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Nurse First News

Night Shift: How to Prepare Yourself

Posted March 13, 2016

The night shift can be difficult for a nurse. They must both work when many others are sleeping and fight the body’s natural urge to sleep during the night. A lack of energy can also be a problem when working this schedule. However, many nurses have successfully worked the night shift for decades and they love it. The key to transitioning to this shift is good preparation and the proper mindset.

Transition Slowly

Once you know you’ll be working nights start the transition immediately. Stay up as late as you can so you can start sleeping during the day. If your body does not get accustomed to sleeping during the day, then the first few days of your schedule will be a miserable experience.
Set a sleep schedule with no interruptions. Once you’ve started the shift it’s important to set a schedule. Make your schedule just like a day shift nurse, where you wake up, get ready, work, come home, accomplish things around the house, run errands, then go to sleep. Your schedule should be identical, except that you’re working at night instead of during the day. Also, be sure your sleep time is not disturbed. Make sure you minimize any possible interruptions such as cell phones, computers, or televisions.

Find Ways to Relax

Some days are going to be difficult to fall asleep. Find ways to relax such as a warm bath or yoga. Find an activity that truly relaxes you so you can fall asleep for 8 hours.

Do Not Drink Alcohol

Many people think that alcohol can help you fall asleep but it can actually have negative effects. Alcohol interrupts your sleep so that you wake up just as tired as when you fell asleep.

Find Ways to Boost Your Energy

While working, there will be times that your energy is low. Soda and coffee may sound like the best tool for the job, but they are not. Eat whole grains, proteins, nuts, dried fruits, or yogurt. These foods help keep the body energized.

Drink Water

Hydration is very important for the body. Drinking lots of water keeps the body hydrated and your energy up.

Use Your Free Time Wisely

Just like all nurses, it’s important to use your free time wisely. However, the last thing a night shift nurse should do is use their free time to sleep. Sleeping during you’re free time can wreak havoc on your bodies internal clock and make you feel like you do not have a life outside of work. Use your free time on fun activities such as a hobby or spending time with friends or family.


By following the tips above you should be able to transition to the night shift more easily. For further recommendations, make sure you consult your fellow team members. I’m sure they have a lot of good advice that will aid during the transition from days to nights.

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