Tips for Surviving the Night Shift

March 23 / Posted by Christi Hintz

The night shift is a necessary but disorienting part of working in health care. You can make it easier on yourself by doing a few key things during your shift. We’ve already covered some tips on how to take care of yourself while working night shift (check that out here) and this time we’re offering up some advice for getting through each shift. Whether you’re working the night shift for the first time or just looking for tips to make it go smoother this time, we hope that these ideas will help you enjoy your night shift assignments more.

Eat Right


We went over this a bit in the last article on this subject, but it bears repeating: eating heavy meals or junk food can make you feel lethargic. Skipping large meals in favor of snacking throughout the night can help you maintain the energy your body needs without weighing you down. Nuts, yogurt, cheese sticks, fruit, veggies, peanut butter, and deli meats are all great options to fuel you during the night shift. This also helps stave off an upset stomach that sometimes arises from staying up all night.

Stay Hydrated


It can be tricky to remember to drink water when you’re already tired and have a million other things to think about. But drinking water is very important, especially on the night shift! You don’t need dehydration slowing you down or wearing you out. Cold drinks are even better as they help wake you up. Try bringing a water bottle and keeping track of your water consumption throughout your shift.

Keep Moving


When all you want to do is lie down on a comfy couch, power through it! If you let yourself relax for too long you’ll likely start to feel drowsy, and it will be harder to keep your momentum. Many nurses have had success with exercising each day before their shift, as it wakes them up and gets them moving. Periodic stretches or exercise throughout your shift can help, too.


Keep Yourself Engaged


If you usually have down time in your department during night shift, keep some puzzles or a book on you. Choose something that will keep you engaged during the times when you are most likely to doze off.

Stop Drinking Caffeine Halfway Through Your Shift


Don’t sabotage yourself for your next shift! Make sure that you’re putting down your coffee about 6 hours before you leave your shift. This will ensure that your caffeine consumption isn’t getting in the way of effective sleep after work.

Don’t Be Afraid to Call a Taxi


According to the American Sleep Association, drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. We care about our travel nurses and we want them to return home safely! Don’t be afraid to call a cab or get a ride home with a coworker if you’re feeling drowsy.


Are you a night shift pro? What are your best tips for making it through the night shift? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, and help out your fellow travel nurses.


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