Do you always dread working night shifts? Nurses would love to have normal working hours if given the chance. But night shifts are part of our job, and we don’t have any choice but to suck it up and deal with it.
If you’re a night shift nurse, don’t fret. With the right planning and strategy, you can deal with all the stresses that come with working night shifts like a total pro. Here are some tips you might want to follow:
1. Take a Break
Taking a break does not always mean you should gorge on food and drink coffee; it can also be a quick nap or a few minutes of body stretching. You can listen to a calming music or just stare at a relaxing view. A 20 – 30 minute break is enough to power you up for the remaining half of your shift.
2. Always Bring a Positive Attitude at Work
Graveyard shift can sometimes be cruel especially if you haven’t slept well during the day. Instead of complaining that you can’t join your friends for a night out, you can always choose to find the brighter side of your work. Smile and always think that you’re saving the world. Well, not literally, but you are actually helping people find their way to happiness.
Don’t take your body for granted. Workout, do yoga or meditate for a few minutes before going to work. These stress-busting activities will definitely fire you up and awaken your senses. You can always workout at any given time of the day, and being assigned on a night shift isn’t a valid reason why you can’t sweat out.
4. Eat Healthy
This reminder sounds like your mom nagging but this is very true. Eating the right meal and snacks can help your body adjust to the evening routine and cope well with stress. Shift your eating habit, which means you eat breakfast in the afternoon, lunch at midnight and dinner in the morning. Don’t forget to take some hearty dose of fruit juices and concentrates for hydration and limit your caffeine intake.
5. Discipline Your Body to Sleep
You should have at least 7-8 hours of sleep in the morning. If you find it difficult to do, take a warm bath, cover your windows with thick curtains and make sure your room is sound proof. A well-rested body is vital for a productive night at work since your brain has the ability to function well.
6. Find Ways to be Productive During Lean Hours
A night shift is full of low key moments and this can make the night very long. To get rid of the monotony, find some productive things to do such as closely interacting with your patients or covering as many tasks as possible for the nurses in the morning shift.
7. Always Find Time for Your Family
Devote your day off with your spouse, kids or siblings. Make it a point to spend as much time as you can with your loved ones. Show up on a weekend night out with friends or surprise your family with a hearty dinner. These simple acts of kindness will keep you motivated to work.
8. Secure Bright Lighting
Make sure there’s enough illumination in your station. Being exposed to bright light coming from either the overhead lamps or a desk lamp has an alerting effect that helps you survive throughout the shift. Make sure that there is also enough light in the operation room or any other places where you need to be working at.
9. Wear Dark Sunglasses when Leaving from Work
Sunlight has the ability to reset your body to its normal daytime cycle. Wear sunglasses to minimize eye exposure to the sun and help you sleep well throughout the day.
10. Monitor Your Health
Always find time to consult a doctor for a full assessment of your health. This will help you avoid some illnesses that are associated with working at night like weight gain, high blood pressure, diabetes and insomnia.
11. Stay Hydrated
Keeping yourself hydrated is crucial, especially during night shifts. Drink plenty of water to keep your energy levels up and to avoid dehydration. Avoid relying solely on caffeinated beverages; instead, intersperse them with water or herbal teas to maintain optimal hydration.
12. Connect with Your Co-workers
Building a strong rapport with your fellow night shift nurses can make your work environment more enjoyable. Sharing experiences, providing support, and even sharing a laugh during breaks can greatly improve morale and make the long hours feel shorter.
13. Plan Your Meals Smartly
Plan and pack your meals for the night shift. Eating smaller, balanced meals throughout the shift can help maintain your energy levels and prevent sluggishness. Incorporate a mix of proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates to keep you fueled and focused.
14. Organize Your Tasks Efficiently
Make a plan for your night shift tasks. Prioritizing and organizing your duties can help you manage time effectively, reducing stress and increasing productivity. Having a checklist or a to-do list ensures that you don’t overlook any important tasks and can manage your workload more efficiently.
15. Utilize Relaxation Techniques
Incorporate relaxation techniques into your routine, such as deep breathing exercises or progressive muscle relaxation. These methods can be particularly useful during breaks to combat stress and fatigue. Even a few minutes of mindfulness or meditation can rejuvenate your mind and prepare you for the remainder of your shift.