If you have worked in a healthcare facility or hospital, chances are you know about working the night shift. Typically, this means starting around 11 pm and working until 7 am. While shifts vary from place to place, working overnight can test your ability to be alert and prepared. Researchers have discovered a sleep disorder, Shift Work Disorder, that is actually linked to switching from day shifts to nights.
Making the move to the night shift can throw off major biological functions because it forces your body to run opposite to its normal rhythm. By preparing for the changes that are about to happen ahead of time, you can eliminate some of the stress your body will experience. We have compiled 6 tips to help healthcare professionals make the jump from days to nights:
1. Reset using your eating schedule
Refrain from eating for 12 to 16 hours before you want to be fully awake. When you begin eating again, your internal clock will reset as if it is starting a new day.
Read this: How to Eat Healthy On the Go
2. Meal prep, breakfast included
Many people have trouble eating after they wake up, but it is beneficial to put this meal in place when you are adapting to your new shift. A study found that eating breakfast decreases fatigue, increases energy levels and lowers stress levels. This is all because breakfast gives our bodies the necessary fuel it needs after fasting overnight. Try to include foods that provide sustained energy such as oatmeal with fruit or whole grain bread with peanut butter in your first meal of the day.
3. Put a routine together during the day to trick your brain
Create a routine that prepares you to sleep during the day instead of at night. Adults require an average of 8 to 8.5 hours of sleep each night. Be sure to establish comfortable and quiet activities that your brain associates with going to sleep, such as brushing teeth, reading, deep breathing or listening to relaxing music.
4. Stock up on coffee and tea
Caffeinated drinks can provide a temporary lift to get you started, but don’t overdo it. It’s suggested to only consume 3 to 5 eight-ounce cups per day, or up to 400 milligram/day of caffeine. Refrain from consuming drinks with caffeine at least 5 hours before going to bed, otherwise you may be left lying wide awake or restless.
5. Get moving
Regular exercise will help increase alertness, fight fatigue, keep weight manageable and increase endurance. Think of ways to increase activity while working, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Take advantage of services offered by employers like wellness programs and a worksite fitness center too!
6. Realize this is a lifestyle change for you and others
Your cohabitors need to understand they may be seeing less of you. They may need to work around your sleep schedule so that you are in an environment conducive to receiving the necessary amount of rest. A great way to keep everyone informed is by posting your sleep/work schedule in an area you share. If you’re worried about missing out on quality time, schedule events in advance to ensure you still get this special time with them.
What other tips do you have for making the transition from day to night shift? Tweet us @TriageStaff!
About the Author:
John Maaske co-founded Triage Staffing in 2006, a full service staffing solution for traveling nursing, laboratory, rehabilitation therapy, and radiology professionals. His successful profession in the healthcare staffing industry spans 17 years, with a deep interest and drive to connect and assist people. John built Triage with intentions to get to know each of this travelers to create an exceptional travel experience for all with a bottom-line of: “Build Trust, Go After It!” When the DePaul University Alumni isn’t busy helping traveling medical professionals expand, grow, and spread health throughout the nation, he enjoys running, hiking, and spending time with his family. Connect with John! Interested in becoming a traveling healthcare professional? Take a look at what Triage has to offer.