11 Night Shift Nurse Survival Tips
Combat the Night Shift Blues! Here are a few Tips on how to successfully tackle the “Dark Side” of Shift Life
1. MAKE A ROUTINE
Maintaining a normal schedule is very difficult on night shift. Finding your own routine can help! For me, after working my shift, I get home, shower, eat a light breakfast (dinner), put out my scrubs, wind down with Netflix, and try to be asleep by 9:30AM. Whatever your body needs, keeping your routine can help! 2. MEAL PREP
Plan ahead and prep your food for your shifts. The last thing you will want to do is grocery runs between shifts 3. HEALTHY “PICK ME UPS”
All night shifters have that “hit the wall hour” (usually 2-4am)
To help you combat the tired wave, a “PICK ME UP” can help.
Examples: a cup of tea, gum, a piece of dark chocolate, a packet of “Emergen-C”, sunflower seeds, avocado toast, apple & peanut-butter, Pirates Booty, etc. (something to look forward to!)
4. REALIZE THIS IS A LIFESTYLE CHANGE FOR YOU AND YOUR HOUSEHOLD.
Your family members or roommates will have to understand that they may be seeing less of you on certain days, and may need to work around your sleep and waking schedule – which you should post for them, by the way. Get everyone on board to make some adjustments, such as scheduling breakfasts or dinners together so you still have quality time.
5. SELF CARE
Recouping after night shifts is important! Sleep being the most important! Regular exercise, time with family & friends, pets, hobbies etc. (my personal favorites: date nights with my hubby, getting a good pump, mani & pedicure, blogging, plant mom life, hikes, horse time, brunch with girlfriends, traveling etc.) xoxo
6. TAKE BREAKS, EVEN NAPS IF ALLOWED
You’ve heard it before: don’t skip breaks or meals during your shift, and take advantage of designated rest areas. You need to care for yourself, and your patients are counting on you to stay sharp.
7. BOND FRIENDSHIPS WITH YOUR CO-WORKERS
One of the best ways to make it easier for you to serve your patients during the night is to have a smooth and friendly relationship with your colleagues. It definitely helps you to get less bored and tired. Moreover, you won’t feel hesitation to ask for help or to communicate about the patients. Besides all this, a good teamwork is required when it comes to healthcare and if you share a friendly bond with your co-workers, it will certainly reflect on your performance as a team. This way, you will be able to provide better service.
8. DON'T DRIVE DROWSY!
Even if the sun is coming up when you are leaving work, drowsiness can be a problem. If you feel drowsy, call a family member, a friend or a ride-share service. And don’t stop for drinks with friends as a way to unwind.
9. EAT WELL, STAY HYDRATED
To avoid gastrointestinal problems like nausea, bloating, constipation and heartburn, eat a full or nearly full meal just before your night shift. This mimics eating breakfast for those on the day shift. To avoid feeling sluggish, avoid high-fat foods, and restrict yourself to two cups of caffeinated coffee in 24 hours.
10. EAT BREAKFAST BEFORE SLEEPING
Once you get back to home, never commit a mistake of sleeping on empty stomach. This may even make the problems worse. Have a balanced and small breakfast before going to bed. Skip heavy meal as it may make you feel uncomfortable, and you may not be able to have a sound sleep. A smoothie filled with high protein, essential fats, and complex carb
11. LOOK AFTER YOURSELF
The key message, then, is look after yourself when you’re working night shifts and be aware of the likely impacts on your personal well-being. Be prepared and you’re likely to cope well and recover quicker.
Tori Meskin, BSN RNC-NIC is a registered nurse in Los Angeles & Orange County metropolitan area. Working in Level IV-II NICUs.
In addition to being a wife, daughter, & nurse, Tori is currently studying to become a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP). She has obtained her National Certification (NICU) and worked as a local traveler pursuing bedside experiences in several NICU settings.
Tori enjoys time with her new hubby, creating content, learning about new patient populations, riding horses, weekend beach or ski time, time with family & friends & sharing all of her life Tips along the way!
Follow her NICU & Lifestyle blog journey as she juggles married life, nurse life, & enjoying life’s adventures!