Are you a travel nurse that’s about to begin working the night shift? If so, it’s important to develop a strategy to stay on top of your game while the rest of the world is asleep.
We’ve created a list of tips to help you stay healthy and focused on the night shift. By using these tips, you’ll be focused, driven, and excelling on the night shift in no time!
1. Develop a Consistent Sleep Schedule
Being well-rested is the most important part of staying healthy and on your game on the night shift.
While it can be difficult for shift workers to maintain a stable sleeping schedule, try to be as consistent as possible. This will make falling asleep and waking up much easier, and reduce your chance of crashing while you’re awake.
Limit your use of electronics before bed and invest in blackout curtains to darken your room during the daytime.
Remaining open-minded about your new schedule will help you develop a routine that works. Once you’ve figured out which sleeping schedule works best for you, stick to it. Sleeping at irregular intervals will lead you to poor health, stress, and on-the-job-mistakes.
2. Only Use Your Bedroom for Sleeping
Do you use your bedroom for activities other than sleeping? If you’re someone that has trouble falling or staying asleep, you might need to find a new room for working, watching television, or using your laptop.
By using your bedroom exclusively for sleeping, you strengthen your brain’s association between “bedroom” and “sleep.” If you find yourself lying awake and struggling to fall asleep, try moving to another room and doing something else until you feel tired enough to try again.
3. Work Your Night Shifts Consecutively
If you can, try to schedule your night shifts consecutively. This will help you maintain a stable eating and sleeping routine, which will keep your energy levels high.
Working consecutive night shifts will also allow you to enjoy your days off, rather than spend them catching up on sleep.
4. Stay Hydrated
Due to the nature of the job, it can be difficult for healthcare professionals to stay hydrated. But drinking water is essential for maintaining your physical and mental health.
Bring a refillable water bottle with you and drink steadily throughout your shift — once you’re thirsty, a headache may be on the way.
5. Focus On Your Patients
While nighttime might be a quieter time in many hospital units, some patients require more care or assistance at night. With fewer visitors and distractions, take advantage of the quiet time to focus on your patients.
Paying more attention to detail and providing an extra level of care for your patients overnight is a great way to stay focused and show initiative on your team.
Physical exertion causes the body to release endorphins, which act as a natural energy boost. Staying fit and active will give you the energy you need to thrive on the night shift.
Studies show that just 10 minutes of light exercise will significantly increase your alertness. If you don’t have time to work out before your shift, there are ways to fit exercise into your work schedule. Lunges, wall-sits, and jogging up and down the stairs are great ways to stay active while you’re on the job.
7. Be Careful on Your Days Off
Although it may be tempting to change your schedule to suit your days off, be careful about disrupting your regular sleeping and meal schedules.
Staying awake for too long before starting your first night shift of the week will disrupt your internal clock, negatively affecting your energy levels. Eating at irregular intervals prevents your metabolism from functioning efficiently and optimally.
Do your best to maintain your routine. Your body will thank you later.
8. Eat Healthy Snacks During Your Shift
Snacking is a great way to stay energized over the course of a long night. However, it’s important to eat the right snacks.
Almonds and cashews are high in healthy fats and protein. Avocados are superfoods, which means they’re nutrient-dense and contain relatively few calories. Fruits and vegetables are low-calorie options with natural sugars and fiber.
Try to avoid snacks high in sodium and added sugar — they may give you a quick boost, but you’ll end up crashing hard.
9. Training and Education
There are lots of resources to help night shift workers thrive. Organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer online classes created by experts for professionals like you.
Night shift training offers in-depth strategies for your professional and personal life intended to maximize your performance and minimize your stress levels.
10. Make Time for Friends & Family
Most of the world works during the daytime, which makes socializing difficult for healthcare professionals who work nights. However, it’s important to spend time with friends and family.
Your social life greatly impacts your emotional well-being, which is closely tied to your physical and mental health. Avoid feeling isolated or lonely by making time for social interaction.
Maintaining your emotional well-being will help you provide better care for your patients and help you have a longer, happier career.
Now that you know how to stay on top of your night shift game, put it into practice!
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