Top 9 Tips for Adapting to the Night Shift

Switching to the night shift can be a rough transition if you're not prepared. Follow these tips to stay happy and healthy during your assignment!

Switching to the night shift can be a rough transition if you’re not prepared. Follow these tips to stay happy and healthy during your assignment!

By Haley Thomann

Fusion Medical Staffing, LLC

So you are about to embark on a new journey and a new contract. The pay is great. The location is perfect. The only thing holding back your full proclamation of excitement? You are going to be working nights — for the first time!

According to fellow travel nurses, here are the top 9 tips for adapting to the night shift:

  1. Block schedule: This seems obvious, but make sure you ask about your schedule. It can be very tough to transition back and forth between day and night when your shifts are separated throughout the week. Use that last night shift of the week to have a shorter sleep, it will help you adjust to daytime hours when you are off.
  1. Invest in room darkening curtains: This tip was unanimous when it came to our night shift warriors — even if you don’t work nights, these things are AMAZING! Toss in some ear plugs and a sleep mask if you are really sensitive.
  1. Request top floor apartment living: Since most people are working “normal” hours and have the weekends off, they aren’t usually considerate of the person sleeping below them. Make sure to request the top floor whenever possible for a little more peace and quiet.
  1. Start your day with breakfast: Some prefer to wake up at 5 p.m. and have dinner, but this is your new morning. Start it with breakfast! Regardless of what you eat when you wake up or before you go to sleep, make sure it is not something super heavy!
  1. Stay healthy: From eating healthy to getting exercise, these things will help your body stay functioning through the change and long hours. Consider meal prepping and packing a healthy lunch to keep yourself from grabbing junk food on your way home to crash for the night. (well, day.) Sleepless = bad cravings.
  1. Avoid caffeine: Yeah, we know, it sounds crazy! Why wouldn’t you slam a bunch of coffee and energy drinks to make it through? All that caffeine will start to take a toll on your body, so instead, STAY HYDRATED! It will help you in so many ways. Some travel nurses also suggest if you are going to have that caffeine, cut it off at 3 a.m.!
  1. Get some outside time every day: Soak up that Vitamin D! It certainly can’t hurt. If that still doesn’t feel like enough, invest in a nice sun lamp!
  1. Laugh and smile daily: Seems like weird advice? Night shifters typically have less social interaction, which can create issues with communication and the smoothness of a shift. Make sure to interact and bond with your coworkers. It will give you that little boost!
  1. Consider how you are getting home: Some of our travelers have had a bit of a commute when heading home after working nights. If you are too tired, DO NOT DRIVE HOME! Call a friend or take a little nap. Another tip from several of our night shift pros — wear DARK sunglasses when you head home in the daylight. That light can trigger your body to stay alert and awake, which will keep you up when you are trying to wind down.

Most importantly, listen to your body. It is a good idea to take a break from night shifts if you have been going at it for a long period of time. You know your own body, so take the best care of you that you can. Don’t be afraid to ask your coworkers what helps them out too!

Haley Thomann has been with Fusion Medical Staffing for just over 3 years, managing all its social media and content. She absolutely loves her side of the job because she gets to interact with amazing travelers, help potential travelers find the answers they need, and represent the Fusion brand. Outside of work, she loves spending time with her husband and 1-year-old daughter, Dylan Olivia. For more travel resources from Haley, check out Fusion’s blog at http://blog.fusionmedstaff.com/ or connect with her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/hwenthe.

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One thought on “Top 9 Tips for Adapting to the Night Shift

  1. Sleep mask. I don’t use them anymore but for first-time denizens of the night shift they can help a lot.
    Bring a long sleeved t-shirt. Temperatures vary a lot on night shift. Some patients have the heat on all the time and some keep the room cool. (I appreciate those)

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