How to Combat Night Shifts as a Working Nurse?

night shift

According to a study by Arlene Johnson in his Science Daily, night shift nurses are usually deprived of sleep. Johnson also observed that 56% of nurses, she has worked with were suffering sleep deprivation. She also says disruptions in a human body’s circadian rhythm may cause negative health effects and bad moods.

See also: Top 5 Reasons Not to Become a Nurse

So if you have to work nights, it is important for you to take control of your schedule and assure you get enough restful sleep. This can be achieved by knowing some important facts and taking precautionary actions like the ones mentioned below.

Working in Shifts

For night-shift nurses, especially for those working in 12-hour shifts, developing a decent sleep routine is hard. Even harder is the life of a rotational-shift nurse. They have to schedule their sleep during days when working night shifts and vice versa. Rotational shifts are also believed to increase gastrointestinal problems and heart diseases.

Sleeping Environment

The best thing you can do to adapt yourself to night shifts is to make sure you enjoy at least seven hours of sound sleep in every 24-hour period. A dark and cool bedroom helps your cause. You can also use a sleep mask or a blackout curtain to make it a better environment for sleep. Make sure your sleep schedule is the same on weekends and weekdays. Try to minimize sound disruptions by replacing them with ‘white noise’ like the noise of your fan. You can also use earplugs to stay away from daytime-activity noise at home. Avoid or control the use of alcohol, caffeine and nicotine which can worsen your sleep disruptions.

Work time Management

A human biological clock is naturally designed to stay awake during the day. You will be doing a lot of good to yourself by limiting your shift. Do no more than 4 12-hour shifts in a row. For a healthy routine, try to avoid overtime work as it will reduce your sleep time. Minimize exposure to sunlight when you are on the way home. As your work stretch comes to an end, have at least 48 hours off.

Take Control of your Schedule

In order to promote maximum sleep, take control of your schedule. Never schedule an appointment in your usual sleep time. Ask your friends and family members not to disturb you during your sleep. This means you must not entertain a visit or even a call during these hours, other than emergency issues. Make sure you don’t get caught up with house activities that will prevent your sleep. Schedule them properly during your non-sleep hours.

Sleep deprivation also affects your healthy diet or physical exercises. So make sure you have them scheduled properly as well.

Home Care

Nurses also have their own families to take care of. Having small babies makes the life of a nurse even more challenging. It is well known than babies have to be taken care of throughout the day. But there are a few ideas you can consider too. Consider hiring a baby sitter once your baby has grown enough and if your presence is so importantly needed in your hospital. You can also plan things along with your husband so that he can chip in and assist you.   

Hospitals need the services of doctors and nurses 24 hours a day. There is no way a night shift nurse can excuse herself from her duties. However, it is very important for nurses to take care of themselves. The health and well-being of her patients largely depends on her own health and well-being. So stay fit and take good care of your patients.

If you are aware of any tips for the well-being of a night-shift nurse, please share them with us in the comment section below.