Almost all nurses have either worked or will work the night shift at some point in their career. However, research shows that your health can be compromised working nights including an increase in accidents, absenteeism, focus and memory problems, ulcers, insulin resistance, heart disease, and mental health concerns, among others.
Here are five tips from our own clinical RN, Betsy Martin on how to stay healthy while working the night shift.
Modify your body clock
There are a few different ways to adjust your sleep schedule, but it comes with trial an error to find what works best for you. Some may find success by taking long naps the day before you work. You might also want to try staying up later at night and sleep in later on the days before your shift.
Consider having a meal by 8 pm and pack healthy snacks or a lighter meal to have between during your shift. Consider bringing foods with high protein, fruits and vegetables to keep you full and energized throughout your shift. On the contrary, you’ll want to avoid junk food – especially foods that are high in sugars to prevent the blood sugar crash later on!
It may be tempting to go for the energy drinks, but they are often loaded with unhealthy amounts of sugars and caffeine. Caffeine consumption at night can interrupt your sleep the next day. Coffee and tea with lower caffeine amounts are recommended. Of course, it essential to stay hydrated with water during your shift which will also help you stay awake.
Create a perfect day-time sleeping environment
Sleeping during the day can be the most challenging part of the night shift. Blackout curtains, white-noise machines, and a cool environment can help. You might also try adding a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door.
Take care of your mental health
It’s hard to be on a different schedule than the rest of the world. Make sure you set aside time to meet up with friends and family on off-days. Social connections are imperative for good mental health.
Regardless of what shift you work, it’s important to take care of your health. If you are not healthy, you are not be able to give the best patient care possible! For more information, tips, and tricks to being the best you while working nights, check out these other resources:
Mikayla Bankson is a Social Media Recruiter for the Nursing division of Aureus Medical Group.