9 Life Hacks for Night Nurses That Can Help You Through Your Shift
Updated: Dec 13, 2019
The nature of a nurse’s job is to care for others. With their hectic schedule and the quality of a nurses job, sometimes you forget to take care of yourself. For night nurses, this is especially true. It is totally true for all people who work late nights. This can take a toll on you physically and also mentally.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, shift work can be linked to certain chronic illnesses. Long term night shift is associated with metabolic problems, heart disease, ulcers, gastro problems, obesity, and even cancer. Not getting enough sleep is found out to change metabolism and appetite, and studies have shown that shift workers have higher levels of triglycerides than people who work during the day.
What’s worse for nurses who have to change shifts will lead to irregular eating habits and poor diet. It increases the risk of metabolic problems. Some dangers of nurses having to work at night include: Sleepiness leads to slower reactions Less sleep interferes with decision making Working at night is against the natural biological body clock Judgment can be impaired because of tiredness As a night shift nurse, you need to learn how to cope with this type of shift work disorder.
That said, here are 7 life hacks for night nurses to help you survive the shift.
1. Adjust Your Internal Clock
At first, it would be hard to shift to working at night. What you need to do to adjust your clock is stay up late the night before your first night shift. If you have a hard time staying up at night, clean your house, wash your car, redecorate your living room.
Be creative! Find ways to stay awake in the evening. On the first night shift, try to sleep in the morning. After waking up do low energy activities which can calm you like taking a bath, reading a book or yoga. Night nurses should be able to do this without a hitch. This can start your week right.
2. Rotate Activities During Your Night Shift
Now, you have to rotate your activities at night to stay awake. You can do this while your patients are asleep. Things that you could do include: taking inventory of medical supplies, checking and organizing of travel bags, or cleaning the patient room. You do not need to keep a steady routine while doing your nursing duties, you can switch things up on M-W-F. Then you can switch back to your old method on the other days.
3. Move Around
When you feel tired, it is best to move around. Do some physical activities such as squats, stretching those tired muscles, or walking. Moving around will increase your metabolism, keep you alert, and get your blood flowing. So, when you feel tired, instead of sitting down and browsing through your Facebook feed, why not go through your Facebook while walking. If you are up to it, you can even walk down and up the stairs to also burn more calories.
4. Regulate Your Temperature
You can regulate your temperature by wearing layers of clothing. If you quickly get sleepy by cold temperature, keep yourself warm. If t is the other way around, keep yourself fresh during night shifts.
5. Drink 8 Glasses of Water Every Night
Keep yourself hydrated during your shift. Drink 8 glasses of water or at least close to 8. Water increases your energy level. It also will force you to move since you will have to go to the bathroom more often.
6. Eat snacks!
Healthy snacks! Eat! Eat! Eat! Make sure you choose healthy snacks packed with protein like nuts, grapes, hummus, and carrots, to name a few. You should avoid bananas and a turkey sandwich because they contain tryptophan which can make you sleepy.
7. Coffee to Keep You Awake
Coffee is a perfect solution to a sleepy evening. If you get exhausted, it is time to take in some caffeine. The hardest part of the night to stay awake is in between 3am - 5am. If you are not into coffee, you can take it only in between 3am-5am.
8. Wear Comfortable Clothing
Make sure that you wear comfortable clothing during your shift. To help with blood circulation and tired legs, you should wear cotton compression socks. They are soft, and they also help your tired legs. Cotton compression socks can even prevent varicose veins.
9. Once done, make sure you sleep at home!
After a tiring night at work, nurses like you should get a good rest. Create a bedtime routine that is effective and can help you sleep almost instantly. You need all the sleep you can get. Control room lighting, minimize noise inside the room. Darken the shades. You can use eye masks and even earplugs to help you reduce the distractions. If you wake up 2 or 3 hours earlier than your scheduled wake-up time, it’s okay. You can take a nap later in the day rather than forcing yourself to sleep again.