Conquering the Night Shift as a Newbie Nurse

Many new nurses start their careers working the infamous night shift.  As a new nurse, making the transition to a night schedule was difficult. For instance, after I completed my 3-day stretch, I found it challenging to readjust to my normal schedule. Often times, I slept at least 2 of my scheduled off-days. Therefore, I was left with limited time to fulfill my responsibilities.  So, instead of complaining about my situation, I asked seasoned nurses on methods to successfully navigate my path. With a positive attitude and an open heart, I applied their recommendations. Within a few days of applying their advice, I felt more revitalized and productive.  Listed below are the recommendations that I was afforded. Hopefully, these tips will assist nurses struggling with their transition to a night schedule.

  • Sleep is imperative!           
      • Create a strict sleeping schedule that allows 7-8 hours of sleep.Without sleep you can’t function well!
        • While working, I must be in bed by 9 a.m. Before I go to bed, I must pack my work essentials and lunch. So when I stir from my bed, I am not stressed and ready for work.
      • Advise family and friends when it is okay to visit or call.
  • Devise a way to block out the light!
    • I use blackout curtains. They are energy efficient. Most importantly, they block the light.
  • Maintain your sleep wake schedule
    • While away from work, try to maintain your sleeping/-waking schedule.
      • Your body won’t have to adjust drastically when you return to work. 
  • Take care of your body!
    • Exercise regularly and eat healthy food choices
      • Working the night shift is not an excuse NOT to exercise
      • DO NOT eat junk food during your shift. Your body needs proper nourishment while working this grueling schedule.
  • Limit the caffeine!
    • Limit your caffeine consumption before and after your shift.
      • Too much caffeine before or after your shift can interfere with your sleeping schedule.

Hopefully, these recommendations will help you with your transition to a night schedule. I encourage you to share your thoughts and stories. I can’t wait to hear from you!