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Surviving the Night Shift

Surviving the Night Shift

Megan Malugani | Monster Contributing Writer

Take Care of Your Body

Lots of workers use caffeine or sugar as pick-me-ups, Coburn says. Caffeine is an effective fatigue countermeasure, but it takes 20 to 35 minutes to improve a person’s alertness, and its effect may then last seven hours or more, he says. Some workers get hyped on caffeine and then go home and sedate themselves with a few beers to help them fall asleep. “Alcohol can help people fall asleep, but it will interfere with the quality of sleep,” he says, adding that the effects of the alcohol wear off before the caffeine, and the caffeine will further interfere with sleep quality.

Sugar isn’t a long-term answer to fatigue either, Coburn says. “A Snickers can give you added energy but you burn through it very quickly,” he says. “After the initial sugar high, your energy level drops below the level at which you started.”

Coburn says it’s easy to overdo it with either sugar or coffee. “If you drink too much coffee, you can get very jittery, and if you eat too many candy bars, you end up gaining a lot of weight,” he says.

Don’t Isolate Yourself

Shiftworkers often tell O’Connor that they feel “out of the loop” with what’s going on in their families’ and friends’ lives. “It’s very much a day-oriented society,” she says. Shiftworkers must work extra hard to maintain relationships when their schedules don’t match the schedules of their loved ones.

Even if it’s not face-to-face, constant communication is essential, Coburn adds. Beepers and cell phones help family members know “you’re not out of touch,” he says. Families can keep bulletin boards at home where parents and kids post notes and responses. And couples can plan dates at the end of long work stretches. “It’s important to have something to look forward to,” Coburn notes.

This article was originally published on Monster.com.

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  • Mommy_max50

    Victoria_simon

    over 4 years ago

    704 comments

    Luckily for me I do not have problems sleeping at any time what I miss is the day light interaction with my kids especially after school.

  • Dscf0899_max50

    obnurse92

    over 4 years ago

    20 comments

    Interesting article, I have worked night shift most of my 32 years in nursing and still find it hard at times. I have got to the point that most days I sleep well, in fact better than I do at night. I now do cut off the phone and run a fan to block out noise-my biggest proble is the isolation. My friends at work and I often are on opposite days, my husband is a day shifter all the way, and my other friends work Monday-Friday days--so isolation is a problem. I found that facebook and Yahoo is is a good way to keep up with what is going on and I call my family on my time. My husband and I do try to plan special times for when I am off.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Kay

    over 4 years ago

    154 comments

    Anyone who thinks that nurses get lunch breaks just doesn't know what the profession of nursing is. Anyone who thinks that any hospital would allow a nurse even to close his/her eyes for 10-15 minutes, even just looking like they were asleep, without firing them, doesn't know the profession of nursing. 11pm to 7 am is bearable, but nobody has offered that shift in years because hospitals can save money by making all nursing staff work 12 hours shifts, and 7 pm to 7 am is deadly. If you have that extra 2-3 hours in the evening to rest before going in at 11 pm, again, it's manageable, but without it, nobody can last long on nights. I've even asked hospitals to allow night nurses to use the residents' sleeping quarters in the mornings (after the residents are up and out of them and no longer need them) to sleep a couple of hours before driving home, because as a night nurse, I have never once failed to fall asleep while driving home the next morning after working all night. It is a dangerous dangerous thing to overlook the dangers of night nursing and sleep deprivation. Hospitals will never care about this health need of it's nurses. Organizations will always just say sleep on your lunch break or take a nap at work....and again, only people who have no clue what nursing is will say those things. It just goes to show you that the general public and not even nursing organizations like nursing link actually know or understand the work of nurses. So sad....

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    whistleblower10

    over 4 years ago

    2 comments

    prairie st johns in fargo north dakota will use sleeping on the job as a way to get rid you-it is misconduct-any other comments would be appreciated.

  • Medmonkey_max50

    mrbrownrn49

    over 4 years ago

    68 comments

    Snoozing on the job? Maybe on your lunch hour if you aren't on the clock. But I have never had the luxury of a nursing night shift where I could, or would, sleep. Otherwise this is sound advice for anyone on an off-shift.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    millke

    over 4 years ago

    2 comments

    Every hospital I have worked in would fire you on the spot if you were napping, even on your meal break. This extends to going to your car for a quick nap. I have been working nights for 22 years and in 6 different states.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    samaji

    over 4 years ago

    2 comments

    i am an RN but i am always afraid of night duty due to the fact that i always have malaria.This is really an eye opener. Nice article you may say.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    vagaines

    over 4 years ago

    2 comments

    I am an RN and I have been working nights for over 5 years but since I started working out about 4 months ago and eating a more well balance diet, I feel much better. Great article.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Emmatol

    over 4 years ago

    186 comments

    Very insightful and useful, I'll like to say that this is worth sharing because it offers practicable steps to coping as a night shift worker, I'm a RN and I've been on night-shift for the past 1 year undergoing a specialty course in Accident and Emergency. I hope every night shift worker finds this useful.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    WeekendWarriorATL

    over 4 years ago

    62 comments

    I tried night shift- Hated it. I am a day shift person all the way!

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    blackmon44

    over 4 years ago

    54 comments

    It's always been much easier for me to work at night than during the day, during the day it's so crowded at the hospital and at night it's less noisier and the atmosphere is more serene. What works for me is light eating and I take my vitamins especially B-Complex. I don't hardly drink coffee like the rest of them and I drink lots of water. I used to load up on energy drinks and that made things worse. I've also been taking chlorella, that seems to give me more energy too. But I try to get a nap before going in, if I don't I just make sure I take my vitamins and eat a snack or drink Ensure.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    bleslie2000

    over 4 years ago

    2 comments

    I am a night person, so working nights has always been easy for me. I've done it for 17 years now. I make it a routine to not let anyone interrupt my sleep. Phones on voicemail, friends and family are instructed to not visit during certain hours, but can alert me if an emergency develops. I also use what they call "white noise", a fan that runs only when I'm sleeping, but you can use other devices like the ones that make ocean noises, etc. Also I keep my meals regularly, just like I would if I'd work day, if it's a particularly busy shift, I always carry things like carrots, celery, or other finger foods that are nuitritious. Plus I try to drink alot of water, instead of soda. Hope some of these suggestions help nurses new to night shift or those who just aren't night owls. Thanks for recognizing night nurses.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    rentalnurse

    over 4 years ago

    6 comments

    I try to wk 3 nights together, I cant take benadryl so I take melatonin and it doesnt have the side effects. I can take a quarter of on and nap before my first night back and be awake and ready to go. Dont ya just hate the people who ring door bells and if that doesnt wk knock loudly, cant they get the hint. I did travel nursing for 8 yrs and stayed in hotels, the one I most frequented knew me and wouldnt dare knock, everyonce in a while a new employee would knock and i would have to set them straight.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    SUENURSE

    almost 5 years ago

    16 comments

    I have been working the 2230-0700 shift for four years now. Two years as a CNA and going to school full time then two years as a LPN. Its not any easier not going to school working the night shift. Believe me, my CNAs and I are convinced that a full moon directly affects the way residents sleep. I have worked in two different nursing homes the entire time. For the past two, it has been on a floor split between Alzheimer/Dementia residents and those needing extensive assistance with almost everything. No sit down time at all. Charting, comforting and passing meds becomes a real challenge. Sleep is something others always say to get but somehow forget to not call you on the days you are trying to sleep. Like others, I try to run a full gammet when I get home: clothes, dishes, bill paying as I am a single Mom.

  • Img_6872_max50

    feliciaann

    almost 5 years ago

    92 comments

    I can certainly empathize with the whole night shift funk. I did it for years as a CNA. I will do the occasional night shift when needed now but never full time again. I am hooked on 2nd shift because you don't have the uproar that 1st shift has and administration is gone halfway through the shift! WooHoo!!! Things are just a tad bit more chaotic when they are in the building.

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