Tips for working night shifts
As a healthcare professional, working shifts can have its benefits, especially for those who choose to only work night shifts (who doesn’t like having four days off in a week?). There are some things to consider though to prep yourself for working night shifts. Here, we consider some of the things we know work.
Keep your meals light at night
Everybody gets used to being awake and asleep at specific times of the day, which can make it a little tricky to keep your energy levels up when working different shifts. If you’re working a night shift, try to eat small meals or snacks throughout your shift, and where you can, keep to a normal pattern of eating during the day. This will help when you go back to being awake at daytime. For example, if you wake up at 2pm after a night shift, have something small to eat such as fruit, before having dinner at 6pm.
Try not to sleep all day
It’s tempting to sleep all day when you finish a pattern of night shifts. Most healthcare professionals used to working night shifts will sleep for around five hours when they get back home. You could always make a point of scheduling something in your diary that means you have to get up – e.g. meeting a friend for a coffee. It’ll help your body adjust to being awake during the daytime again.
We know this sounds like an obvious one, and no doubt something you say to patients all the time, but it’s important to drink. If you don’t, you’ll feel tired and may even develop a headache as the night goes on. Herbal teas, in the place of caffeine, are great if you’re not one for drinking just water. Peppermint tea, we’re told by our nurses, is really good at settling the stomach and stopping you from feeling overly-hungry and tired.
During the night, your body will trick you into craving all the naughty foods. Before your shift, try and eat a meal with whole grains and complex starches to keep those cravings at bay! Take your food with you so that you don’t head straight for the vending machine or convenience foods. High protein foods such as chicken and hummus are a great choice, as well as unsalted nuts and veg.
Be in control
The best tip we can give you is to be in control of when and where you work so you decide your shift pattern. Your current job may not allow for you to work night shifts (or another preferred shift pattern). However, at Sanctuary, we’ve introduced some clever tech so that you can:
Instantly see what shifts are available by location
Book the shifts you wish to work at the click of a button
Auto-book the shifts based on your availability
And so much more with our live roster