The Nurses Guide to Surviving Night Shifts Like A Pro
The job of saving lives never sleeps. Whether you’re a night owl or not, chances are you’re going to have to work night shifts at some point, or even regularly, in your nursing and medical career.
While the overnight working hours may be less than ideal and take some getting used to, you can still own the night while staying healthy, refreshed, and delivering the best care to your patients. Check out our helpful guide below for some practical tips and tricks for surviving your next night shift like a pro!
Get Your Beauty Rest
One of the first things you’ll notice as you take on the night shift life is having your sleep schedule majorly disrupted. You’re now working into the late night hours while the rest of the world is peacefully asleep, and sleeping during the day when the world is abuzz. To best contend with having your daily routine switched up, make sleep a priority.
You’re going to want to arrive for shift well rested so you’re able to fully focus during the stretch of late night hours ahead. When you get home, get to bed! Easier said than done, we know. Especially when you’re having to fall asleep when it’s daylight outside. But adopting and maintaining a consistent sleep-wake schedule will make all the difference.
Here are some helpful tips for getting your beauty rest in despite the less than ideal schedule of a night shift nurse:
- Establish a set time to go to bed when you come home from work in the morning and stick to it
- Limit your use of phones and electronic devices right before going to sleep
- Invest in blackout blinds or curtains to minimize any bright light coming in
- Sleep with an eye mask for a little extra bedtime pampering to make sure you get your 8-hours of uninterrupted beauty sleep
- Use earplugs to cut out any noise disruptions
- Limit your caffeine intake
Establish A Routine
With your daily routine flipped around as a healthcare worker taking on night shifts, establishing a regular routine can go a long way in helping to add a sense of normalcy and order to the chaos. Once you’ve got your sleep schedule sorted out, schedule in time to do all of the other life things you need to deal with. Build in time to tackle chores, grocery shopping, meal prepping, etc., and be sure to schedule in time to relax, recharge, and maintain your social life, too. It can be super helpful to also take time to prepare everything to have you ready for your next shift ahead of time, so you don’t have to scramble. Pick out your favourite set of fresh scrubs, make sure your meals and snacks are ready to go, pack your work bag, and enjoy some peace of mind knowing you’re all set for work.
With the demands of night shift work life, it’s easy to be tempted to reach for convenience when it comes to food like grabbing fast food on the way in, indulging in a sugar high of baked treats, or running on caffeine to stay awake. Commit instead to eating healthy to maintain your nutritional and overall health. Your body will thank you on and off shift.
Eat foods that will help keep you focussed, alert and avoid energy crashes. Reach for healthy snacks like granola bars, fruits, veggies, nuts, high-protein and low-fat foods, while steering clear of refined sugars. And remember to stay hydrated.
Meal prepping can be a great way to make sure you’re continuing to eat healthy, while contending with your busy night shift schedule. Set aside an afternoon each week to put together some of your favourite nutritious home-cooked meals that you can package up to take with you on shift.
While on shift, you may find yourself succumbing to fatigue or restlessness. Get up and get your body moving. A walk around the ward or a quick stretch break can easily do the trick to fight off the fatigue and keep you alert for the rest of shift. When your shift is over, make time to get in some exercise and stay active. Heading to the gym, going for a hike or doing some yoga can all work wonders in keeping your mind and body healthy while working night shifts. It’s also a proven mood booster.
With these tips in mind, you’re sure to breeze through your next night shift like a pro!
And while you won’t be able to wear *actual* pj’s on night shift, we’ve definitely got the next best thing — ridiculously soft scrubs, underscrubs and jackets that feel as comfy as pj’s on to make working those late nights a dream!