The Trials & Tribulations Of A Night Shift Nurse

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First & foremost - I am SO thankful that I have a job. Out of our graduating class of 38, a little less than half of us have found jobs (we graduated on December 12th). Having said that, I must admit I’m having a very difficult time adjusting to night shift. Working from 7pm until 7am just isn’t natural. My schedule for the next three months is work 3 nights in a row, have 4 days off. It’s a pretty nice schedule considering I have every weekend off & 4 days to recover. That will change once I’m done with my preceptorship.

For the most part the other night shift nurses have worked nights for years & they swear there’s no way they’d switch to days. Nights on a hospital floor are generally calmer, quieter, & less stressful than day shift. The doctors aren’t there, family usually goes home, & the patients don’t go off the floor for procedures. It’s a great setting to learn the ropes of being a hospital nurse…if you’re able to adjust to the schedule.

That’s where I’ve been unsuccessful so far. Quite frankly, I’m not sure what else I can do to fix it. I stay up late Monday night and sleep in late Tuesday to prepare for my first night. The first night is the easiest for me. Things start going downhill when I get home the next day.

I come home, eat a bowl of cereal, & turn on the news while I unwind. I like to be in bed by 9am. If I can fall asleep within an hour there’s a good chance I’ll get 6 – 7 hours of sleep. My bedroom windows have blankets over them to block the daytime sunlight & I use a white noise machine to drown out traffic.

As soon as I lay my head down I’m wide awake & my mind is racing. Before I know it, my alarm is going off & I’m lucky if I’ve gotten 2 – 3 hours of sleep. Do that two days in a row & it makes the third night pretty dreadful. I’m beginning to feel like I stay awake for three days & sleep for four. So I’m looking for suggestions & advice: how do you other night shifters do it?

shift work

Credit Image: clock close up via Shutterstock

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