I am very fortunate to have a job I love. More importantly, that job offers a non traditional schedule allowing me to have a little bit of both worlds. I consider myself a stay at home mom during the week and a working mom on the weekends.
As a nurse there are so many different areas to work in, with a variety of different schedules. I am currently a “Weekender,” which means I work 12 hour shifts on Friday and Saturday nights. Then have off Sunday through Thursday. This is awesome because it gives me the opportunity to be home all week. I can take the kids to school, do homework, go on field trips, stay home with the baby and all the other fun things stay at home moms get to do.
It also allows me to bring home an income and work in a profession that I truly love. But to be completely honest, night shift sucks. So I have thrown together a list of the things that help me to survive and perform at my best, even when I’m really feeling like a zombie.
Sleep When you can
I have to put this as number one. As a new mom I think we all have been told, “Sleep when the baby sleeps!” Sleep is essential in making you feel human, and when we don’t get enough it is seriously hard to function. So, my number one piece of advice is to sleep when you can! If you are a mom and have someone who can watch the kids for a few hours so you can sleep, take advantage of that.
If you work a schedule like I do and have an amazing husband that is home during the day before work, pass off the kids and sleep! Or if you have kiddos that still nap, leave the dishes in the sink and sleep when they do!
Things like black out curtains, a sleep mask, and a white noise machine can also really make sleeping during the day easier.
For me life is all around easier when I am able to keep up with an exercise routine. I sleep better, have more energy and all around feel better about myself. With my schedule now I am able to get workouts in on weekday mornings and Sunday evenings. Some of my other coworkers plan their workouts into their days before or after work. I notice when I am not exercising I feel sluggish, run down and overall lazy, so I make it a point to make time in my day.
Also I recently purchased a Garmin VivoActive HR watch for my half marathon training and have been wearing daily to track my steps as well. I think I have created a monster with this and have become slightly obsessed with meeting my 10,000 step a day goal. This has helped me get through those long nights at work because if I’m feeling really tired I now feel compelled to get my steps in and will take a few laps around our unit. Just that little bit of exercise is usually enough to give me some energy to finish out the night.
I think I am starting to be labeled as the crazy nurse on our unit though! During my breaks I can now be found in the stairwell getting in my flights of stairs as well!
Drink TONS of Water
And avoid the energy drinks, I should add! Caffeine really does not have much of an effect on me, so I am not one downing coffee to get through my shift. Water just makes me feel better, and keeping hydrated makes it easier to function. Those energy drinks pack a huge punch but also leads to a big crash and they aren’t easy on the wallet either! Staying adequately hydrated helps you to maintain a more steady energy level. Many of my coworkers swear by their coffee and if that’s what works for you, drink it! Just try to avoid it too close to the end of your shift as it may affect your ability to sleep when you get home!
Eat Real Food
I almost always pack a real dinner to eat at some point during my shift. Usually this is whatever I cook for dinner for the family before I leave for work. This prevents me from snacking throughout the night and keeps my energy levels more even. Try to avoid processed foods full of sugar, saturated fat and salt as these will just make you feel like crap in the long run.
Find a Job and Coworkers you Love
Seriously, I could not make it through some nights at work if it wasn’t for the amazing people I work with. I look forward to going to work because I know I am surrounded by my second family. If you have to spend time away from your family, doing something you love with a group of people you know you can count on makes it a little bit easier.
Find a routine that works for you
These are just some of the things that make night shift a little bit easier for me. I am lucky to have the same schedule week to week. This allows me to get myself into a routine that I can stick with. It is all pretty much trial and error until you find out what works best with your body and your life.
Well there you have it, my tips to survive night shift. Night shift isn’t for everyone, but if you are one if the millions of people working this schedule for one reason or another hopefully you find something here that helps you get by. Some days it is really a struggle but knowing I am helping to provide a better life for my family really helps me push through. I would love to hear what helps you all survive this crazy schedule!