The night shift can be challenging to your success at work and also to your ability to maintain physical and emotional health. Whether by design or by necessity, when nurses find themselves working the night shift, practicing these tips can help manage that well-deserved work-life balance:
- Sleep and eat well prior to your shift. After all, most "daytime people" come to work after a good night's sleep and a healthy breakfast!
- Before trying to go to sleep, allow end-of-day decompression time. "Daytime people" relax after work. You should too!
- If you must rotate shifts, do so in a forward fashion (days to evening, evenings to nights, and nights to days). This allows for better physical adjustment and is not as disruptive to your circadian rhythm.
- Don't lose your connection with family life. Remember, your family relies on you for more than your paycheck! Your nursing job, colleagues, and career come after your family – just like the "daytime people". As a night shifter, you also have an advantage. You can volunteer at your child's school or visit your significant other at work during the morning hours!
- Avoid excessive reliance on caffeine. This habit may get you by the occasional slump, but can become addictive and disruptive to your circadian rhythm. If you feel the need for a "rush", excuse yourself from your duties for a few minutes and take a fast walk. This will wake you up!
- Avoid intoxicants or medications to get to sleep. They alter your sleep architecture; thus making sleep less restful and possibly giving you a hangover with poor nursing performance. These vices are also habit forming!
- Use the morning hours after you get off from work for personal business. Run errands while you still have your wits about you and businesses are at their freshest level of service!
- Live on your day shift income. Don't rely on night shift differential to make ends meet. Plan your budget upon basic salary figures in the event of unexpected changes or disability. Use your night shift differential income for specific short-term purposes like: debt reduction, investment, or a vacation fund! Don't become dependent on the extra money night shift differential provides - you may never be able to go off nights (if you want to)!
- Have sleep-preparation rituals that promote good sleep patterns. Regularity of preparations, even the same go-to-sleep music, will flip your mind switch to, "I'm going to sleep now." Use a sleep mask, blackout curtains, ear plugs, or other sleep aids if necessary. Silence the telephone ringer so the "daytime people" don't bother your sleep. After all, you don’t bother theirs!
- People say, "Good Night" to you in the morning as you leave. Insist upon saying, "Good Morning," to maintain a better sense of balance!
Nurses, do you work the night shift? Please leave a comment sharing your tips.