How to Adjust to the Night Shift
If you're used to working days and then you receive a travel nursing assignment that requires you to take the night shift, it can be a rough transition, especially when you're also dealing with a new living situation and possibly a different time zone. It's very easy for your entire sleep cycle to get completely screwed up, resulting in multiple wakeups or difficulty falling asleep. When your job depends on your attention to detail and reaction time, you can't afford to lose any of your precious sleep.
Here are our recommendations for adjusting to a night shift schedule.
* Invest in some blackout drapes - When you travel, it's a good idea to pack light, but you'll definitely want to see if you can find some easy-to-transport blackout drapes that will work in most windows. They'll help you tamper down the circadian rhythm that keeps you awake during the day so you can get some much-needed shut-eye.
* Wear ear plugs - Daytime noise can be distracting, and there's not much you can do about it. It isn't like you can tell the world to stand still and let you sleep! Ear plugs will help dull the roar so you can rest.
* Pack your own lunch - When you're working nights, it's way too easy to get into a routine of fast food and takeout, which are tasty but low-energy choices when you're facing a long shift. When you pack your own food ahead of time, you'll be able to choose healthy, energizing foods that you can eat quickly and will keep you going.
*Exercise before going to work - We know it's tough to get up the motivation to work out right before you head in for a long night, but we all know that getting that blood pumping and those endorphins flowing means you'll have more energy throughout your shift.
* Don't go to bed right after your shift - Those first few days might be rough while your body adjusts, but don't give in to the temptation to fall right into bed as soon as you get home. Your sleep schedule will ultimately end up wonky and it'll be tougher to handle the night hours. So make yourself a meal, do some yoga, go get some morning tea, or do whatever else you need to do to unwind, just like you'd normally do in the evening.
We know adjusting to the night shift can be tough, but hang in there! You'll do great.