How To Survive The Night Shift

By Shelbi Frolik, MSSI Marketing Intern

Travel nurses switching to the night shift can find it’s tough because of circadian rhythms which run 24-hour cycles and are influenced by the daylight and dark. During the night, the circadian pacemaker releases melatonin causing you to feel tired. Here are some tips that will help you through your new nightshift as a travel nurse:

Manage your sleep patterns

Adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a day. With that being said, you should set a block of 7-9 hours aside dedicated for sleep after your night shift and don’t delay going to sleep if you do, that may cause you to be more awake. 

Watch your diet

Your metabolism gets thrown off just like your daily rhythm. Night shift nurses have increased chances of becoming obese because of a poor diet and the body clock being disturbed. Meal planning on your time off will make you less stressed during the shift, and if you have nutritional food, it will help you stay alert during that shift. Eating light meals frequently will help you feel less drowsy than eating a large meal.

If you need caffeine, use it wisely

Small and more spread-out amounts of caffeine throughout your night shift as a travel nurse have been proven that this is a more effective way to be more affected and awake. You should stop consuming caffeine 6 hours before you plan on sleeping so your sleep isn’t affected.

Stay hydrated

Drinking beverages loaded with sugar will make you crash, so try to avoid drinking fruit juices and soda as much as you can. In order to stay hydrated, women should drink an average of 88 ounces of water per day and men should have an intake of about 128 ounces. Staying hydrated during your night shift as a travel nurse can help to keep you alert for the care that needs to be given to your patients.

Limit stress

Making a drastic change in life, such as switching shifts from day shift to night shift, could sometimes have negative effects on your mental health. Finding some self-care hobbies such as reading, running, or knitting, will help you refocus and have more of a positive outlook. Preventing and managing your stress can lower your risk for other conditions — such as heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and depression. Pinterest can be a great source for finding new hobbies and resources!

Keep your mind active

Having conversations or doing smaller projects during downtime rather than sitting down and losing focus will prevent you from feeling drowsy. During these conversations, you could ask others for tips that help them through the night shift as a travel nurse. Sharing these ideas will help everyone involved. If something isn’t helping you, you can always try new things until you find what helps you survive the night shift.