I have finally been able to switch over to night shift! YAY! This is a win for me, as I tend to be more of a night owl than a morning person. But there are a lot of people that have a hard time adjusting to nights. This post is going to be about what works for me to be functional on non work days, and everyone is different so I please keep that in mind when reading this article.
I am already naturally a night person so some of these things are much easier to me. To begin, I have skewed my schedule so that I am up until 0200-0300, and sleep until 1100-1200, typically 0300-1100. This sets me up to stay up to 0730 the next morning when I need to work.
Setting an alarm the next day after your last night shift and getting up to go for a walk or go do something active definitely helps you get over that feeling of being hit by a freight train.
I always wake up parched and with a mild headache, the getting up and moving helps with the headache, and a good glass of water and rehydrating all day helps with the parched feeling. However the parched feeling is not exclusive to nights for me, I am never drinking enough water when I am working, which is a personal issue and potentially the topic of another post ;). I enjoy my hot yoga, going for long walks outside, and some gym time. I get bored easily so I try to keep things varied, so I don’t burn out on one thing.
One thing I have also realized for me is caffeine. Oddly enough contrary to probably what almost every other nurse out there is going to say, I need to stay away from caffeine. It makes my sleep cycles really strange and too much of it actually exacerbates any anxiety I might have. So I have been weaning myself off of my caffeine, although it’s slow going, I definitely enjoy a cup of coffee every now and again (hey, don’t forget to feed the soul and do things that make you happy 🙂 ).
I am so tired by the time I get home and go to bed I don’t really need black out curtains, but a lot of people benefit from them. I used a throw blanket (which worked just as nicely) for a while, but then I find that for me it is extra difficult to get out of bed after having slept for my 4-6 hours, so I have left them behind for a brighter future (pun intended 😉 ).
I usually pass out and am sleeping for a solid 4 hours before I wake up, but if I have had a particularly trying or emotional night and am having trouble getting to or falling asleep, I have melatonin. I rarely use it, but it is rather reassuring to know that I have it should I ever need it. It is over the counter, but I spoke with my doctor about dosing before beginning to take it, so I would never recommend to take supplements without knowledge about what you’re doing.
Any other tips and tricks out there about working nights and sleeping during the day? I know I am still testing different things out to see what is going to work best for me, so this is a preliminary list of what works for me :).