Worried about new schedule

Nurses General Nursing


Hello all, I'm starting a new schedule at my new job in 2 weeks. My schedule is 36hr/week rotating days and nights (7a-7p, 7p-7a). Before I have only worked days, evenings, and 7a-7p.

From what I've gathered from other nurses they either seem to have no problem with it or they're in tears because it is so hard on them.

I'm worried. I have problems with sleeping at baseline, I can only imagine switching back and forth from days to nights is only going to mess me up even more. I'm also worried about becoming depressed and feeling disconnected with everyone else when I'm working all night and sleeping all day (all I can think of is horrible SAD in the winter!)

I'm determined to do well at this new job--it's my dream position and I am more than willing to start out on this rough schedule to pay my dues as a new nurse.

So I guess I'm curious to those experienced with rotating days/nights if you would share any stories or tips with me? How/when do you sleep? Do you get depressed easily? How do you manage?

"I am more than willing to start out on this rough schedule to pay my dues as a new nurse."

Do those dues include your health? How often are you required to change your sleep schedule?

If you currently have an issue with sleeping, rotating night shift work can only magnify that issue.

Try it out. I would assume that there are nurses that would love to trade the day position towards an all night job... and vice-versa.

Why does your employer feel this is necessary to staff the facility?

It's 2 weeks day, 2 weeks night with a few days off in b/w the switch. To be honest, I'm not sure why, but it's a pretty common schedule for people just beginning in my unit (esp. new grads). I wish I was a better sleeper :( But thanks, I'll definitely see how it goes.

Specializes in Oncology.

Yikes! I would have a very rough time with that schedule. If it were me, I'd ask if I could do straight nights instead. When I was in grad school I often worked nights 7p-7a, then had to do clinicals 8a-6p on my days off. It made me feel constantly tired, constantly hungry, and depressed.

Specializes in ER/ICU/STICU.

Bottom line is rotating sucks. Does your unit self schedule? We do in our unit and I find that if I group my days together and my nights together it's not so bad. It also helps to limit the amount of going back and forth. Also ask around of the unit with other staff that has to rotate to see if any prefer nights or days. Some of my coworkers have switched days for nights and vice versa after signing up for their required days and nights.

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching.

rotating has a really bad rap, but i actually enjoy it. every two weeks seems like a lot, but my favorite job of all time required rotating every two weeks, and i got used to it. like everything else, attitude makes an enormous difference, and if you make up your mind at the outset to make it work for you, it will.

i self schedule where i am now, and usually rotate every 3 weeks -- but did 12 weeks of straight night shift this spring at my own behest because i felt as though i were starting to get a little crispy and wanted to nip it in the bud. every two weeks is imminently doable, especially with a few days to switch over. i've found it far easier to go from days to nights than from nights to days.

you'll find a lot of wisdom in other threads, especially if you do a search on making night shift work for you. take your sleep seriously: turn off the electronics, use a sleep mask or black-out curtains, a fan creates both white noise and air movement and educate your family and friends. i cannot emphasize that last enough. educate your family and friends that your sleep time is sacred. most won't "get it" that if you have to work all night, you'll have to sleep all day. it doesn't matter if they understand or not, but they do have to respect it. there are different recommendations for starting out your night shift stretch -- i like to stay up late the night before and then sleep until past noon; my dh gets up at the usual time and then takes a sleeping pill around 1pm and naps for 4-5 hours. you'll figure out what works for you. if you need pharmaceutical help to sleep when you need to, use it.

rotating shifts (or working night shift) will mess you up if you let it, but make up your mind that this new job is worth it to you and don't let it. dh has sad and is prone to depression, but we've been making rotating schedules work for us for the past several years. i actually like it a lot. just when i get sick of all the drama, activity and visitors on days, i go to nights for some peace and quiet. (relative peace and quiet; night shift works hard, too.) and when i get burned out on nights, it's time to go back to day shift. plus you get the opportunity to learn from all the doctors, rts, pts, ots, pharmacists, etc. who are around during the daytime, but you still get to practice independence and autonomy at night. i think it's the best of both worlds.

good luck!

Specializes in Emergency.

I did this as a new grad and it was WORSE. 7 days of 12s straight on days then off for 7 days then backon to 7 straight days of nights. Yes, I learned a lot in 7 days, then forgot some of it in the 7 off, then learned it again...

I did ok with the sleeping thing though. You can get used to it. and if you know you are not stuck forever its easier to bear.

Thank you for your wonderful reply Ruby Vee! You're right I think attitude will make a big difference. I'm worried about whether I can handle it, but I AM determined! This job is an incredible opportunity and I think my schedule will only be for a year or two.

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