Intrigued by the idea of being a night shift nurse, but not sure if you could handle the late-night hours? Or maybe you’ve been assigned to work a night shift and you’re dreading the thought of it?
Working a night shift (or shift work) can be uniquely challenging - especially for your body to healthily adjust to the night schedule - but with the right amount of preparation, it can become a style of life that you actually really enjoy and even prefer.
To help address the questions around working a night shift, we spoke with one of our stellar nocturnal Nomad Nurses, Sybille!
Sybille is a traveling ICU RN, currently in south Georgia, who has worked the gambit of ICUs - including surgical, medical, neuro, trauma and cardio. She travels with her husband, an ICU nurse who works day shifts. They have been nurses for 5 years, but have been traveling for a little over a year.
I started out working a rotating schedule out of school. My facility did a month on days and then a month on nights. It wasn’t too bad. I just didn’t like the pace of day shift. For me, there is too much talking and too many people asking the same questions over and over.
Night shift has a very different vibe. It seems less hectic and I think I have more time to read about the patient and really get a full picture of what is going on with them.
I also enjoy doing things when they aren’t busy. Like grocery shopping is easier during the day. Going to the gym before the work rush gets there. Things like that.
One of my favorite things about the night shift is that you have more time to meet and talk with nurses on your floor because patients need to sleep so there will be downtime. I rarely ever stay late charting because I have time to get it done on shift.
That being said there are definitely a few things I make sure to do to survive the night shift. Here are my top tips:
When I am not on a work stretch I switch back to a day shift sleep schedule.
My husband works day shift so his is easiest for us. When I get off my last shift for the week I will sleep until noon and then go about my day and go to be like a “normal” person.
For us opposite shifts has worked best to raise our dogs. It would be nearly impossible as a nurse working 12 hour shifts to have a puppy otherwise.
We have to be intentional about making time for each other on our off days. It’s also very important to work most of the same days. Otherwise you really won’t see each other.
Working the night shift can be a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be a scary one. By following Sybille’s great tips, you may learn that you actually enjoy being a night shift nurse even more than being a day-shift nurse!
If you’re feeling inspired to take a night shift assignment, you can start your search here.
Good luck, and have a great night! 🌃
The Nomad Team