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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

7 Killer Tips to Survive Night Shift Nursing

Night shift, sleep, nursing, clinical, hospital, nurse

 7 Killer Tips to Survive Night Shift Nursing

Working 12 hour shifts can be difficult on most days. It's even more difficult working those 12 hours at night. Since I'm the low man on the totem pole I know I'll most likely be stuck working night shift again for the first part of my career. I've had a couple clinicals now that were at night. Thankfully my classes at the time were online. 

Here are 7 tips that help me survive night shift nursing.

  1. Sleep: This should be first because it is that important. I hated how much I would have to fight off falling asleep between 2 am and 5 am. Once 5 am hit, the kitchen would start making bacon, doctors would begin to arrive, and I would wake up. In order to make myself sleepy again, I would wear a sleeping mask. I didn't take the time to put up black out curtains because (my apartment has concrete walls and I don't have curtains anyways) I knew this shift would be temporary. I knew I would be moving out of my apartment before I take a big girl job. If this is going to be long term though, you need to put up black out curtains.
  2. White Noise: Since I live next door to a construction zone (yay!) I needed something to drown out the noise of jackhammers. I turned my humidifier and fan on. I think an air purifier would be a good thing to turn on too. Sometimes if it was really loud I would listen to classical music. Chopin is a favorite of mine.
  3. Nausea: I've talked to a few others and have found that they too would get nauseous during their night shifts. Some people do, some people don't. I struggled with this big time. My body just really resented working nights. A lot of my lunches included rice, fried rice is easy to make and tastes great as leftovers. I always brought with me saltine crackers and ginger ale. I found that would help settle my sour stomach but I never did find a magical cure to it. Sometimes I used a little pepto-bismal when I returned home in the morning. Maybe if I ever worked nights longer than a few weeks at a time, my body would adjust.
  4. Keep Busy: It really depends on your patients how busy you are. Now I'm not wishing for all night nurses to have patients that are struggling and not sleeping. You hear me universe? Do NOT jinx these nurses. Anyways, I would keep busy doing other things in my downtime. I would clean out the fridge, straighten up the breakroom, sometimes work on homework. However, studying for school could definitely contribute to my sleepiness. I found that a lot of people like you if you clean up the breakroom/fridge. If you're working nights chances are you are new, so use that tip to leave a great impression of yourself on others.
  5. Eat Healthy: I hate seeing nurses eat junk food from the vending machine. Don't get me wrong, I eat junk food from time to time but I just hate it when you see some people do it nonstop. We're in the healthcare industry. We need to lead by example and take better care of ourselves. Bring nutritious snacks (not just night shift, day shift too!) Bananas were great for me because I was nauseous a lot. I'm a huge fan of apples (even better with peanut butter). Dark chocolate dusted almonds are great for when you're craving peanut m&ms. If you always pack a healthy lunch then you'll be forced to eat it (because our cafeteria was closed) and that means at least one of your meals that day was nutritious.
  6. Stay Hydrated: This is one of my biggest problems no matter if I'm night shift or day shift. I get too busy and forget to drink water. Heck, it doesn't even have to be water (although water is best) just try to stay hydrated. I can't tell you how many times I forget to drink and I end up with a horrible headache. I drank a lot of hot cocoa on my shifts. I hate coffee and my throat would be so sore. I drank a lot of hot cocoa or hot tea to try to soothe my sore throat.
  7. On the Ride Home: I always try to refill my water bottle before I leave and drink as much as I can on my way home. I also try to eat a granola bar or some sort of small snack on my drive home. I love this new Quacker soft baked cinnamon pecan bars. They have a lot of nutrients and taste amazing. This helped me to stay asleep. There's nothing worse than waking up in the middle of the day because you have to pee or you're hungry and then you cannot fall back asleep.
Now these are just my top problem areas. There are certainly more suggestions to consider when working night shift. I never dabbled into taking melatonin or other sleeping aids. Since I don't have any experience with them I didn't want to write about them.

What are some tricks you use during the night shift to survive? What do you do to stay awake? To go  asleep? To stay healthy? Leave a comment below or send me an email!!

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