You’ve officially taken your first step into the world of nursing by either starting or finishing your education at Marian College. At this point, if you’re just finishing your training, you’re probably wondering what to expect during a shift, especially if you’re hired to cover a shift after sundown. If you’re just beginning your training, it is great that you’ve begun your journey by researching and planning ahead, so welcome!
Although the responsibilities and duties are about the same for both morning shifts and evening shifts, the night shift introduces unique challenges, that as a nurse, you may have to overcome. As challenging as it may be sometimes, there is no greater reward than knowing you are helping others while practicing what you enjoy. We’ve picked up some of the best tips on how to survive the night shift as a nurse to help ease the transition. If there is anything that might help your thrive on your first day as a nurse, for either morning or night shift, it is to research and prepare.
Transitioning to Night Shift Nursing
1. Get Adequate Amount of Sleep During the Day
This is probably easier said than done. Working during night time not only may affect your sleeping pattern, but it may complicate getting any sleeping altogether. To help avoid experiencing sleep deprivation, we recommend preparing your body for this transition by creating an environment conducive for sleep. By using curtains to help create a relaxed setting and avoiding any distractions such as electronics, magazines or bells, you should be able to rest comfortably. Establishing new but healthy sleeping habits will help prevent any side effects to these sudden changes in your lifestyle. Having a necessary amount of sleep will benefit your personal health, performance and overall energy levels throughout these late nursing nights.
2. Have Small Portions and Snacks Throughout the Shift
Instead of having a large meal before your 12 hour nursing shift, believing it will help prevent any hunger, pack various snacks you can eat throughout the night. Things such as almonds, dried fruit, raw salads and vegetables will provide that “energy boost” you need to perform adequately throughout your shift.
Although hot coffee and donuts might sound like a good idea, the donuts usually aren’t. You might feel a sudden sugar-rush but with such intensity these foods might create at first, the crash is just as strong. Researching for recipes that are high-protein, complex carbohydrate, and low-fat foods might be a good place to start when preparing for long nights at the ward.
We’ve added some recipes on our Pinterest board for night shift meal prepping your way into super stamina and high-energy nursing.
3. Exercise or Get Active to Stay Alert
There will be a point in your shift were the fatigue and drowsiness might start to kick regardless to the coffee consumption you might’ve already had and your only resort is exercise. Staying active during your 12 hour shift is crucial to help you stay aware of any sudden emergencies and helping you perform as efficiently as possible. Some of the small exercise moves you can practice during your shifts are:
Climbing a set of stairs is a type of aerobic exercise that’s beneficial to your overall health. Not only will it help you survive your night shift but it will improve your breathing and help blood flow. Your body naturally releases painkillers to help alleviate tension when exercising, so climbing stairs will leave you feeling better.
Doing stretch exercises during a quick break will help reboot energy levels and leave you feeling refreshed.
Whether you’re preparing for your first night as a nurse or you’re considering becoming one, well-researched planning will help you adjust just fine. Everything will be worth it at the end when you realize how much of an impact you make in your patient’s life. Good luck on this new journey full of learning and opportunities.