The night shift always get a bad rep, but unfortunately for nurses, it comes with the job. Most new nurses get stuck working nights until they can seniority. It can be a challenge to get used to.
Science says that registered nurses who worked in rotating shifts had a greater likelihood to die by cardiovascular disease and lung cancer than nurses who didn’t. And, quite frankly, sleep deprivation can turn make even someone who is happy as a lamb start foaming at the mouth like a rabid dog. Yet, working during the twilight hours doesn’t have to be the dreaded death sentence we all make it out to be though! In fact, working the night shift can be amusing and even relaxing at times.
Reasons Night Shift Nursing isn’t That Bad
1. More relaxed rules
In the night shift, you can get away with more than the daylight dwellers. After midnight, there’s no topic too taboo or NSFW, you are more likely to be allowed to fiddle around on your iPhone without getting busted, and there’s less running around on average.
2. It’s exciting
Sure, there are a lot of times when nursing during the night is calm—some might argue that it’s even boring. But, when it’s not all fun, games, and watching funny videos—it’s a paradoxical flip. High energy, adrenalin-pumping emergencies can strike at any moment.
3 . Co-worker comradery
When you’re working around fellow night-nurses, a sense of community gets formed that can’t compare to your daytime counterparts. You share openly with each other the way drunk girls bond in bathrooms, you understand one another’s cicadian rhythms, and can help each other out whenever you need a hand.
4. Solitude can be satisfying
When you’re on a nocturnal schedule, you find that you end up doing a lot of things at times that other people are asleep. This goes for laundry, grocery shopping, working out, etc. And, doing your everyday tasks as a party of 1 can seem sad or lonely. In reality, these tasks are actually much easier to do at later hours. Also, the empty hospital halls are much preferred to the chaotic sausage-casings that they are during the day.
Tips to Make it to Morning
1. Pack a snack
Instead of grubbing on food that won’t energize you or keep your waist slim, pack a nutritious lunch bento box style. Alternatively, “grazing”, or eating smaller, frequent meals works well during the night shift, too.
2. Get sleep smart
Obviously, sleep is a huge challenge in the world of a night nurse. So there’s a lot of special care that needs to go into catching those coveted 40 winks. For example, you need to cut out the natural light that might make your cicadian rhythm sound like the drumming of Animal from the Muppets. Install black out curtains, wear an eyemask, put your phone on silent, get as comfortable as possible, and even use ear plugs if you need to. When you’re waking up in the morning avoid the “snooze” button, too.
3. Care for your mental & physical health
It doesn’t matter how great you’re sleeping or eating if your mental and physical self is suffering. (Although, poor eating and sleeping habits make chances for depression increase significantly.) The night shift can make you feel sad with lack of sunlight so consider getting a lightbox and don’t shy away from building friendships with other employees.
Keeping active is essential to the well-being of a night shift employee as well. Stay active during your breaks to avoid crashing and burning around 4 a.m.
4. Plan your caffeine
Avoid drinking those cups of coffee on the second half of your shift or you might not be able to get good rest when you intend to go to sleep after you are done. Instead, plan to load up in the first half.