The Night Shift Nursing Survival Guide

The Night Shift Nursing Survival Guide

Lauren Diffendarfer

by Lauren Diffendarfer

Medical Educator

posted on Nov 20, 2015, at 9:41 pm

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Because without these tips, you just might not survive.

WE’RE JUST KIDDING – YOU WILL SURVIVE.
Regardless if you’re a first-timer on the night shift, or you’ve been managing to make it through every night shift for years. These tips will help you seriously own the the night shift with ease.

three night shift nurses sleeping at break table1. Schedule your sleep and meal times at least 24 hours before the night shift

Okay so you’re probably rolling your eyes at this point because you’re sick of hearing how important sleep is before your shift. The reality of actually sleeping during the day time before your shift isn’t very practical, as our bodies don’t particularly understand how to sleep eight hours during the daylight hours.

Because of this, you have to really schedule out your sleep even the night before your night
shift. Try staying up until at least 3 am the night before (hello movie marathon!) and sleeping the majority of the day before your shift, or you can choose to sleep until the late morning and take a nap before your shift if option one isn’t for you.

2. Be active the day before your shift

While this might seem counterintuitive, staying active and exercising the day before your shift is important for proper, feel-good mentally sane hormone release to get you through the night.

3. Bring healthy snacks and a reusable water bottle

Another eye-rolling and obvious tip, but an essential on our guide. The daytime nurses will have probably eaten many of the healthy and good snacks, so opt to BYOS (bring your own snacks) and bring a reusable water bottle to fill.

4. Resist the caffeine fix late in the shift

Don’t drink more than a cup or two of coffee in 24 hours, in the long run, caffeine is addictive and will disrupt your circadian rhythm more so than your temporary nightshift state. Also, try and avoid drinking caffeinated beverages during the second half of your shift, as that will surely keep you up long after your night shift is over.

5. Wear a digital watch

A night shift is the time when you are most likely to lose track of time, so wear a good digital watch and consider setting alarms. You’ll never miss a medication again!

6. Create your own “nighttime” for when you actually need it

At home, use earplugs, an eye mask and have curtains that make your room feel more like nighttime.

7. Ease into different shifts steadily

If you work shifts during all times of the days and nights, be most efficient and good to your body by slowly easing into shifts of the opposing times. For instance, if you work a day shift, work an evening shift next before taking on the night shift.

8. Bond with your co-workers

Even though it’s dark outside and the world around you is probably sleeping, you can still make friendships within the hospital! Your co-workers are working the night shift too, why not bond with them and make your work more enjoyable?

9. Stay busy

During the day shift, nurses are constantly busy with doctors, supervisors, kitchen staff and patients which can make the day shift feel quicker. To feel just as busy, try and get extra work done that could help out the busy day shift nurses, get organized, or spend more time with your patients who are actually awake.

10. Get a ride home if you need to

Okay this is the only tip that will actually determine your survival so listen carefully! Get a taxi or Uber home from work if you find yourself too tired to drive. You don’t want to end up back at the hospital being cared for.

As a nurse who works night shifts, we respect and applaud you! It’s so important that you look after yourself and learn to manage your health before, during and after your night shift.

About Lauren

Lauren works as the Medical Educator for the Disque Foundation and has worked closely with us since 2014. She is a full-time student pursuing a BS in Biology at Indiana University as a recipient of the Chick Evans Caddy Scholarship and hopes to attend medical school to become a physician in the future. She is certified in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, Basic Life Support, Advanced Cardiac Life Support and Pediatric Advanced Life Support, and she is also a certified Basic Life Support Instructor for the American Heart Association. She stays heavily involved with health care in and out of her local community, helping plan and coordinate Disque Foundation events, teaching lifesaving skills to the communities and organizations that we serve and volunteering at her hometown hospital in the Birthing Unit.

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  1. Pingback: How To Stay Awake During Your Night Shift - Wound Blog

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