Managing The Night Shift: Tips For Nurses

Night shift nurses: Nursing is one of the most challenging jobs in society. Nurses have to deal with complex medical cases and hard-to-handle patients, grief, and stress. And if they have to go against the laws of nature, things can get even more tricky.

Night shift nurses have it harder than their daytime counterparts. Not only do they have to manage to stay awake, but they also have to manage their sleep pattern and still get personal stuff done during the limited time window that they have. It is even more challenging for fresh nursing school graduates who are trying to get accustomed to the profession from scratch. Nevertheless, if you’re struggling to make the most out of your time as a night shift nurse, listed below are a few tips that may help.

Use the time wisely to catch up on your studies

Many nurses continue their education alongside work. Continuing education enables them to progress in their career prospects and learn new skills and knowledge to enhance their nursing practice. Needless to say, the more you study and strengthen your credentials, the more likely you are to find higher-paying jobs in the field. For motivation, consider the difference in an RNvs BSN salarypackage or the amount of money an NP or DNP earns. Use your spare time on the night shift to upskill your practice.

Since the night shift workload is generally less than the day because patients are usually asleep, you’ll have ample time to catch up on coursework. Also, don’t pressure yourself into studying before your shift begins. It willexhaust you before your shift starts, and you won’t be able to focus properly on work.

Adjust your sleeping schedule

The human body is naturally programmed to stay awake during the day and sleep at night. However, night shift nurses need to take measures to get used to the opposite. It would be a good idea to start practicing a daytime sleeping routine. If you can prime yourself, managing the shift will be a whole lot easier.

Try and stay up late for a day or two and sleep as late as possible. This way, your body will begin to adjust to the new pattern, and you will slowly fall into the cycle of being a nightowl! Also, make necessary changes to your sleeping environment. For instance, ensure that your room is dark during the day and that there are fewer distractions. Creating a night-like ambiance will help you fall asleep faster during the day.

Try not to stay up too late in the morning after you return from your shift. It will make it extremely difficult to manage the next night’s duty. Try to squeeze in at least six to eight hours of sleep.

Don’t rely on coffee too much

The go-to option when trying to stay awake is almost always a copious amount of caffeine, usually in the form of multiple cups of coffee. Now, this isn’t a problem per se. However, developing a dependency on it can hamper your work as a nurse. Excessive caffeine can cause insomnia, restlessness, nausea, and other stomach-related problems. It may eventually impede your decision-making abilities and poorly affect your work.

Instead,it would be best to consume a balanced meal so that you get enough carbohydrates and energy to sustain you throughout the night. Carbs give you the energy to deal with a tiring work routine and are an essential part of just about any meal. Limit your coffee to just a reasonable amount of cups.

Make the most of your breaks

It’s understandable that you may be tired and want to lounge around, but don’t do that for too long. The night shift can get pretty dull, and the longer you laze around, the dullness is more likely to overwhelm you, leading you to become drowsy.

Instead, use your night breaks more productively. As we mentioned earlier, you can use them to catch up on academic work. Or consider reading books or socializing with other night staff or patients who are up. Or use them to complete record-keeping and other essential work-related tasks. All these things help sharpen the body and mind, helping you get back to a balanced state and ensuring that you are focused and fit to take on the rest of the day- or, in this case, night.

Healthy socialization

It’s always a good idea to draw on others for energy. Having good co-workers and friends can give you that necessary shot in the arm when you feel like you can’t handle the graveyard shift anymore. It’s always a great idea to socialize in the workplace. It breaks the monotony and gives you something to look forward to.
However, also note that people can hurt you. Toxic work environments can sap your strength and make you want to quit. As if it wasn’t bad enough that you had to work in the middle of the night, throw in the fact that you have to do so with people you don’t get along with, and you have a recipe for disaster!

If a few rounds of jokes help you get through the night, then there shouldn’t be a problem. Jokes and wit are known to stimulate the mind and make you sharper, a factor that can prove beneficial as a nurse in a high-stress environment.


Night shift nurses: Working the graveyard shift can be an incredibly dull affair. But a few simple tips can turn that around. Since the workload and stress are comparatively less, use these factors to your advantage. Consider using your time more efficiently to skill up your nursing practice- who knows, you may end up with a better-paying job. Try to get your body used to sleeping in the day and staying up all night. Adjust your sleeping environment accordingly and try to catch at least six to eight hours of sleep. Avoid guzzling too much caffeine and opt for healthy eating habits to stay energized all night instead. Use your break time to complete pending work and socializing instead of lazing around and falling asleep. By adhering to these tips, you’ll be able to manage the night shift successfully.

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