Our profession is known for working well into the night and until the wee hours of the morning. Inevitably, it can mess up our body’s circadian rhythm, alter our normal sleep cycle, and make it almost impossible to have a proper rest hour when we need it the most!
Surviving night shifts may be challenging, but the good news is there are things we can do to cope with it.
1. Create the Perfect Atmosphere for Sleep During the Day
Sleeping at least 8 hours during the day before the night shift can go a long way in helping us stay active and sharp during work. But how do we help ourselves get the quality sleep we need during the day?
We can trick our brain into believing it’s night time during the day. Using an eye mask, covering our windows with blackout curtains to block out the afternoon light, and using noise cancelling headsets to block out unwanted noises and distractions are some effective ways! Recreating the calm of night time can trick our brain into believing it’s night, so falling asleep gets a lot easier.
2. Stay Active
Typically, it takes time for the body and mind to adapt and regulate to the framework, but we must always try to stay active during night shifts. Try to keep your body in motion to stay alert at all times. Walk around the wards to check on patients or keep the hospital equipment in order. Moments of inactivity can increase chances of falling asleep while on duty so staying active can help counter this to some reasonable extent.
3. Bring Snacks
I bet we all get hungry working night shifts! Eating snacks help us stay awake and give the energy boost that we need. I personally like bringing fruits like bananas and apples, nuts, salad and granola bars.
When planning what snacks to bring, I suggest avoiding heavy meals or those difficult to digest. We don’t want to feel too heavy or bloated during work!
4. Take Caffeinated Drinks
Taking coffee or any other caffeinated drink is another way to get our mind active during the night. Note though that caffeine normally takes a while before it works and it stays in our system for hours. So take a cup of coffee at the beginning of the night and change to healthy liquids as work goes on. This way, we won’t have difficulty getting those zzz’s after our shift.
5. Stay Hydrated
As we stay active attending to patients and performing other medical responsibilities, we may find ourselves getting dehydrated. This may then lead to fatigue and headaches. So my fellow nurses, don’t forget to drink your H2O at regular intervals!
6. Bond with Co-Workers
We know that having a healthy relationship with co-workers contributes to a happy workplace. But it’s surely important when you need to survive the night shift! Interacting and collaborating with our work buddies definitely lessen stress and keep our shift in a light and happy mood.
7. Monitor your Health
Working night shifts can be detrimental to our health especially in the long run. People who often work through the night have an increased risk for high blood pressure, anxiety, gastrointestinal problems and diabetes, and we’re not an exemption. It’s essential that we keep a healthy lifestyle to combat these effects. Have regular check-ups. Take vitamins and prescribed medications if necessary.
We may feel that days are long when working the night shift but I’d be lying if I say that I hate them and they’re mundane. They can be fun and exciting, too! And using these tips will surely help us survive them. So go and conquer those shifts!
What are the tips above that you’ve already been doing? Let me know in the comments section!