss that job, it was on a trauma floor and I learned so much. So my advice would be to learn from my mistake and try to stick with it.

ClaraRedheart, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg. Has 7 years experience.

Stick it out if you like the floor, co-workers, manager, etc... Otherwise, find a new job. You might talk with your doctor too. I went through the same thing as a new grad. Tachycardia, hypertension, anxiety, uncontrollable shaking (I bent several insulin needles one night and had to ask another nurse to draw it up for me once :( ) I even had a 1 month long period and then developed a UTI then kidney infection. I cried over some of the dumbest things. It is HARD on the body. I think my problem was lack of sleep. No matter how you crack it, 5-6 hours per night is NOT what is recommended. Especially in a high stress environment that you are new in. I eventually talked to my doc and was prescribed propanolol for the anxiety and heart rate and ambien for sleep. It helped a TON, but didn't cut it and I finally moved to days. I don't need either medication now. I feel that days are faster paced and can be more stressful, but I deal with it better now. If you can handle a year on nights, or however long it takes to transfer to days, stick it out. I think it was easier to learn time management as a new nurse than it would have been on days. Best wishes!