View Full Version : Working Nights

03-16-2007, 12:29 PM
OK, some of you know I've started working as an RN in a hospital. I got word that after my internship is over, I'm going to work nights. I knew I probably would be doing that, but oh well.

I want to know any strategies for working nights. How do you sleep during the day? Things like that.

I would really appreciate it!

03-16-2007, 12:52 PM
Congratulations!!! I have been working nights for 14 years, ever since I became a nurse. The night shift is the best. People who works nights are totally different from day people. I have always found that the people who works nights work together much more than days, usually because they are short staffed in some way. ;) I think you will really like nights. It's always less busy with bosses and managers and people like that.
My best advice is to try and keep the same schedule, even on the nights you are off. I don't think you have kids so this could be easy for you. Get a sleep mask, dark blinds and curtains. I have a window darkening shade in my kitchen and black curtains in all my rooms. I hope you are working 12 hours shifts so that you can enjoy more time off. But when you are off, still try to sleep in the day time. My best sleep is in the early morning, and late afternoon. If there will be noise in the day time when you are trying to sleep, try a sound machine or earplugs. Many times I've had to use ear plugs during the summer months or when construction was being done.
Don't drink alot of caffeine to soon before you plan on going to bed too so it doesn't keep you awake.
I should be sleeping now since I worked the last 2 nights and I'm back to work tonight at 7pm. I'm really bummed that we sprung ahead so early because I hate going to work when it's still light out:(
The best thing, if you can do it, is to totally reverse day and night. This is what I do since I have no kids yet. I am always up all night on my nights off. On the plus side, the supermarkets are practically empty when I go;)
Good luck to you in your new job. Please feel free to send me a PM if I can help you in anyway. :pixie: :pixie: :pixie: I'm going back to bed now:thumbsup:

03-16-2007, 01:24 PM
I've worked nights for ten years, and while it hasn't always been smooth sailing, the first four years weren't too difficult because I got a "night's sleep" during the day.

Problems started to arise when I had children. Three months after my first DD was born, my DW went back to work full time, so for the past six years, I've been getting only about 3 hours of sleep per work day. The first few years were managable, but I have to admit, since my second DD, now almost 3, was born, I've been awfully tired. Point is, that over time it wears you down.

On the bright side, DD1 is in Kindergarten, and within a year or two, DD2 will be joining her, and I will be going back to gettin sleep, full force!

Anyway, sorry for rambling. :(

One annoying thing I've noticed is that everyone seems to forget that you are awake all night while they are asleep. This is especially annoying if you have to work weekends, when people plan parties, cookouts, and road trips, and not only expect you to go, but also wonder why you are so tired.

I recall saying to my sister one October when she seemd to be peeved that I was hedging on the annual pumpkin picking trip, "Next time we go pumpkin picking, lets go at 2AM, because that's what time it is for me right now!" :pumpkin:

Not trying to put a damper on your new schedule, just wanted to give a head's up about some potential issues of night work. :moon:

Good Luck.:mickey:

03-16-2007, 01:40 PM
I am glad to hear that you are settling into your new career. I worked nights for 4 years and just recently switched back to days.
I have young children so working nights was pretty difficult for me, not to mention the fact that I am a morning person.
I think that the previous pster covered everything thatI can think of. The only other thing that I would add is to make sure that it is very cool while you sleep. That was the hardest part for me..I am here in Florida (and prior to that I was in Texas). I would wake up mid-afternoon dying of the heat and unable to go back to sleep!
Nights are a great for learning and getting comfortable at your job. (plus the shift diff is great too!)
Keep us up to date on your progress!


03-16-2007, 02:59 PM
My DH works steady nights. One thing to think about is turning off your phones as that can be quite disruptive.

Also pre-plan food strategy. If he doesn't eat something (most often cereal or toast or pb & J) before going to bed he wakes up feeling very icky a few hours later.

He also tends to often "split sleep" getting up around 4ish and having dinner etc with us then going for a nap later for an hour or so. Often tired & I will echo what DarthMacho mentioned. Family often won't "get" that 6pm is 6am etc for you.

03-16-2007, 04:05 PM
I've worked nights for 16 years. I do have kids so I don't get a lot of sleep either, averaging 5 hrs of frequently interupted sleep per workday. I try to only work 2 days in a row because of it. On my first night out, I am up at 7:30 in the morning to get the girls off to school (yea, they both go full days now!) and generally stay up all day - sometimes I will work in a nap when I can. I'm then up all night at work and get home around 8ish in the morning. I get the girls off to school again and get to bed around 9 - 9:30a and get up about 2:30 - 3p to get them off the bus and run around to get us dinner and head off to work again. Because I have a family, I don't keep to the same schedule as Stephanie - when I am off, I sleep at night. The avoiding caffeine suggestion is good but beware of drinking too much late in your shift regardless of whether it is caffeine-loaded or caffeine-free or you will be up visiting a potty instead of sleeping. Keep your room as dark and quiet as possible - turn off the phone if you can (I can't because of the kids) and let people know that you will be sleeping although they still most likely won't understand. My mom thinks I sleep too much at 5 hrs a day (yet she gets a full 8 hrs each night!). I agree with DarthMacho that sometimes you have to get firm with people and start to threaten to call and/or plan events for the middle of the night when they won't leave you be during the day. Good luck!

03-17-2007, 09:24 PM
Thanks everyone!

The director and I are trying to see what schedule I can handle, so we're trying for three in a row one week, then 2, off 2 and one. We'll see.

I have family and other things in my life (no kids, but my grandparents and really close friends) so I may try to have a few "regular" days.

Keep the ideas coming!

03-17-2007, 11:19 PM
One other thing I can think of - until your body gets used to it, you can become very sick to your stomach in the early morning hours. It happened to me, and it happens to most people who have started night shift on my floor. There's not too much you can do about it. Just be aware of it.

03-18-2007, 07:39 PM
Sick to your stomach? What might cause that?

03-21-2007, 01:38 AM
Night shift people are the best! Sometimes working nights is not so fun because you miss some daytime stuff with family, but your coworkers will probably be awesome. And I have found, if I don't get enough sleep, and I'm really tired around 4am or after, I also get feeling a little ill. Don't know why, but it can happen.

I try to work my shifts in a row as much as possible. I've worked my way up to doing Thur, Fri, Sat one week then Sun, Wed, Thur the next. Then I have a bunch of days off to feel like a "normal" person. What I typically do is stay up late the night before I go back to work, then sleep in as much as possible. Then, since I'm bound to wake up and have to eat, or walk the dog, I will also try napping in the afternoon. For example, tonight I am off, but I am working Wed and Thursday this week. So I will probably stay up till 3AM, sleep till noon if I'm lucky, walk the dog/eat some cereal, and be attempting to nap from 1:30pm till 4:45 on. It doesn't always work, but just laying there doing very little is better then running errands or something all afternoon. Then on Thursday I will probably be home by 8:30am (I run errands and sometimes hit the gym on the way home from work), and in bed ready to sleep by 9:30ish. And then I sleep till about 4:45 if I'm lucky. I sometimes use ear plugs, not the foam ones, the sticky, rubber like ones. I have somewhat dark curtains, but nothing fancy. My biggest problems are my dog because he likes to bark at strangers, and sometimes my hubby will work from home, and our house is to small for him to be somewhere in the house without me hearing him. On my first day off (like this coming Friday) I usually have to sleep (I will only stay awake for very important things!), but I try to stay up later than usual, say 10:30-11, and try to get up earlier, like 3 or so. It doesn't always happen. And then I will go to bed when hubby goes to bed...but he stays up late as a general rule...so we don't go to sleep till between 1 & 2 anyway. But I try to live like a "normal" person on my days off, so I don't miss stuff, like family get togethers, hanging out with friends, cheap afternoon movies, that sort of thing.
I know this was long, sorry! But I hope something helped.

03-21-2007, 05:18 AM
I’ve nearly always done shift work, early mornings, afternoons or nights. Nights are by far the hardest to get used to.
There has been some very good advice given here already, get into a routine, getting your bedroom dark enough to sleep (I just can’t use those eye sleeping masks), making sure people won’t call during “your bedtime” and turning the phone off (there is nothing worse than someone cold calling and trying to sell you something over the phone, especially if it is “your bedtime”).

I would just like to add one thing if it is possible for you to do. When setting your “sleep routine” listen to your body!
Some people find it easier to sleep as soon as they get in from work, others like to wait a couple of hours and then there are those who like to wake up and go straight to work so they stay up into the afternoon.
If you can find what your body wants to do, you will find it easier. This of course has to fit in with the rest of your life and is not always possible to do.

Best of luck.:thumbsup:

03-23-2007, 10:57 AM
Thanks everyone. All this info is making me less stressed about the big change.

These past few days I've been thankful for going to nights. Its been hectic and I don't like it. I'm hoping nights are a little better, at least the dr.s aren't coming in and writing orders every 2 min. Thats one of the biggest problems I have, and giving meds to 4 patients every hour.

Keep the help coming!