Good evening ladies and gentlemen. How are you? How was the start of your week? Today I want to talk to you guys about my transition into working on the night shift *queue Night Shift by Jon Pardi*. Back in March, I got hired to work the 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. shift, but all my training was during the day. As the months went by, I was getting nervous about turning my life ~upside down~ and switching over to nights. Three shifts later, I can happily say I love night shift and everything about it. The dark side welcomed me with open arms and I fit right in.
As a lot of you know, I am not a morning person. Zero, zilch, never. No matter how much I sleep, I will be tired, fatigued, and in a bitchy mood all day long if I have to wake up before dawn (before 10:00 a.m. if we’re being honest). Night shift had to be for me. Although I thought this, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t nervous to actually switch over. Usually when I stay up all night, I’m downing vodka Redbulls and listening to loud music. If I can do it drunk, I can do it sober, right?
How I approach it:
The beauty of nursing is that we only work three, twelve-hour shifts each week. The days before I work, I try to sleep and rest as much as I can before getting up around 5:00 p.m. to get ready for my shift. I have my good ole cup of coffee and head into work by seven. I’ve noticed that I’m more awake throughout these shifts than I was during my day shifts. My preceptor during the days knew I wasn’t fully awake until about 10-11 a.m.; I was in full-on zombie mode. I have no trouble staying up and being a good nurse throughout my night. I’m awake (alert and oriented too, lol) and ready to handle whatever the shift will throw at me.
When I get home in the morning, how I go about that day depends on whether or not I work again that night or if I’m off. If I’m working again, I’ll get home, have a quick breakfast, shower, and go right to sleep. I’ll sleep until about 5:00 p.m. and start the routine over again. If I’m not working that night, I’ll do the same thing when I get home, but only sleep until about 1:00 or 2:00 p.m. I force myself to be up throughout the day so I can go back into my normal sleeping schedule that night until I’m scheduled to go back into work.
I know I’ve only worked three overnight shifts, but I’ve gathered a few tips to help anyone transitioning over to the dark side to survive.
Drink coffee right before you go in. If you tend to get sleepy late at night, have another cup (or some shots of cafecito) at around 1:00 a.m. Surprisingly, I’ve been set with my one cup before my shift… the perks of being a night owl. Always have a jacket with you. Hospitals are cold to begin with, and they’re even colder at night. Try to chart before midnight. This will give you time to read up on your patients and be available incase something goes down. Make friends… the night-shift bond is like none other. Prioritize who your sickest patients are- the ones who have scheduled meds and are the least stable. Make sure you’re on top of their care.
Eat, but not too much. You don’t want to snack all throughout the night and get sleepy or worse… gain weight. Sleep as much as you can the day before a shift, and don’t sleep that much the morning after a shift if you aren’t going back that night. I mentioned my sleeping routine above. Find what works for you and try to stick with it so you’re in as much of a routine as possible. Try working two or three nights in a row. I’d start with two and then work up to three. And lastly, enjoy it. Night shift is a different ball game and not many careers get to experience something like this. It’s challenging, but worth it.
To anyone starting night-shift soon, go for it with open arms (and eyes)! It’s totally doable and I personally love it. Take each shift day-by-day and form your routine. You’ll adjust sooner than you expect!