Surviving Nightshift


First, let me just say I am no expert. However, I am a nightshift nurse and somehow manage to keep a somewhat normal life. Normal for me anyway. I do not always know what day of the week it is, sometimes I have dinner for breakfast and breakfast for dinner. And let us not forget OJ and vodka does mix well with a ham and cheese omelet. With all that being said let us continue on with MY personal advice, tips, and tricks!

1. Sleep. You have to get a good 6-8 hours of sleep in. Do I always do that? Absolutely not. So set a routine. Come home from work in the morning, shower, eat a good breakfast, maybe answer a few emails, watch a little TV then doze off. Take melatonin or a natural sleep aid if needed. Use a sleep mask or black-out curtains in your bedroom. And for Pete’s sake, turn off your cell-phone!

2. Exercise. Light exercise like yoga or stretching will help relax your muscles after being on your feet all night. It also helps center your energy and release tension in your body. My favorite pose to relax my back is the wall pose. The wall pose helps to restore posture and allows the mind and body to relax. You get your bum as close to the wall as possible, put your legs up to the wall and flex your toes back towards you. You will feel this stretch throughout your entire body. It helps with swollen feet by promoting drainage of excess fluid and helping with circulation.

3. Self-care. Pamper yourself. Give yourself a mini facial or soak in a hot bubble bath with some essential oils. Or do both!

4. Reading. Read a couple chapters in a book or your bible to help your mind unwind. Nurses can’t always leave things at work. Sometimes if you have a really hard shift once you get home you tend to nit-pick it to pieces. There are times I literally run through my entire shift in my head to make sure I did everything right. Did I miss something? Were my critical skills on point? Did I help my co-workers enough? So take your mind off of it by putting it into a great book.

5. Stay hydrated! Nurses notoriously get urinary tract infections! First off we tend to hold our bladder for almost the entire 12 hours and we do not drink enough water. Stop with the caffeine after midnight and switch to water. Dehydration from excessive caffeine can cause headaches, muscle pain, and urinary tract infections. All of these make you miserable and unable to sleep well.

6. Cluster your workdays. Another word if you are able, work your 3 twelve hour shifts together at the beginning of the first week of that two week period. Work your second 3, twelve-hour shifts at the end of the next week. If you play your cards right you end up with 6 or so days off in between. That is like a vacation every month!

7. Eat healthily. Avoid junk food. Fried, high-fat foods make your body sluggish. Fuel your body with antioxidants, foods rich in nutrients and vitamin C. Think fresh fruit, carrots, and hummus, almonds, a cheese stick, or soup. It is very convenient to stop and grab a burger on the way into work but then you are left feeling bloated and sluggish. Instead, fill your lunch box with things you can snack on through the night that will keep your body fueled without slowing you down!

8. DO NOT DISTURB! There is nothing worse than being in a deep sleep and in comes a kid just to tell you he is home from work. Might I add his schedule is posted on a calendar in your office and there was no reason for him to wake you. Tell your family VERY politely that you are off-limits for this set amount of time so unless the house is burning down or their arm has been cut off DO NOT DISTURB!

9. Most of all enjoy your job! If you are working a 12-hour shift, at night, and do not like it then find another job! People this is a hard shift and it will only be harder for you if you do not like where or who you are working with!

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