Being a nurse is awesome. The night shift is not. At least it’s not for me. Kudos to you straight night shifters…When I was a new graduate I started off by working 12 hour shifts in the ICU – a mix of day shifts and night shifts. It was either 0700-1930 or 1900 to 0730 – and I OFTEN switched back and forth a LOT. Having opposing sleep “schedules” within the SAME week sucks. Especially if you are a morning person like me! Anywho…now that I’m working in the PACU I work day shifts! Yay for me! I do however work some on call – which to you who don’t know…means you carry a pager overnight and you are paged for any emergencies that go on during the night. Well this past week I ended up pulling an all nighter..and while visiting with some nurses on the floor we were talking about how hard working nights is on your health. BOOM. Post inspiration! Sharing with you today a few tips that helped me survive (barely) while working overnighters..AND for recovering from them
That Night Shift Life…
1. Pack snacks focused on whole foods – I’m one of those that prefer to eat smaller meals throughout the day. ESPECIALLY while at work. I get waaaaayy too sleepy with a super full stomach. Sitting down at 3 am to eat a big meal would mean my coworkers finding me napping under the lounge table… Some of the things I would pack: chopped salads, scrambled eggs with veggies, oats with added protein powder and peanut butter, protein bars, smoothies, apples and peanut butter, almonds, wraps – these are just a few of the lunches I would pack!
2. Eat a good meal before heading into work! When I worked the night shift I always made sure to go to work with a good meal in my stomach! Seriously…you just DON’T know when you will get a break…if you will even get one! Hence the snacks – make some of them things you can munch from a pocket or a Shakeology you can shake up quick if needed.
3. Caffeine. Coffee is my bestie. But don’t drink too much! I would bring a travel mug with me on the way to work and then sip on it throughout the night. Every once in a while I would treat myself to Caribou on the way in (hello it was HAPPY HOUR = half price!) – but working a night shift does not give you an excuse to get a seven shot, triple whip, extra syrup sugar bomb…
4. Drink water and stay away from soda. It’s NOT easy to get all your water in when it’s a crazy night in the nurse life. So bring a water bottle with you and chug chug chug every chance you get. You will feel soooo much better. You’ll feel less of that night shift “hangover” when you wake up the next afternoon!
5. Break the soda habit. Seriously. It makes you feel bloated, thirstier and will give you a headache. For reals.
6. Don’t skip all of your workouts. You are going to be overly tired some days and its just NOT going to be worth it to stress yourself more by overdoing it in your workout! Try yoga or something relaxing. Go for a walk or shakeout run. Dance if that is your jam. (Pun intended) – but if you are TRULY exhausted take a rest day. Stressed body = weight gain = more tired = more likely to end up run down and sick. Just hit it hard on your days off!
7. Find a sleep routine that works for you! I would get home and crawl into bed. The end. Some people I worked with hit the gym right after work and then went to be. Some had breakfast. Oh and black out curtains are a necessity.
8. ONE SHIFT AT A TIME. This too shall pass. You got this!
Now your turn..Are you a night shifter? or Do you know someone that is? How do you survive? What are your tips to share?