One of the toughest parts of working as a registered nurse is the long hours you’ll have to endure. The schedules that healthcare professionals of any kind are used to can be brutal and far more stressful than compared to jobs outside of the health sector. Working the night shift, especially for new nurses, can be a difficult adjustment to make. How can you make it through?
As humans, we are naturally programmed to sleep at night. If you don’t sleep at night, your body’s natural rhythm can be thrown off. Your body’s circadian rhythms help regulate your sleep/wake cycles. Stick to a sleep schedule that becomes a routine every single day while you are working the night shift. This system might include showering, brushing your teeth, and reading a book before you go to sleep. Once you become a registered nurse, you need to relax whenever you can.
Because you’re working the night shift, you’ll have to get some sleep when you’re not on-shift. Most of the time, your best chance to rest will be during the daylight hours when everyone else is going about their regular day. But since the sun will be up, it can disturb your precious sleep. The solution is to use blackout curtains, which can prevent excess sunlight from coming into your room.
Another way to ensure you get enough sleep is to silence your phone. Your family and friends won’t be able to wake you up before it’s time for you to get up. If you turn off your phone, be sure you have an alarm ready so you won’t oversleep!
Caffeine can be a useful source of energy for when you’re at work, keeping you alert and on your toes to help as many patients as you can. But at the same time, it can interfere with your ability to get some healthy sleep. When it gets close to your bedtime, stay away from anything caffeinated. Over-caffeinating can cause insomnia and dizziness, neither of which are conducive to recharging for your next shift as a registered nurse.
Chances are, the sun will be rising as you drive home. You’ll want to wear dark enough sunglasses to protect your eyes during your commute. Even at dawn, wearing sunglasses helps your body think it’s night time, meaning it’ll be easier to fall asleep once you get home.
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