Night Shift Nurses: 5 Tips to Work Effectively at Night

These days, health care is an urgent demand field that requires nurses to work 24/7. Therefore, the number of night shift nurses is also increasing rapidly. However, this role of nurses is challenging due to its working time. In this article, we explain what night shift nurses do, their advantages and disadvantages of this job as well as helpful tips to deal with the unusual schedule job. Here comes the major part!

night shift nurses
the number of night shift nurses is also increasing rapidly

 

1. What are night shift nurses?

 

In brief, night shift nurses are registered nurses (RN) who work overnight. Normally, night shift nurses follow their shift schedule, Workplace as well as complete their duties. 

1.1. Working schedule

 

There are three full-time schedules for night shift nurses to follow, which are:

  • 8-hour shifts: 5 days a week
  • 10-hour shifts: 4 days a week
  • 12-hour shifts: 3 days a week

Normally, the duration of a night shift is between 10 and 12 hours, just a few hospitals or medical facilities apply the 8 hours of shift work. 

 

1.2. Workplace

 

Night shift nurses often work in any care facility where patients can stay overnight. The most common workplaces for night shift nurses are hospitals, long-term care facilities, nursing homes, or private clinics. 

 

1.3. Responsibilities

 

On the whole, night shift nurses take the same duties as the day shift nurses. Their workloads can namely as providing patient care, administering medication, and taking care and explaining patients’ needs. However, the night shift work is more under-controlled than the day shift, because this is the time that patients are sleeping. Furthermore, the workflow is a little bit slower than normal, because they need to maintain a silent environment. Nevertheless, the overnight working hours can be a little challenging for the newbie nurses because it is a biological clock adjustment. 

 

2. What are the pros and cons of being night shift nurses?

 

2.1. Benefits of night shift nurses

 

First thing first, it can’t be denied that night shift nurses are well-paid for nurses. Although the salary varies among states, cities, and even genders, registered nurses who work overnight are getting a better salary than day shift nurses. 

>> See more: Nurses salary: How much do nurses earn?

Secondly, the night shift nurses don’t need to make as much physical contact with patients as the day shift nurse. Because this is the night shift, patients and their family members are in their beds, thus, the main activity for night shift nurses is taking care of the special patients only. Not having to deal with the crown is an ideal job for introvert nurses, honestly. 

Besides, one advantage of working in night shift is building up the team-mates. When nurses are not too busy with their patients, it is a good time to form an unbreakable relationship with other team members. 

As mentioned before, night shift nurses only need to provide their treatment to special, awake patients. Thus, this is a good time for nurses to have intimate professional relationships with them. You have more time to understand your patients, as well as their characteristics to find the best way to communicate and treat them.   

One additional advantage of being a night shift nurse is its flexibility in management. Although nurses are responsible and strictly follow the regulations, it is still more autonomy without the managers because they don’t work at night. In addition, there are a lot of unnecessary meetings and distractions when working on the day shift. If you prefer an independent personal life, a night shift nurse is a perfect career for you. 

Lastly, working as a night shift nurse provides you some extra benefits such as traffic jams, parking spaces, or long lines waiting in grocery and convenience stores.  

nclex night shift nurses
night shift nurses have more flexible time than day shift nurses

2.2. Drawbacks of night shift nurses’ job

 

There are a lot of benefits that you can take for granted from being a night shift nurse, however, we can’t skip the bad impacts. Because this is the night shift, the first drawback is quality of your sleep will be declined. Instead of spending 8 hours of sleep every night, you must sleep on other clocks. It leads to the threat of:

  • Slower reaction (this is an urgent situation that can bring you close to death)
  • Lower attention 
  • Anxiety and impatience 
  • Memory impairment
  • Poor decision-making

>> See more: Sleep Deprivation in Nursing 

Secondly, an emergency health risk is waiting for you if you continue working for a long time. For instance, you are at a higher level of diabetes type 2 and cardiovascular disease than other people. Working the night shift disrupts the metabolic cycles that govern your liver, pancreas, kidneys, and digestive tract. These abnormalities might be associated with gastrointestinal issues or serious metabolic diseases. As a result, switching to night breastfeeding is more difficult for your body. You may, however, relieve these symptoms by regularly monitoring your health and maintaining a good food and sleep schedule.

In addition, not everyone understands your duties. People often complain about unusual things. Thus, your night shift schedule is unrespected and they might not understand why you sleep when they awake and do their jobs. 

Lastly, a lot of the latest news you may miss due to your working schedule. However, if you don’t put much of your attention into the surroundings and gossip errant, it is not a big problem at all. 

 

3. What are the tips to survive nurse night shift hours?

 

Due to the dark side of night shift nurses, it must be some helpful tips for you to deal with it. In this article, we combine 5 ultimate tips for night shift nurses: 

 

3.1. Change your sleep schedule gradually

 

Changing your sleep schedule is one of the most challenging aspects of transitioning to night shift nurses. Working as night shift nurses will cause your natural circadian rhythm to be disrupted, so you’ll need to practice regulating it on a new schedule. Try going to bed and waking up 15 minutes later than usual around a month before your first night shift. Every day, add 15 minutes to your routine. Allowing your body to gradually adjust to this new schedule will prevent any serious physical or mental issues.

It may be tempting to sleep less in order to obtain more sunshine, but getting enough quality sleep is crucial to providing excellent patient care. Experts recommend that people from 18 to 64 should receive 7-9 hours of sleep every night, so prepare accordingly.

 

3.2. Put your mental health first

 

Night shift work has been shown to have a negative psychological impact on nurses, emphasizing the need of prioritizing your mental health. When you begin shift work, implementing a self-care practice can help you maintain a healthy state of mind. This might be exercise, yoga, meditation, or anything else that offers you joy and comfort. If adjusting to night shifts has a negative influence on your health, try speaking with a therapist or a trusted coworker to help you find a solution. Whether you work night or day shifts, taking care of yourself is a habit that all nurses should practice on a daily basis.

 

3.3. Eat more healthy food and stay hydrated

 

Healthy food is essential for everyone, but it is vital for overnight workers, especially night shift nurses. Maintain your health by eating a nutritious diet. When you are fatigued at work, avoid unhealthy snacks and instead consume a nutritious snack. It will offer you more energy and make you feel better.

Moreover, water is needed for night shift nurses too, especially for those who are required to walk constantly during their shift. This has the extra benefit of keeping you up and active by requiring frequent trips to the bathroom.

 

3.4. Wear colorful clothes

 

Do you know the fact that bright colors can help you stay awake and be more active? Choose brightly colored scrubs with interesting designs to keep your brain engaged during your shift. Your dress choice will also help your employees.

night shift nurses clothes
night shift nurses’ clothes suggestion

3.5. Avoid overused caffeine

 

Most people think that caffeine is a good awakening booster. However, it is not a good choice for your health. Our suggestion is to change your caffeine consumption to meet your work and sleep schedules. Avoid drinking coffee or soda in the early morning when your shift ends, since this may make falling asleep when you go home difficult. Instead, start your shift with a cup of coffee and gradually switch to nutritious, hydrating beverages as your shift progresses.

That’s all the information you should know about night shift nurses before making a decision for your career. We hope that this post is a useful guide for you to avoid the drawback of night shift working as well as help you build up a healthy and balanced routine in your life. If you are not confident about your nursing knowledge, you can take some NCLEX Practice Tests to score high on your license test!

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