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Sleeping During the Day When You’re a Night Nurse

December 23rd, 2010 by – Marijke Durning

“You’re hired for night shift, you start next week.” Magic words if you are looking for a nursing job, but the term “night shift” may throw you for a loop at the same time. While some nurses thrive on working off shifts, others dread it. They can’t imagine what it’s like to live a “normal” life if they’re working midnight to eight, or a 12-hour shift overnight.

With some work at helping your body adjust, you may find working night shifts easier than you thought. Here are some tips that may help you adapt to the night-shift life:

Keep the night schedule

If you work full-time 8-hours shifts, try to maintain your day/night schedule on your days off. That means trying to sleep during the day and be up at night. This way, you’re not throwing your body’s clock upside down every time you have a day off and then when you go back to work.

Lay down the law

When nurses work nights, it’s not uncommon for family and friends (and neighbors and just about everyone else!) to not think twice about calling or visiting during the day – just when you are trying to get some sleep. While you may not want to seem rude or nasty, you have to lay down the law about when they may come over or call. After all, you don’t disturb them at three in the morning, do you?

Turn off the darned phone

One of the biggest thieves of day-time sleep is the phone. Whether it’s the friend who forgot that you worked last night or a store trying to sell something, the ring wakes you up. Of course, there are always exceptions and you must be available in certain cases, such as if you have young children. Perhaps a good solution for you is to have a cheap, separate cell phone that has no other use other than emergency contact. You can give this number to the one person who needs to have it and then keep on when you sleep, turning the other phone (or phones) off completely.

Invest in good bedding

You can’t sleep comfortably if you’re not comfortable. While it may seem to be a waste to spend more money for higher thread count sheets and luxurious pillows, but these things can make all the difference between tossing and turning and sinking into a deep sleep.

Buy room darkening blinds or drapes

Your body needs the dark to get into a deep sleep. Light prevents it. So just as you should have as good linens for your bed as you can afford, you should buy the best curtains you can to darken your room.

Wear sunglasses home

This may seem like an odd piece of advice, but if you leave the hospital with sunglasses, your eyes don’t get exposed to the bright sunlight that will waken your sleepy brain.

There are many other tips to help sleepy night nurses get the rest they need. Do you have any to add?

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Posted in Work-Life Balance

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only, and is intended as a supplement, not as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.