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Tips for the Night Shift

Flexibility with working hours is a desirable quality in nurses so that they can work either day or night shifts when needed. Those who are attending additional courses in the morning may choose the night shift. Working the night shift has some advantages like higher pay, slow pace of the work, close relationships with co-workers and an opportunity to be more self-reliant in the work. But it is not devoid of disadvantages – like the chances of missing out on promotions as the night shift workers are literally invisible to the daytime administrators. Those who are not used to the shift schedule will have to keep on avoiding falling asleep.

Here are a few tips to remain active during the night shifts:
  • Have a full meal before the shift and remember to carry snacks to ward off hunger in the night.
  • Get at least eight hours of sleep during the day. Although the pace of work during the night shift is slow, nurses cannot sleep in the shift as they need to give the same amount of attention to the patients as in the day shift.
  • Using a digital watch would be helpful to have a bright display of time in the night so that you do not miss out on the medication schedule of the patients. Keep looking at the bright display in the watch to remember the time.
  • After the shift, relax for some time before going off to sleep. It would be better to wait for the body to get into the track slowly rather than forcing sleep immediately.
  • Try to match the work schedule with the family as much as possible. Have time with kids, spouse and other family members so that you can have proper work-life balance. This will also give a sense of normalcy.
  • If you work in multiple shifts, have the shift change gradually. Start with the morning shift and then move to evening shift before taking up the night shift. This will help the body to adjust to the changes.
  • Since there is differential pay for night shifts, one tends to take up more of them. Use the extra money for unexpected things like illness or for paying back loans.
  • Use earplugs, eye masks and blind curtains to ensure that you sleep peacefully in the day time after the shift. This will help to create a night time effect so that the body can fall asleep and sustain the sleep for some time. Regular exercise would also help to have quality and quantity sleep.
  • Avoid having alcoholic drinks and sleeping pills to fall asleep after the shift. This will prevent the body from establishing a normal circadian rhythm which will affect the sleep pattern. Read a good book or listen to some soothing music that would allow your body to fall asleep naturally. Avoid doing activities that would stimulate you and keep you active.
  • Avoid having more than two cups of coffee in 24 hours. Caffeine helps to keep you active for sometime but it is addictive and may keep sleep at bay.
  • Increase your visibility to the day time administrators by coordinating night schedules and orientation programs. This will ensure that your work is noticed and that you do not lose on promotions.