Some nurses love the night shift, and some prefer to work during the day. Whatever your feelings about it, at some point during your career you may face a stretch of night shifts. These tips will hopefully help you cope with adjusting to working the night shift.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleeping during the day can be difficult. The sun is out, businesses are open, and you have errands to run. However, getting eight hours of sleep is vital to keeping your energy up during the night shift. Make your bedroom as dark as possible to help adjust your circadian rhythm and try to stick to a set sleeping schedule, just as you would do if working a day shift.
Don’t skip meals because eating in the middle of the night feels odd, and don’t resort to vending machine food if the hospital cafeteria is closed. Keeping to a healthy diet is important for your energy levels and your brain function. Foods high in proteins and complex carbohydrates will give you energy boosts that last far longer than a caffeine or sugar rush. Bring healthy snacks with you from home, like raw nuts, fruit, or low-fat granola bars. Don’t forget to drink lots of water, too. Also, consider adding a vitamin D supplement to your diet. Many people are deficient in vitamin D and don’t even know it. And, since you’re not out in the sun getting your daily dose of this vital nutrient, your chances of being deficient are even greater.. Lack of Vitamin D can also impair your cognitive functions and cause a host of other problems, so it is worth adding this supplement to your daily routine.
Don’t avoid the gym because it’s closed when you’re awake. Find a gym that’s open 24 hours, or squeeze in a workout at home using, videos and home-gym equipment or weights. . Getting in a routine and making exercise a daily habit will help you be successful. Even just getting fifteen minutes of exercise can make a difference, and help keep you alert and awake during your shift. If you start feeling tired in the middle of your shift and have time to take a break, do a small amount of exercise to increase your heart rate and energize your body.
Make Time for Family and Friends
One drawback of the night shift is the potential for loneliness. Things happen for your family and friends during the day, and the night shift means you may miss them. Your friends and family, however, desire to remain connected with you as much as you do with them. Check your calendars and plan ahead so you can utilize the free time you do have, even if it’s only for a few hours each day. Also, be sure to make friends with the other night shift nurses. There may not be many of you working at the same time, but camaraderie can help during especially stressful moments. Additionally, they understand the unique difficulties and frustrations of being a night shift nurse and can offer empathy and solutions.
Remember to sleep, eat well, exercise, and engage with your family and friends. These four strategies can help you remain healthy, well-rested, and connected to the important people in your life, while keeping you at your best for the important work you do!
If you’re looking to advance in your nursing career and need a convenient online degree format to accommodate your overnight work schedule, consider an online nurse practitioner degree from Maryville University.