Few jobs in healthcare are as misunderstood as night shift nurses.
Their important contributions to the patients' well-being and the performance of the nursing teams are routinely undervalued.
Because night shift nurses are caring for patients while the rest of the world sleeps, it's reasonable that their efforts go unnoticed.
Few nurses, however, face greater difficulties and make greater sacrifices for their profession than those who work the night shift.
This guide is intended to keep night shift nurses healthy, well-rested, and ready to offer excellent care to their patients.
It is possible to enjoy time with family and pursue personal activities while working the night shift.
A Night Shift Nurse Duties
The most widespread assumption regarding night shift nurses is that everything is quiet.
Night shifts are actually equally as hectic as day shifts.
Because day shift nurses have such heavy workloads, they often delegate "less desirable" activities to the night shift nurses.
One of the ways the night shift is tougher than day and afternoon shifts is dealing with exhausted patients trying to sleep in an unfamiliar room.
Another drawback for night shift nurses is that they may not have access to resources like a full-service cafeteria or other support programs.
The amount of activity in many hospital departments, such as ICU and emergency rooms, does not fluctuate from shift to shift.
Nurses on the night shift devote a lot of their time attending to patient calls, ensuring the patients are clean, checking and replacing IV lines, as well as other nursing tasks.
Because night shifts include fewer nurses than other shifts, nurses who work at night rely on their nursing team for assistance.
As a result, night shift nurses are frequently kept occupied supporting other nurses over their quiet periods.
Night nurses try to ensure their patients get as much rest as possible throughout their shifts because rest is critical to their recovery.
Many reports say that patients are frequently fatigued, uneasy, and anxious in unfamiliar settings, making them grumpier than they are during different times of the day.
Sacrifices Made by Night Shift Nurses
Working through the night and resting throughout the day has physical and emotional consequences, which are aggravated by night nurses feeling excluded from work and social activities.
This is only one of the difficulties that night shift nurses encounter that their colleagues on other shifts do not.
The effects of prolonged sleep deprivation are the greatest hazard to the health of night shift nurses.
Leading a Hospital Night Shift Has Its Difficulties
Nurse leaders encounter unique challenges in keeping the night shift adequately staffed, ensuring safe practices, and making judgments about when to inform a doctor in the wee hours about a patient's state, in addition to dealing with chronically fatigued nursing staff.
Nurse leaders are responsible for ensuring that their departments function well and that their staff are engaged and progressing in their careers.
The Night Shift Nurse Sleep Cycle
Finding time to sleep is just one of the many challenges night shift nurses face aside from adopting a flexible schedule for meals, socializing, exercising, and other pastime activities.
A person's life suffers in all aspects if he or she does not get enough sleep.
Long-term night-shift work has been linked to an increased risk of certain chronic conditions.
Heart disease, ulceration, obesity, gastrointestinal and metabolic problems are among such illnesses.
Nurses Can Use These Tips and Tools to Survive the Night Shift
To avoid tiredness, burnout, and disease, night shift nurses must make an extra effort to get enough rest, diet, and exercise.
The night shift nursing ideas offered here can help individuals build healthy and relaxing routines that will allow them to be at their best both at work and at home.
How to Create a Restful Sleep Routine
Understanding the causes of sleep-related disorders and learning ways to help them maintain a healthy sleep schedule can assist nurses working the night shift in lowering their odds of developing chronic exhaustion and insomnia.
Many night shift nurses make the mistake of scheduling their sleep around their personal activities rather than vice versa.
Nurses must give up certain opportunities to connect with family and friends or participate in other favored activities in order to adhere to recommended sleep and wake periods.
Even so, one of the best methods for night shift nurses to be healthy and awake is to stick to a regular sleep pattern that ensures seven to eight hours of sleep.
Nurses should select a peaceful sleep space devoid of distractions to avoid the disruptions that are typical among those who sleep during the day.
It is beneficial for day sleepers to set a pre-sleep routine, limit caffeine, and keep the sleeping room at a pleasant temperature, just as it is for night sleepers.
In the hour or two before you want to sleep, engage in more peaceful, soothing activities.
Books, listening to relaxing music, or even meditation are all good options.
Similarly, avoid exercise, large meals, and flashing lights, including sources of blue light like phone screens and computers.
Blue lights not only inhibit melatonin, making it difficult to fall asleep, but they also reduce the quality of sleep you obtain.
Adopting to Being a Night Owl
Some night shift nurses stay up on their days off to avoid the "hangover" that arises when alternating between napping during the day while working and resting at night on their days off.
Nurses must stick to a healthy food and activity schedule.
To combat the "night shift hangover," a night shift nurse says she bundles her night shifts together and tries to exercise as much as possible before her shift so she can "experience the day."
She takes a "short nap" of a few hours the day following her last shift and then goes to bed early to be rested for the following day.
Research shows that most night shifts are typically less busy than day shifts since most patients are sleeping and there are no visitors around.
You can take advantage of your less busy shifts and get certified on ProMed.