Working the graveyard shift can be a tough adjustment, and you’ll want to make the shift gradually to help prevent sleep cycle problems. This is especially true for those in the healthcare field who face incredible stress each day. Adjusting to your new schedule can be difficult for many people. Fortunately, you can employ several techniques and strategies to make your transition to the night shift a much simpler endeavor. All it takes is a little adaptability and a willingness to adjust the way you view the world so that you can readily treat any patient no matter what the hour is.
1: ADJUST YOUR SLEEP SCHEDULE
Perhaps the most difficult thing to accomplish is retraining your body to sleep during the day and wake up at night. The fact of the matter is that you will not be able to operate at full capacity without getting a whole sleep cycle. Adults need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night, so taking steps to maximize your odds of doing so is vital. Try following these steps:
- Don’t put off going to bed.
- Establish a 7-to-9-hour block of time to serve as a curfew.
- Make sure you are nourished before bed.
- Avoid smoking or consuming alcohol.
- Make sure your bedroom is dark and quiet. Blackout curtains and sound dampening material can help.
- Tell your friends and family what your hours are to avoid poorly-timed calls and texts.
These steps can make getting to sleep a simpler task and make staying asleep even easier.
2: MAINTAIN HEALTHY DIETARY HABITS
Poor nutrition can negatively impact your energy levels and leave you struggling to stay energized through your shift. So, make sure that you are regularly consuming foods that provide genuine nutritional value instead of snacking on processed foods. Keep your meals light to avoid the tryptophan trap and avoid sugary or difficult-to-digest food. Also, be sure to keep hydrated, but do not over-hydrate before bed if you want to avoid late-night trips to the bathroom interrupting your sleep. Remember, sleep is critical for both physical and mental health.
3: TAKE NAPS
Your shift should not have you working non-stop without so much as a break. When working the late shift, you might find yourself needing a few more minutes of sleep. If that is the case, take advantage of your breaks to score a nap in the breakroom. Studies show that naps reinvigorate the brain, even if they are only 20 minutes long. With that in mind, be sure to set an alarm so that you do not oversleep, as this can negatively impact your job and leave you drowsy despite having rested. In many cases, naps are essential for late-night shifts so that you can make it through your duties.
4: CAFFEINATE RESPONSIBLY
Coffee has become a standard tool in staying awake throughout the day. We have all seen the ridiculously long line at Starbucks first thing in the morning as people clamor for their first dose of caffeine. However, caffeine can be equally harmful to you if not properly regulated. Studies show that caffeine takes effect around 20 minutes after consumption and that caffeine consumption should be halted 6 hours before sleep. Otherwise, the effects will have you awake when you are supposed to be asleep.
5: PLAN AHEAD
Working the night shift often leaves navigating your personal life much more difficult. An excellent way to combat this is to make plans with friends and family way in advance to avoid conflicts with work. It will also allow you to determine when to tend to more important matters such as doctor’s appointments and going to the DMV without impacting your schedule. Often, this will mean using your time off to accomplish everyday obligations since most facilities will be closed at the times you are generally awake.
6: WEAR A WATCH
While this might seem trite, it’s surprisingly important. You should always have a reliable method for telling time when you work odd hours. The most common tool is your cell phone; however, keeping a digital watch with bright lights on the face makes a reliable backup. High-quality watches will even allow you to set up alarms if your phone is low on battery, and the lights can serve as a slight jolt to the senses to keep you awake.
Working the night shift is an extremely difficult task. Finding people up to the job is even harder. If you are struggling to find nursing staff for the night shift, contact us at fidé to find the talent you need. We specialize in finding talented, qualified nursing staff and getting them to where they can best help others.