Whether you are a day shift nurse or a night shift nurse, nursing, in general, can be hard round the clock – mental and physical challenges are almost the same. If you opt for a night shift travel nursing, you need to know that night shifts can be extremely tiring, affecting your sleeping pattern and concentration.
Staying healthy as a night shift nurse travel nurse should be your top priority. It is important to prepare yourself for night shifts. Effective preparation, healthy habits, and a planned sleeping schedule can make your night shifts worth it.
Let’s dive deeper into how to stay healthy as a night shift nurse.
Being a Night Shift Nurse: What’s it Like
Although the duties of day shift nurses and night shift nurses are almost the same, night shifts are usually more manageable. If I were to describe night shift nursing, I would say it is a high-paid manageable job that supports teamwork.
Day Shift nursing comparatively is chaotic as more and more patients require care. More doctors are on round and frequent testing and making charts is required.
On the other hand, night shift nursing is slower as most patients sleep at night, and there are fewer attendants. As a night shift nurse, you get more time to think independently and make urgent decisions. Also, the fewer the staff, the more opportunities to experience and learn.
Night Shift Nursing offers a flexible schedule. You work at night, and during the day, you have plenty of time to spend with your family, do other chores and attend classes. You can cut expensive childcare costs if you have kids while working as a night shift nurse.
Night shift nurses form an incredible team. While the patients are sleeping, you can spend time with your colleagues and learn from experienced staff.
The most important aspect is the wages of night shift nurses. Night shift nurses are paid a lot more than day shift nurses because a few people prefer this schedule.
Read more about the responsibilities of travel nursing.
Night Shift Nurses vs. Day Shift Nurses
A night shift travel nurse gets more ‘me time’ and a chance to make friends at the workplace, which is almost impossible for day shift nurses due to their hectic routine.
Night shift means more convenience; you can work at night and spend your day with your family and doing other chores, so yes, your life is much more manageable now.
Did you know that a person in the US spends over 54 hours a year in traffic? Well, good for you if you are a night shift nurse. You have a routine that is followed by a few people. Few people mean lesser traffic and lesser waste of time.
Night shift nursing comes with its bad, where day shifters spend more time in traffic and have a busier routine, cons of night shift nursing stay no behind. As a night shift nurse, you may suffer from sleep disorders and fatigue until your body gets used to the rhythm.
Most hospitals do not have cafeterias open at night. You will need to bring your food with you during these irregular routine hours.
A typical day of Day shift nurse starts at 7 in the morning and ends at 7.30 in the evening. Hospitals and care centers are noisier in the morning; nurses have a busier routine and learn more under senior doctors.
Also, as I said, humans are not functioning at night; day shift nurses get better sleep than night shift nurses. If you prefer a regular sleeping schedule, you better go for day shift nursing.
Survival Tips for Night Shift Nurses
Below are the handiest survival tips that will help you get through your night shifts.
- Stay Hydrated: even if you don’t feel thirsty, staying hydrated will help you keep your energy levels high. It also prevents fatigue and headaches.
- Healthy snacks: consume high protein meals, dried fruits, and shakes. Use less caffeine; caffeine can be addictive and works the same as sedatives.
- 8-9 hours of sleep: sleep at least 8 hours during the day and stick to this schedule even on your days off. This will help the body form a rhythm. I recommend you use a sleep mask as it comes with numerous benefits. Also, do not rely on sedatives.
- Do not switch directly to the night shift: our bodies take time to form a rhythm. Switching directly to the night shift may result in health issues.
- Make decisions only when you are alert: night shifts come with frequent fatigue. It is better to make decisions and do important tasks only when you are alert.
- Keep yourself organized: keeping yourself organized can reduce stress levels and make you more productive during your shift.
- Exercise: take time out for exercising. It will keep your energy levels up.
- Take a class: night shifts can be completely unexpected for you. It is better to take classes on “night shift nurses” so you know what to expect.
- Make friends: due to different working routines, you might have to lose hold of your previous social circle. The best you can do is make friends at your workplace.
- Monitor your health: it is necessary to know if night shift nursing is leaving a bad impact on your health. If you notice your health worsening, contact your physician immediately.
- Make most of your breaks: most hospitals allow nurses to nap during their shift. You are lucky if your hospital allows that too. Make most of your breaks and take power naps.
- Get some sunlight when you are not working: your routine may not allow you to sit under the morning sun, but when you have time, do sit under the sun as it boosts the immune system and helps you sleep better.
Find out more about travel nursing assignments in the US.
Pros and Cons of Night Shift Nursing
If you are still wondering if you want to start your career as a night shift travel nurse, here are some pros and cons to help you decide.
Pros of Night Shift Nursing
What is better than getting time for other tasks while you scrap a living? Nothing! Utilize your shift fully and make out time for other tasks. Also, there are fewer doctors on the round. Lesser doctors mean more self-reliance.
As a new night shift nurse, you will get more time to study patients’ health and learn under experienced health Professionals. You get to spend quality time with patients, and hence this task is not overwhelming.
What if I tell you the hospital management will be more willing to train you if you are a night shift nurse? Hospitals are quieter and have lesser staff at night, so you have many more chances to experience yourself than a day shift nurse.
The best part is that you get a variety of career experiences, and you can avoid work politics both at once.
Cons of Night Shift Nursing
Night duties mean inconsistent schedules and health risks in the short run or a long run. One is more likely to develop unhealthy habits. Think about it: lunch at 3 am, and dinner at 7 am? It seems weird, but it is what it is.
Night shift nursing can be a real challenge for your family and friends. Your social life is kinda destroyed as you spend your day sleeping and when you finally are free. Boom! It is time for a shift again until, of course, it is off.
Your weekends and days off become a real question. You don’t know if you should wake up early or sleep early or what.
Read more about the pros and cons of travel nursing here.
How to Sleep During the Day
I know that you want to jump to bed as soon as you get home, but sleeping during the day is tough. Your family, neighbors, friends, everyone is awake. Notifications will pop up on your phone, and you are likely to be disturbed by your family or neighbors now and then, even if they don’t want to.
Here is a sleeping pattern to keep you active during your shifts.
- Create an environment for a peaceful sleep. Hang blackout curtains and use an eye mask. Also, stress the importance of sleep to your family and friends.
- Don’t use caffeine at least 4 hours before sleeping. This is because too much caffeine dose can cause ineffective sleep, or you might not be able to sleep for any hours after you get home.
- Are you offered schedule breaks during your shift? If allowed, you can nap and keep your energy level high.
- Good nutrition and consistent hydration is the key to boosted energy levels.
- Got days off? Do not change your sleeping routine. Your body takes time for sleeping rhythms.
Mind it: getting 8-9 hours of undisturbed sleep is essential for your physical and mental health.
FAQs Related to Night Shift Nurses
Now, let’s switch to some of the most asked questions about night shift travel nursing.
Is Night Shift Travel Nursing Worth It?
Well, in my opinion, YES. If you are new to travel nursing, the night shift is a great choice. You are offered a good pay package, and this experience can be a lively kick for your career.
Over 15 million Americans work as night shifters. You can have the feel of freedom as there is less staff on duty. Also, if you are a night owl, you don’t need to think twice before accepting this job. You are the best fit for it.
When Should I Sleep for Night Shift?
The best you can do is take a nap right before the shift. In case you are an early bird by nature, nap more before the shift.
After the shift, prefer using an eye mask or sleep in a completely dark room, so the sun does not bother your sleep. You should follow the same procedure to prepare for bed; toothbrush, bath, and soft clothes you used to sleep at night.
Soundproof your room or use earplugs when sleeping. Keep a record of total sleep hours and find time during the day to exercise. Exercise improves sleep quality.
How Bad is Night Shift?
Do you know that working as a night shifter can increase your risk of depression by 42%?
Here are some other harms night shifts can do to your body:
- Increase the risk of workplace injury.
- Increased obesity.
- Disrupts body’s metabolism.
- Disrupts the body’s inner clock.
Make sure you take the necessary steps to avoid any health condition caused by the night shift.
How to Recover from Night Shift
Below are some super handy tips to help you recover from the night shift:
- Establish a healthy and better sleeping schedule. Sleep at least 8 hours.
- Make a cozy sleeping environment.
- Reduce caffeinated drinks.
- Avoid eating chocolate, cheese, beer, fatty foods, and spices before bed.
Your body may take time to recover. Extra care is the key to recovering quickly.
Opting for night shifts can very much depend on whether you are a night owl or an early bird. Now that you know how to stay healthy as a night shift travel nurse, make up your mind and enjoy your shift.
Don’t forget to monitor your health. Make friends there and be ready for the challenges you will face as a night shift nurse.