This isn’t uncommon for us nurses and other health care professionals.Whether we like it or not, there will come a time when we will have to work on a night shift. We know that this shift is hard and may take emotional and physical toll on the workers.
As someone who had been working night shifts for quite some time now, I have here some tips on how to survive and thrive on such a draining schedule.
1) Avoid too much caffeine (e.g. COFFEE). Yes, I know it sounds a little off. Since a lot of us usually resort to drinking coffee and energy drinks in order to stay awake during our shifts BUT this can lead to dependence and may further disrupt our body clock according to some research.
2) Relax after your shift. When you go home after your work, don’t force yourself to sleep. Relax for a while. Listen to some soothing music is also good. Gradually, your body will signal you that you are ready to go to sleep. By doing this, your sleep will be more peaceful.
3) Protect your sleep. – Try to adjust sleeping during the day. Protect you daytime sleep. Avoid disturbance like answering phone calls, responding to family member who ask you to do something is also a No No. Make it clear to your family or your housemates that it is important for you to get enough sleep during the day. Sleep deprivation can lead to over fatigue. Remember that a good eight-hour sleep is enough.
*Create a night time effect in your house. Close the windows, use a sleep mask, wear ear plugs. This will help in cheating your body that it is “night time”, the right time to sleep.
4) Eat a full meal before your shift. You need this to keep yourself energized and to keep your hunger at bay. Carry some snacks with you. It will help if you feel a bit hungry.
5) Don’t isolate yourself. I know it’s hard since we are working on reverse. We have different schedule than our family members and friends. Nevertheless, we must still try to spend some time with them as much as we can. This way, we can be in sync and feel a sense of normalcy.
6) If you are working multiple shifts, work gradually to the night shift. Don’t go from morning to night in a snap. Day shift to evening shift and then evening to night shift is the ideal way for our body to adjust to work timings. Bear in mind that we are only humans, our body isn’t something we can easily program.
7) Don’t depend on drinks or sleeping pills to put you to sleep. This will not help your body create a normal circadian rhythm and will just further disrupt will sleeping pattern.
We must bear in mind that as nurse, we must always be flexible in whatever shift we’d be assigned to. I know these are just a few tips, there may still be a lot more but what I had mentioned above will certainly be of help to all those who are working on night shifts.
Bring it on!
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