As a traveling nurse, the constant adjustment from day shift to night and back again is tough. It requires a commitment to changes in your routine and personal life, which affects your sleep patterns, energy, decision-making, and personal health. Not to mention that once your circadian rhythm is messed up, your days off are essentially cut in half because it takes time to transition back into a different sleep schedule.
The good news is there are actionable ways to practice self-care and master all that comes with taking on the night shift. Here are some must-have apps, tips, and tools that can benefit travel nurses burning the midnight oil.
A Scheduling App
We’ll start with the obvious benefits of a scheduling app- sleep patterns. When your sleep pattern is constantly interrupted, the easiest way to ensure you’re getting enough REM time is to schedule your sleep. Block out hours on your schedule, set reminders on your phone, and notify those around you to help reduce distractions or interruptions.
Apps like ShiftLife Organizer or MyDuty – Nurse Calendar are designed for medical practitioners to help keep track of work schedules, manage day-to-day responsibilities, record hours, and even sync with other calendars for those who like everything all in one place.
A Fitness Tracker
A nice, sleek activity tracker will help you track your movement and stay encouraged by your progress. If you have to be working overnight, at least you can get your steps in! According to UCLA Health, engaging in a little bit of exercise is a way to fight off the inevitable 4am fatigue when nurses tend to feel the most drowsy and low on energy. It can be as simple as walking to the cafeteria or taking the stairs. Staying active with the help of a Fitbit, Apple Watch, or Galaxy Watch will help reboot energy levels while tackling your health goals. And while you’re at it, it’s never wrong to invest in a quality pair of tennis shoes made by nurses, for nurses.
An On-the-Go, Energy-Boosting Snack
Another way to help kick the 4am fatigue is to power up with some energy-boosting calories. The meals and snacks you choose throughout the night can impact your energy, stamina, and performance levels. It’s important to avoid crash-and-burn snacks high in sugar, but you know how to fuel yourself better than anyone else. So reach for something that will help you and make you happy, like jerky and string cheese, trail mix, or peanut butter energy bites.
A Handy, Pocket-Sized Reference
There are so many work-related apps to help travel nurses, and just installing a few of them immediately turns your phone into a pocket-size library. Nursing Central is a comprehensive database for nurses and students that houses detailed information about diseases, tests, and procedures. Medscape is where you can catch up on the latest medical news, clinical trials, and education. Unit Converter is, well, simply a handy unit conversion app that would benefit anyone to have on hand.
Are You Ready to Crush Your Next Night Shift?
Try to incorporate one or all of these night shift essentials into your work routine to fuel your mind and body. It will always be a challenge adjusting to shift changes as a travel nurse, but at least there are actionable ways to practice self-care and help you rock the night shift.