Working the Night Shift as a Nurse? Here’s How You Can Stay Healthy and Alert

October 25, 2018   /   byHealthier Societies  / Categories :  Diet
Nurse and an elder

The responsibilities of a nurse working during the day are no different than that of a nurse that works at night. The graveyard shift, however, presents a unique challenge. Discover Nursing Australia says that staff members need to be present to accommodate unexpected medical emergencies during the wee hours. Night-shift nurses, therefore, should stay healthy and alert to do their jobs efficiently.

If you’re scheduled to work at night as a nurse, make sure you do the following to stay attentive and in good shape:

Get Enough Sleep

Working during ungodly hours disrupts your natural sleep pattern. Getting adequate amounts of sleep before the start of your shift, therefore, is crucial to functioning properly. You can obtain a sufficient amount of rest by creating an environment conducive for sleep. A few of the things you can do are:

  • Using ear plugs to keep daytime noises out
  • Wearing a sleep mask to prevent your eyes from sensing light
  • Making your bedroom as dark as possible with room-darkening curtains or shades

Don’t Depend Too Much on Coffee

Relying heavily on mugs of coffee to stay awake is one of the worst ways to set yourself up for an energy crash later in the shift. While drinking a lot of coffee may give you that boost of energy, you’ll likely run out of fuel a few hours later. Eventually, you won’t be able to keep your eyes open no matter how many cups you take.

If you need coffee, try just one cup later on in your shift as a last-minute, alertness-boosting aid. Alternatively, you can try these scientifically-backed ways to stay on your toes without the need to take in caffeine.

Make Healthier Meal Choices

The meals and snacks you choose during your graveyard shift have a significant effect on your stamina, energy and performance levels. Go for food items that give you energy, but do not cause a ‘crash-and-burn’ effect or sleepiness later in the shift.

Another option you can go with is to adopt a ‘grazing’ approach to eating. Instead of taking full meals, opt for lighter and more frequent meals by consuming small amounts of vegetables, fruits, nuts and salads.

Bond with Your Fellow Nurses

Graveyard nurse teams in hospitals are often tight-knit, which allows them to get to know each other better. If the night shift is becoming difficult to sit through, take the time to bond with your co-workers. Doing so makes the graveyard schedule easier to handle.

Perform Exercise Routines

Engaging in a bit of exercise is a great way to combat the feeling of fatigue. A few of the things you can do to stay active and reboot your energy levels are:

  • Dancing to a song in the break room
  • Climbing a set of stairs
  • Taking a walk to the cafeteria

These suggestions will help you survive (and perhaps thrive) as a night shift nurse. By applying these strategies, you can help prevent making unwanted medical errors and get things done quickly and correctly.

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