Post # 1
I just started my nursing career on a busy neurosurgery floor. I absolutely love it, however 99% of my shifts are 12hr overnights. I don’t mind the nightshift at all (I actually prefer it), however I find that it’s really hard on my body and I’m just exhausted! I’m also having a heck of a time with my sleep schedule. If you work nights, do you have any advice on how to adjust your body to it? I feel like it takes 2 days to recover and feel normal after my rotation!
Post # 2
I’m an rpsgt going on 9 years. It still takes me a few days to recover. Nights is hard on your body. Follow ridgid sleep hygiene practices and allow your body the recovery. Nights also screws with your digestion and metabolism. Healthy diet becomes and even greater priority. Vitamin d big time.
Post # 3
Husband works a rotating schedule that includes nights. He eats super healthy on night shifts. In the end, though, unless you stay on a night schedule even on days off, it will be tough. There is something called shift worker sleep disorder – he has it. He has been working nights for the past 9 days and just yesterday fully flipped over to getting 8 hours of sleep.
Post # 4
Darling Husband occasionally works nights, too. He had six weeks of working 5:30 PM to 6:30 AM six nights a week back in September and it was hell. I never saw him and he was so exhausted. He liked the work, because it was far easier than during the day, but he got really weird after a while
I wish I had advice, but no one he works with has figured out how to make it bearable. He has more nights coming up in March and we’re already dreading it. Just have to motor through, I guess.
Post # 5
- Wedding: September 2015 - Hotel Ballroom
I’ve had night jobs in the past (which I LOVED!)
My best advice is to not switch your sleep schedule on your day off. For example, when I worked nights I worked 11pm-7am. I’d come home, be in bed by 8:30am and sleep until 4:30 or 5:30pm. On days where I wasn’t working I could still run errands, have a social life and whatnot. I also havd way more time for hobbies!
Post # 6
Do you get to self-schedule or are you at the mercy of your manager? I’m a night shift nurse that does 12 hour shifts too, but we get to self schedule to an extent. I try to work 2 in a row, sometimes 3 in a row, and then have at least 2-3 days off. It’s tough to work back to back to back sometimes but I find it allows me to enjoy my days off rather than be in recovery mode every other day.
If I’m off tonight (Sunday), and working the next day (Monday), I’ll go to bed at a “normal” time, say 10-11pm, wake up around 8am or so. Do whatever I need to do, then nap from 2-5pm. I get ready, eat dinner and head to work 7-7:30am. I live close to my hospital so I am home and in bed by 8:30am each morning. Then I try to sleep as long as possible – 3:30pm or so. Then I get up, shower, make dinner and repeat if I’m working that night as well. If I’m off that night, I try to not sleep so long – say 12 or 1pm. It’s really hard to force yourself out of bed after only a couple of hours, but then I make myself get up and do something, and try to get to bed at 9 or 10pm that night, so I can be on a “normal” schedule for my days off. I try not to medicate myself too much, but on my nights off I sometimes take a benadryl or two to help me get to sleep early. If I nap too long on my days off, I end up staying awake until 2 or 3am and I’m all screwed up.
Post # 7
I’ll second this advice.
I worked nights for a couple of years. It’s a great shift, and nursing is a wonderful career. Unless I was on vacation, I tried to keep my sleep hours consistent (did shift a couple of hours on my days off, but not any different than what day shift workers would do on the weekends). So if I worked overnight, I’d be in bed by 9 am and sleep until 5 pm. If I had a couple days off in a row, I’d try to go to bed maybe at 6-7 am and get up at 3 pm (it helped going to bed in the dark and waking up in the light when possible).
I feel this was absolutely crucial for my body. Because I was sleeping when most people would be working, I didn’t feel like I missed out on anything. Still wide awake to take yoga classes or do activities or socialize in the evenings. In the dead of night, I would do chores, cook, hit the gym, or do grocery shopping (lived in an area with 24 hr grocery stores and Walmart – it was the best). I don’t have children and was living alone at the time so it was completely doable. My colleagues who had kids would try to flip their sleep schedule back and forth and they always looked like zombies. I am a nurse like you and there’s no way I would have been able to do my job effectively if I was bouncing my sleep hours around like that. Especially as a new nurse. You really do need rest to keep your mind sharp. The body is meant to sleep a consistent schedule.
General sleep hygeine principles are also important – I got blackout curtains and would keep my bedroom very quiet and cool. When I got home from work in the morning and was winding down for bed I’d make sure to shut all the curtains/blinds and turn down the lights so that I wasn’t getting too much light right before bedtime. You can wear sunglasses on your way home from work if your commute is long. It’s also a good idea to keep a regular eating schedule even if your normal mealtimes don’t match up with day shift workers. It’s easy to gain weight on night shift (I did even though I am a really healthy eater) and good nutrition will also give you energy. Stop caffeine far in advance of bedtime so you are not too wired to sleep.
If you are absolutely dead-set on flopping your sleep back and forth and you have the ability to self-schedule, you COULD try to schedule yourself so that you worked several nights in a row then had a long stretch of time off. If you swing it right you can have basically a whole week off. However I really don’t recommend this for new nurses as it is hard to get in a groove and learn the job with big chunks of time off.
Post # 8
I work 50% nights and it still sucks. I find they get harder to get through as time goes by.
If possible sleep in as long as possible and/or have a nap before first night shift. Between night shifts I always take a Benadryl to help me get 7-8 hours. After my last night shift, I let my body sleep as long as it wants and then go back to bed that night but likely later (midnight, 1am).
I try try to keep my meals on my normal life schedule. I have dinner at 6pm. I have breakfast at 5am at work. Minimal snacks in between. Maybe a smoothie. No weight gain.
Post # 9
- Wedding: October 2015 - Ruby Princess
I worked nights on and off through my bedside nursing career. I never got fully used to it. I went full vampire and was pretty nocturnal. I don’t recommend it. Very lonely. Ugh.
The advice about doing 2 or 3 together is probably the best advice. It’s almost like one night shift is equal to 2 actual days because you have to prepare the day of the start of your shift, and recover the day your shift ends. so although it sounded good to say I only work 3 night shifts a week and that equals full time, it evens out because I spend the whole week recovering resetting my circadians.
I work as an educator now and get normal business hours, weekends and holidays off. I miss the bedside sometimes but you can’t beat having a normal sleep/wake schedule.
Post # 10
Straight nights will always be easier than a rotating shift.
Work as many nights in a row as you can to maximize your stretches off.
Ambien! I would try to work 4-6 nights in a row and on my first “off” day would let myself sleep in until whenever I woke up- usually around 2pm. Then I would take an Ambien and go to bed around 11 and zzzz until the next day. It helped.
Post # 11
Thanks everyone! I really appreciate the advice. My body and eating habits are so out of whack at the moment, so I appreciate getting some pointers how to manage it! Thanks again! 🙂
Post # 12
Honestly, I had to start using an aid like melatonin. My husband was not on grave hours so on my off days I did have to flop.
I ultimately got a day shift position and I didn’t realize how run down and crappy I felt until I switched to days. Good luck, and really try to take care of your self.
Post # 13
I’m a nurse who works 12 hour days, so I don’t have any night-shift-specific advice, but I will just say that I’m pretty exhausted the day after work, too. Bedside/floor nursing for 12 hours is HARD physically and emotionally. Plus we all know 12 hour shifts tend to really mean 14 hours with drive-time, report, finishing up charting etc. Lots of good advice above specifically for coping with night shift, but I just wanted to say that I sympathize. Congrats on your new career!
Post # 14
I’ve been doing nights as a tech for almost 7 months on a busy med/surg floor. I never sleep on a “regular” schedule. On nights I don’t work I got to bed between 2am and 4am, then I get up around noon. If I’m working that night I try not to do too much before my shift. When I get off shift 99% of the time I go straight home and I’m in bed and asleep by 8am. Then I try to sleep until 2pm. I eat when I wake up, right before I leave, or on my way to work, then I eat a snack around midnight (protein bar, or granola) and then I take my break and eat at 2 am. Most of the other people roate their sleep schedules depending on what days they’re working and they have a lot harder time staying awake during shift and start to drag at midnight.
Post # 15
Also, try to exercise regularly. It helps my husband with sleep. Although his sleep is so jacked from rotating that he takes ambien.