Night Shift Made Simple For Nurses And Midwives

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The Nourished Shift Worker is an RN with a wealth of experience to share about what new grads can expect, how to prep your lunch for a week and other nurse and midwife specific tips and tricks!

Here is their detailed guide on how to survive night shift. Doesn’t matter if it’s your first time or if you’ve been doing it for years, everyone can learn something here.

Are you are struggling to cope with your night shifts? Or are you a brand new nurse worried about how to cope with your night shifts?

Either way, it is important to understand that night shift is not all that good for our bodies. Once you recognise this, you will realise the need to do whatever you can to nourish your body so you can be at your best. The fact is, people don’t only get sick from 9-5pm. We must be top of our game to do this job and here are my tips on how I am able to get through my night shifts in Intensive Care.

Ready for night shift!
  1. On the morning of your first night shift, wake up early and go to the gym or sleep in (listen to your body).
  2. Prepare food for your shifts and for your tribe. Make a big batch of sweet potato shepherd’s pie or veggie lasagne for the freezer (this is handy when you finish nights so you don’t have to cook).
  3. Attend to housework – Get the house organised so everything runs smoothly while you are on nights – you will sleep easier.
  4. If life is busy during your nights – set up a bounce back email saying, “Please allow 5-7 days for a reply due to shift work hours”. I would often stress when I forgot to reply to people.
  5. Just chill and let your body relax – remember you will be awake for approx. 24 hours come the next day – be kind to your body.
  6. Have a 1-2 hour nap in the afternoon before your shift starts – nap for as long as you can!
  7. Have your dinner as you normally would.
  8. Eat nutritious food on your night shift; don’t bring in a bag of Doritos or lollies – WHY? Bringing bad food is being lazy and allowing everyone to be tempted because
    Prep your lunches!

    it’s there. Before you know it, 3 bags of chips and 2 bags of lollies are gone. We are often busy on night shift and having bad food readily available makes it easy to grab a handful and keep working.

  9. There are SO many HEALTHY fast food options. If you are stuck, go to to woollies on your way to work and buy pre-made carrot/celery sticks, dips ready to crack open, rice crackers, ready-made popcorn, grapes, nuts, chocolate ‘wallaby bites’… The list goes on. If your work has a reputation for bringing in bad foods BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE – others will follow.
  10. Go to the chemist right now and buy a packet of ears plugs and a heat pack. You don’t want to be woken by lawn mowers or kids playing outside. A heat pack gives me that warm fuzzy cosy feeling and helps me off to sleep.
  11. Invest in a fan – the white noise can also assist sleep.
  12. Invest in good blinds/curtains. If you are in a rental property like me, I make sure the home has them already, however if this is not an option for you, go to Kmart and buy a dark blanket to put over your window – I have been known to tape the edges of my heavy blinds to the window so the crease of light is gone!
  13. When my partner leaves for work, he closes every single blind in the apartment so that when I come home, I walk into a dark cosy environment. I have to turn the lights on to have a shower; this makes me feel like it’s actually night time.

    Sleeping during night shift isn’t easy
  14. So your first night shift is done, you are now home about to collapse into bed. Make sure you eat/drink before you sleep – there is nothing worse waking up a few hours into your sleep, STARVING. I have either a smoothie or classic vegemite/butter on sourdough + a cup of tea. My favourite tea is rooibos and chai mixed together. The Rooibos is naturally caffeine free, full of antioxidants and softens stool. Great for when bowel habits get thrown doing nights.
  15. If you find yourself struggling to sleep, do not leave the house, lie on the couch/bed and just nap as much as you can.
  16. Still can’t sleep? Attend a yoga class before bed if you are seriously struggling.
  17. Download a mindfulness podcast or app.
  18. Very important to look after yourself first.

The culture of shift work is often unhealthy and exhausting – a culture in need of change.
The Nourished Shift Worker is an accessible source of motivation for the new and the old.
Offering ideas, tips, recipes and more to help the modern shift worker find a more positive and healthy path to everyday life.

Find us on Instagram at @nourishedshiftworker
or online at https://thenourishedshiftworker.wordpress.com/
to begin your journey.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share that helps you maintain a good work-life balance? Please let us know nurseuncut@nswnma.asn.au

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