Do you always dread working night shifts? I'm sure some nurses would love to have normal working hours if given the chance... but night shifts are a huge part of the medical community!
If you’re a night shift nurse, don’t fret! With the right planning and strategy, you can deal with all the stresses that come with working night shifts like a total pro. Here are some tips you might want to follow:
1.) Take a break:
When we say take a break we don't mean you should gorge on food and drink tons of coffee; try taking a quick nap or a few minutes of body stretching. You can listen to a calming music or just stare at a relaxing view. A 20 – 30 minute break is enough to power you up for the remaining half of your shift.
2.) Bring a positive attitude to work: Graveyard shifts can sometimes be cruel especially if you are not able to sleep well during the day. Instead of complaining that you can’t join your friends for a night out, you can always choose to find the brighter side of your work. Smile and always think that you’re saving the world! Well, not literally, but you are actually helping people everyday!
3.) Exercise: Don’t take your body for granted. Workout, do yoga or meditate for a few minutes before going to work. These stress-busting activities will definitely fire you up and awaken your senses. You can workout at any given time of the day, and being assigned on a night shift is not a valid reason why you can’t sweat out.
4.) Eat healthy: Ok so this might sound a little like your mom nagging you, but this is very true! Eating the right meal and snacks can help your body adjust to the evening routine and cope well with stress. Shift your eating habit, which means you eat breakfast in the afternoon, lunch at midnight and dinner in the morning. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water and limit your caffeine intake!
5.) Get plenty of sleep: You should have at least 7-8 hours of sleep everyday. When you get home from work, don't go to sleep immediately. Relax for a little while, watch TV or do housework. Your body will tell you when you're ready to sleep, and you'll probably sleep more relaxed. If you find it difficult to do, take a warm bath, cover your windows with thick curtains and make sure your room is sound proof. A well-rested body is vital for a productive night at work!
6.) Find ways to be productive during lean hours: A night shift can be full of dull moments and this can make for a very long night. To get rid of the monotony, find some productive things to do such as closely interacting with your patients or covering as many tasks as possible for the nurses in the morning shift.
7.) Prepare for your shift: Give yourself time to pack a meal and snacks. It is tempting when fatigue sets in to go to the vending machines for a sugary snack to boost your energy. Not only will you crash later, you sabotage your performance and metabolism for long term consequences.
8.) Monitor your health: Always make sure to stay on top of your health! Making sure to schedule regular appointments with your doctor can help you avoid some illnesses that are associated with working at night. If you feel like you are getting sick, make sure to stay on top of it!
9.) Wear dark sunglasses when leaving from work: It sounds silly, but Sunlight has the ability to reset your body to its normal daytime cycle. Wear sunglasses to minimize eye exposure to the sun and help you sleep well throughout the day.
10.) Always find time for your family: Family is important! Devote your day off with your spouse, kids or siblings. Make it a point to spend as much time as you can with your loved ones. Show up on a weekend night out with friends or surprise your family with a hearty dinner. These simple acts of kindness will keep you motivated to go back to work each night.
What tips would you add to this list?