27 Survival and Work Balance Tips for Night Shift Nurses

It is not easy to work when everyone sleeps, in fact, it is quite challenging when someone needs to undertake critical tasks and responsibilities. Due to this, nurses are diagnosed with several life threatening diseases and health issues. In various researches, high levels of adverse health effects such as heart problem, gastrointestinal issues, cancer, musculoskeletal injuries are found in the night shift nurses. All this not only affects their overall health but also shows negative results in their performance. As a result, they are not able to deliver their best to the patients. Here are some pointers to ease the problems that are associated with the overnights shifts in the nursing profession.

Hope these will help the nurses to survive night shift nursing and to get over the harmful effects of working at night.

1. Sleep Schedule for Night Shift Nurses

So you can’t refuse to work at night as your patients need your assistance. Hence, what to do to minimize the detriment consequences that might occur due to it? A long and sound slumber can make things positive for you up to a great extent. A quality sleep must be your priority after coming back to home. Also, make sure that there should not be any kind of interruptions in between. Doing this, you won’t feel drowsy while working, in fact, you will become more active.

2. Wise Use of Caffeinated Products

No doubt caffeine is the best companion of those who are working overnight shifts. But it is must know about the harm of excessive dependence on it. More than 4 to 5 cups of it may lead to certain problems such as high blood pressure, increased rate of heart attacks, insomnia, indigestion and a lot more. Thus, you should be smart enough to not rely upon on it.

3. Healthier Meals and Snacks Choices

Food plays the most crucial role on how your body functions, even though, a healthy diet is neglected by most of the people. Unhealthy food has its own negative effects and when you are doing night shift nursing, the condition worsens. Thus, it is must for nurses like you to keep a track on a balanced diet. You can prefer healthier meal or snacks over fast-food or other easily available stuff. Try to opt for the eatables that provide energy but do not make you sleepy. Raw salads, fruits, nuts, and other meals comprising low fats, carbohydrates, and high protein. Smaller and frequents snacks will always be a smarter option. Have fruit juice and water to avoid dehydration, headache, and fatigue.

4. Keep Track of Your Health

While serving the patients, nurses often forget to take care of themselves, which is the first and foremost mistake that these professionals make. You should be responsible towards your own health first. Otherwise, it will be difficult for you to take care of your patients. You must go trough the pros and cons related to night shift practice and accordingly make a perfect plan to diminish its ill consequences on your body. Regular medical checkups, proper diet, and meditation should be a part of your routine life. Reports prove that the night workers are more prone to certain diseases and illnesses as compared to those who work during day hours.

5. A Bond of Friendship with Your Co-Workers

One of the best ways to make it easier for you to serve your patients during the night is to have a smooth and friendly relationship with your colleagues. It definitely helps you to get less bored and tired. Moreover, you won’t feel hesitation to ask for help or to communicate about the patients. Besides all this, a good teamwork is required when it comes to healthcare and if you share a friendly bond with your co-workers, it will certainly reflect on your performance as a team. This way, you will be able to provide better service.

6. Be Busy

Night shifts are often not as busy as day ones, as during daytime nurses have a lot to do, they have to communicate with doctors, patients, supervisors, co-workers. Due to this, shifts at night appear longer than they are. Thus, being busy you can get rid of the burnout you are facing. During this time, you can complete your pending paperwork, arrange the supplies, etc. Listening to soothing music is also a good option. Try avoiding the tasks that make you feel tired.

7. Plan a Healthy Balance on the Home Front

Nurses who work during night often undergo the feeling of being lonely or isolated. It is difficult for them to be in touch with their closed ones who have contradictory schedules. For instance, if you're a mother or a father, you need to make your kids understand why you are not available to tuck them in their beds at night. In order to maintain your relationships you can communicate with them through texts, phone calls or mails, sometimes a note or response may also work.

8. Exercise

Since you work during shifts, you are more vulnerable to several problems, like fatigue and drowsiness, as compared to day workers. Thus, it becomes difficult for you to stay active in the workplace. For this, you can engage yourself in some kind of physical activity such as instead of taking lift you can opt stairs, take a walk to the cafeteria etc.

9. Accommodate the Circadian Clock

A carcardinal clock can do a lot for you. It assists you to coordinate with the kind of environment you live in. This device can play a vital role in regulating your body temperature, heart rate, hormones and various other functions of the body. You can augment your chances of survival during the night just by having a good understanding of this clock. You can explore the various methods of how to address and trick circadian clock. It may improve your levels of sleep, mood, and alertness. It is one of the best working night shift tips.

10. Reach Safe at Home

According to a report, 20 percent of the car accidents and accidents that occur in general population are because of sleepy drivers who are not under any kind of alcoholic or drug trance. These results are shocking, and it mainly occurs due to drowsiness and fatigue. In order to get rid of this, many drivers turn on the radio and listen to the songs on high volume or let down the car windows. Many times these methods fail, so in order to overcome these failures you can opt carpooling, prefer your colleagues over driving in drowsy state. While traveling, keep talking to the driver. If possible, you can also opt for public transport, or if you are left with no option other than driving home on your own then in order to avoid such problems, you can adopt some defensive driving techniques.

11. Night-time Patients and Their Needs

There are some patients who may behave normally during the day, but their troubles increase with midnight hours. You can have a one-to-one conversation with them which is next to impossible during the daytime. This is the time when thy need someone the most as their families go to sleep at home. This could be a great opportunity for you to know your patients personally and have a good time with them. Meanwhile, it may happen that they become more friendly with you, which is definitely going to help you a lot when you serve them.

12. Balancing Beam

Balance is extremely important when you have to combat against such a hectic nurse work schedule and that too during the odd hours of a day. Try to stick to the same routine cycle everyday. Sleeping for the same number of hours everyday can be quite effective. Try to think positive that sleep is just a daily chore, which others do during some other part of the day. Try to prioritize things like food, health, sleep, family time, exercise, etc.

13. Keep Your Home Out of the Reach of Light

The mind gets stimulated by sunlight and so the body. Make your bedroom as dark as it is possible because then only you will be able to avoid to enter sunlight. Try to enhance the quality of your sleep as much as you can. You can also wear a smooth and comfortable eye-mask for better results.

14. Hobbies

There are certain activities in which you can engage yourself in order to keep your mind and body active during night working hours. If you have any of the hobbies like knitting, solving puzzles or games, reading or listening to the music, you can spare some time for them, if you have nothing to do in the hospital. These activities are very helpful in getting you out of the state of stress and boredom.

15. Regular Check-ups

As you know that your body is more prone to several health issues because of working during night hours. Thus you should be conscious towards your health. To keep track of if there is something wrong with your body or not you must go for a routine body check-up. In case, you are diagnosed with any illness, you may have time to find out the best option to get rid of it. Also, you won’t panic since you have sufficient time to sort the problem. So, being a night worker, it is must for you have regular medical and dental check-ups.

16. Accompany Co-Workers on Breaks

Try to accompany some of your colleagues when you go for breaks. Hospitals are of course not the safest place. If in some case you need to go somewhere alone, you must inform your co-workers about your whereabouts. Remember, it is always better to be on the safer side.

17. Smart Naps

Even after planning your schedule in a perfect way, sometimes you are not able to get your sleep done. A proper nap of about an hour before you start working can really help you to stay active throughout the day. Dozing for about 10 to 15 minutes is not a good idea as it may arise the desire to sleep more.

18. Sunglasses

When you are on the trip back to home from the clinical setting where you work, you should wear dark sunglasses. This will not let your eyes to get subjected to the bright morning light. Once your eyes come in contact with sunlight, it would be difficult for you to have a sound sleep. Thus it is the thing that you must take into consideration.

19. See a Doctor if Required

In case you are undergoing with some kind of health issue such as trouble sleeping, blood pressure, depression or drowsiness for a longer period and it seems that the problem is worsening day by day, then you must not delay and see a doctor as soon as it is possible. Moreover, you can discuss your problems with your specialist. He may suggest some preventive measures to ease the harmful effects of working at night. Don’t forget that before serving your patient at your best, your first and foremost responsibility is to take care of yourself. Then only, you will be able to provide them with efficient care and support.

20. Eat Low Glycemic Food

Mostly it is said that breakfast for a day should be heavy. But, in your case, you should avoid doing that. You must have a low glyemic breakfast. In fact, rather than eating 3 times a day, you should prefer eating every 3 hours. Small low glycemic meals with high nutritional value. Increased insulin resistance is a problem that is common among those who are working night as nurses. Thus, you must be aware of all the preventive measures that are needed to be undertaken to eliminate the rising problems up to a great extent.

21. Have Breakfast Before Sleeping

Once you get back to home, never commit a mistake of sleeping on empty stomach. This may even make the problems worse. Have a balanced and small breakfast before going to bed. Skip heavy meal as it may make you feel uncomfortable, and you may not be able to have a sound sleep. A smoothie filled with high protein, essential fats, and complex carbohydrates will be a perfect food item to have once after coming back from your workplace.

Staying awake on the job

Due to negative effects of working during night hours, it becomes even more difficult for the nurses to stay awake while doing their job.

Here are some instant tips for night shift nursing that may help you to combat this problem –

1. Light Exposure

Exposure to the light is a mood enhancing trick that can increase your ability to stay awake for a longer time. A bright light has a powerful effect on your eyes, brain, and body. When you feel sleepy try to stay in well-lit rooms, or you can also use a light box for better results.

2. Laugh

‘Laughter is the best medicine;’ this is something that we have grown up hearing. But apart from the enormous health benefits of laughter, it is also something that can help you stay awake in a night shift hospital. For this, you can watch some humorous videos whenever you are free from work. This will definitely give a boost to your energy.

3. Rosemary

Rosemary oil can do wonders when it comes to keeping someone awake. Some studies have proved that people who sniff oil of rosemary are more alert, relaxed and fresh as compare to others. Thus, it is something that can help you to survive during late nurse shift hours. You can keep a stash of this oil with you at your workplace. Avoid doing this, if you have some kind of allergy to rosemary.

4. Chewing gum

Your busy mouth can be quite helpful to keep your brain alert. Many studies have found that chewing gum can be quite effective to help you stay awake. It activates various parts of the brain and also improves circulation. Besides this, it can also fight against anxiety and other negative effects of working on the night shifts.

5. Water

Drink plenty of water, if you want to be alert during night shift job. Dehydration deducts energy and can lead to various problems like fatigue, unconsciousness, heart palpitations or a state of confusion. Water flushes waste matter from the body and shuttle nutritious elements such as carbohydrates and oxygen to the brain and other parts of the body. This may recharge your energy and makes you more alert while working the night shift, so keep sipping water during your working hours.

6. Deep Breaths

Taking deep breaths is a smart way of shuttling more oxygen to various parts of the body including the brain. It enhances your deducting energy levels and her you feel more energetic. Thus, whenever you feel sleepy, just breathe longer and deeper. Other than this, it also reduces anxiety which in turn makes your immune system strong and aids to keep your healthy.