Five essential tips for nurses to cope with night shift duty

The noble profession of nursing is not a typical 9 to 5 job where you have the luxury of spending the evenings in a better and effective way.  The service-minded attitude and helping tendency that gets into the nerves of a nurse helps in finding pleasure from serving patients and making a meaningful impact in a patient’s life rather than spending the evenings or other leisure hours in other activities.

In a majority of cases, nurses employed in a hospital or a dispensary will have to work in shifts, mostly rotational in nature – day shift, evening shift, night shift etc.  Some nurses opt for night shift exclusively while for others, it comes in rotation at periodic intervals.

While the nature of work is the same irrespective of the shift or timing a nurse opts to work in, the demands of work in the night is more challenging than the same in day shift or general shift.

The following tips might be of use to a nurse who has to work in night shifts.

  1. It is essential for any human being to have rest for a minimum of 7 hours in a day of 24 hours, or in other words, have sound sleep to allow rest to the body and the mind.  For a person working in night shift, it is imperative that he or she gets that minimum rest or sound sleep for a minimum of 7 hours in the day time.  You should have sound sleep in the morning time, so that you can be prepared to work in the night shift after complete rest in the morning hours.Follow the rituals of sleep or prepare yourself for a good sleep after the night’s work.  Darken the room, hear some good music that leads you to sleep, switch off the mobile or telephone ring so that you are not disturbed.If you do not have a good sleep, then you might not be able to work in the night shift again, and the hangover might continue, affecting your work in the shift.  The duty of the nurse requires more attention and any mistake due to hangover might have dire consequences at work spot, especially in connection with the treatment of patients.  Hence, a sound sleep is very essential for persons in this profession.
  2. Maintain a regular schedule for your activities, as you would otherwise do when working in a day shift.  Going to sleep immediately on return from duty, not getting adequate sleep for a prolonged period might not provide you adequate rest.  When working in day shifts, people do not go to sleep in the evening as soon as they come back from office.  They spend time with family, do some domestic work, relax themselves and then go to sleep.  You too should find time for relaxation, and other normal routine works.
  3. Some people might find it difficult to sleep in the morning hours, probably due to disturbance or other external problems.  In such cases, they might even resort to medications to get sleep.  This is not a healthy practice and might result in altering the sleep schedule.
  4. It is quite natural that, in order to fight sleep especially during working hours in the night shift, one resorts to caffeine or coffee at frequent intervals.  This might yield temporary results, but a prolonged habit of resorting to caffeine is not advisable.  For people working in night shifts, it is advisable not to get addicted to caffeine.  It would be nice if coffee consumption is reduced or avoided.
  5. Always try to maintain a balance and plan your activities in a systematic manner.  One might not be working completely in night shifts all along his or her career.  There will be shifts at periodic intervals.  Plan and schedule your shift changes in a methodical way.  Typically, there will be 3 types of shifts – day shift, evening shift and night shift.  When it comes to shift changes, you ensure that you have the shifts in a forward pattern.  In other words, if you are working in night shift this week and due for change to another shift, prefer the day shift, and not the evening shift.  Improper rotation of shifts will drastically alter the balance in your routines and might be very difficult to have control over.  Thus, it is better that shift rotations are done in a forward manner, which gives you better control over the routine schedules.

These simple tips might be of use to nurses who are to work in night shifts on rotation basis.

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