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Mother Jones, RN 07-01-2007 06:48 PM

Working the Night Shift
I hate working the night shift. I bow before night shift nurses. You are made of steel. Please tell me the secret of working nights. How do you do it without burning yourself out?

MeghanMU 07-04-2007 05:54 PM

Night Shift
MJ- I love the night shift. I love the people that work it. I love the extra money. Also, I can not handle being awake before about 0900. I love not having admin there. I love the doctors not being in the way. I don't know how I do it. I know it can't be healthy. I have a feeling I'd work out more/ eat healthier on a more normal schedule. I drink lots of soda, and my colleagues all drink those dang energy drinks (I think they taste yucky....give me a Diet Pepsi). My parents say I was born at midnight, and my dad used to joke that when he got home from work ( around midnight) when I was a baby, I'd still be awake with my mom asleep on the couch watching the late late show. In high school, I could never quite make it to bed before 2330, even though I got up everyday at 0445 for swim practice. In college, I avoided any class before 10 when at all possible. I lobbied my dean of nursing to offer a 3-11 cllinical (didn't happen :mad:) I think some people are just night people. I couldn't do 5 "8's", it's too much time away from the "normal" world. But, with 3 "12's", I'm off more days than on, so I can rejoin the "normal" world much of the time. That wasn't a very coherent comment- but I said most of what I meant to say :confused:

KimRN 07-04-2007 06:08 PM


Originally Posted by Mother Jones, RN (Post 219)
I hate working the night shift. I bow before night shift nurses. You are made of steel. Please tell me the secret of working nights. How do you do it without burning yourself out?

First of all, at least in the ER, the night shift is the quietest shift. We don't have to deal with administration - as long as the unit is still standing when the day shift arrives everyone is happy.

We get much more money - it's almost ten dollars an hour more for where I work, if you work nights.

The night shift is closer because there are less of us. We know the nurses on the other floors. Our housekeepers are part of the unit. The floors will take a patient faster or we will hold a patient longer because (1)we can and (2) we know the nurses would not ask if they weren't swamped.

Finally, I AM a night person. Up until 0300 if my body clock is given its own way. Might as well get paid for being awake.

Also - I am cutting back to three nights a week. That is doable. Full time nights does not work for me.;)

POPT 07-04-2007 09:51 PM

I worked night shift for years. It is much quieter and the staff is closer than day shift. I loved it even though I am a lark by nature and can't sleep if the sun is shining.

I coped by making my bedroom as cold and dark as I could get it. I put heavy cardboard and a black shower curtain over my bedroom windows and cranked a window AC unit down low. When I got home from work I went straight to bed because I knew that if I stayed up for any amount of time I would be up all day. I lived on black coffee and still fell asleep at traffic lights on the way home. On my days off I tried to stick to my nightshift schedule as much as possible.

kate loving shenk 07-05-2007 03:20 PM

night shift
you all said it so well but here's an article i wrote about "circadian rhythm disturbance:"

Mother Jones, RN 07-05-2007 04:57 PM

Thanks for the link, Kate.


geenaRN 07-06-2007 01:39 AM

I never did sleep very well when I worked night shift. I'd sleep fitfully all day, wake up feeling like I hadn't slept at all, and then felt exhausted by the time 9pm came around, so I'd nap for an hour before going back to work and doing it all over again.

So the way I dealt with working night shift was to go to days :-)

Elocin22 07-09-2007 08:23 PM

I've worked nights for two years. I love it! There's a different atmosphere: your co-workers team up a little more and you have more autonomy. That and there are fewer "travels." I don't mind procedures in the room, but traveling with a vent is more work than I prefer to do. It gives me anxiety.

Anyway, I have a couple of rules for myself that I generally follow in regards to sleep and being well-rested:

1. No coffee after approx 2 AM. One morning I thought it would be a good idea to down 4 or 5 cups in about an hour and a half. Needless to say, I was up to pee about thirty times, and I was awake at 1 PM. No, not just awake briefly, but up for the day. Totally not acceptable. That's when I started noticing I would wake up too early on the days I had a cup of coffee on my drive drive home (thiry miles, ish). This bad habit was not made easier when my loving boyfriend painted me my very own mug to use at's great!

2. Go to bed by 0900 and get up no earlier than 1500 (usually 1600). I need my beauty rest, what can I say?).

Once or twice a week, I send the dog to daycare (he's way, way spoiled!) and zonk out. He sleeps pretty well w/ me on the other days. We were sleeping in the basement til' it flooded, which helps even more. The only other thing that disturbs my sleep is my boyfriend, who comes home and wants to cuddle and talk at noon. Seriously. I don't wake him up in the middle of the night to chat!

One more thing...I don't have kids yet. I imagine my routine will have to change a little once they are around. Totally not looking forward to that. I LOVE my sleep!

SusanTC 07-11-2007 12:26 PM

Night Owl
First of all, I'd like to say that 12 hours is only a half day for me:p

Seriously, my first job I worked 5 8's, from 11p to 7a and I felt like I was never awake AND I had a 5 year old. I hate to say, her kindergarten year is like a blur. I think you have to get used to it. 3 12's is definitely better, plus I never could work a 9-5 job. For all the reasons already mentioned-more pay, less administrators and docs getting in your way. Plus, night shift has such a comraderie, because you have to help each other out-there's nobody else around.

Now, with my current job, I can get woken up at 5am to go on a case and not get home until 8 or 9am the next morning. I'm not sure how I do it. Sometimes I'll cat nap in an empty ICU bed, but that is so weird to me...just because I'm around death doesn't mean I want to sleep where someone most likely died at some point.

I agree w/Nicole, I had a "no coffee after 2am" rule too. But I gave up coffee when I was pregnant and haven't gone back. So now I can get a buzz from decaf-those 10 mg of caffeine coursing through my veins seem to be enough now.

Jess 09-16-2007 04:36 PM

I'm a student nurse and I worked evenings during my second clinical and it was quite boring. It definitely is a lot quieter and less demanding, but I would pick days over evenings anytime. I do get a bit sleepy and I never drink coffee! Coffee is something I never caught on to and I don't really plan to drink coffee anytime soon. ;) I guess I'm just a morning person.

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