6 Tips to Surviving the Dreaded Night Shift

Night shifts, night shifts, night shifts. The night shift is one task most healthcare professionals have to adapt to. In the wee hours of the night and the early morning, it can be tough to believe the sunrise will ever come. While lucrative to work, the night shift can be a unique thing to get used to and one that traveling medical professionals often have to tackle when the “new kid on the floor”, which, let’s face it, we almost always are!

1. Hydration is key

Like many other shifts, the night shift will be busy. Don’t get dehydrated and make the night seem even longer. Invest in a water bottle you love, and make sure you’re tracking your water intake. Staying hydrated can keep you refreshed during your night shift, ensuring the absolute best care for your patients.

Dietitian Meridan Zerner states, “I’d love for people to be hydrated because the brain is 70% water. There is a link between being hydrated and cognitive performance.” Water is linked to brain power, more water equals higher cognitive performance. Also, you want to rule the floor not BE a patient on one. Fun fact? Dehydration results in OVER 500,000 hospitalizations yearly.

2. Sleep schedule musts

Working the night shift means sleeping at a different time of day and ensuring that sleep is restorative. Adjust your sleep schedule accordingly! If you work frequent night shifts (read: all of them) you will have an easier time adjusting your schedule.

Sleep Tip #1: The night before your night shift stay up very late , try to hit at least 3 a.m. Then sleep most of the day before you go into your night shift. Staying up late will ensure you will actually be tired enough to go to sleep during the day, saving up some energy for your upcoming night shift.

Sleep Tip #2: Take it easy on your eyes. Avoid staring at your phone or laptop when trying to fall asleep. Invest in some Blackout curtains, these will save your life when trying to sleep during the day. Do some light reading and snooze the day away champ.

Sleep Tip #3: Purchase a sleep mask and a white noise machine. Remember the rest of the world often does not work at night and if you’re in a hotel, apartment or even rental house, the sound of kids playing, a lawnmower or even the noisy gurgle of the nearby laundry machines can make your day of sleep a nightmare!

3. Use stimulants wisely

Caffeine is a great tool to use to enhance your alertness on the job. However, overdoing it on caffeine during your shift can prohibit you from sleeping during critical rest hours after your shift. Schedule the times of day in which you need caffeine to stay awake, and avoid caffeine consumption towards the end of your shift. Try to keep your intake under 3 cups during your shift and avoid sugary snacks that will cause you to crash hard after the initial spike. Cinnamon or mint gum (if allowed in your work environment) can be a great deterrent to falling asleep.

4. Find friends who also work the night shift

Fight the overwhelming feeling of FOMO (fear of missing out.) Find friends who run with the same schedule. Yes, you will still have friends who do fun things during regular times of the day, and you may possibly still get jealous, but hinder those jealous feelings with strategic schedule based friends.

“Having friends with similar schedules will help you stay connected to other people. On your days off, get together with other friends that work night shifts for dinner, movies and popcorn, etc. Just do it at night instead of during the morning.”- Nat Carmack, CPP, Contributor, LinkedIn.

5. Indulge in stress relieving activities

Working the night shift is no easy feat, hospitals aren’t known for being an overwhelmingly calming place to work. In a study conducted by CareerBuilder research found that 69% of healthcare industry workers say they feel “stressed” in their current jobs/professions. Reading, exercise (try an all-night gym!), plunging into Netflix to catch up on your favorite show and scheduling family plans and social activities during your days (and nights) off can all help to relieve the stress of burning the midnight oil.

6. Save Money

Did you know that matinees are cheaper? Also daytime menus at your favorite restaurants. Shopping, sightseeing, appointments are all easier to book in the morning or middle of the day. Relax knowing that you have your days (relatively free) to get certain activities done!

How do you survive the night shift? Triage traveling pros have their pick of amazing shifts in medical facilities all over the country! Ready to work with a company that values your time, seeks out jobs that match your preferences and handles your benefits and retirement while letting you see the world? Join Triage right now and get a free Beats by Dre pill!