Most nurses’ assistants find themselves working night shifts at some point. Some really love them and some are a lot less enthusiastic. If you’re one of those less excited about night shifts, we have some good news for you – surviving night shifts IS possible!

A while ago, we asked the Towne Nursing community for their best tips on staying awake and alert during night shifts. Not surprisingly, quite a few nurses’ aides mentioned food and drink as a great way to stay awake. Coffee was the star, but Red Bull was also mentioned, as well as donuts and Pepsi. For more practical tips on getting through the shift itself, read How night shift nurses stay awake for an entire shift.

But once you’ve finished the shift, how do you prepare for the next one? The key to successfully navigating night shifts is to set up a routine that teaches your body to be awake at night and sleep during the day. This isn’t always easy, especially since the rest of the world is set up for being awake during the day and asleep at night.

First, you need to set up a routine. If you have a week of night shifts, get into the habit of getting up and going to sleep at the same time every day. Your body needs to know what to expect, so if you have a day off in the middle of the week, it’s best to stick to the same schedule so as not to confuse it.

Although possibly easier said than done, it’s really important that you have a place to sleep which is comfortable, cool, quiet and dark, even if it’s broad daylight outside. It’s harder to sleep during the day even when you’re tired, so creating optimal conditions is especially crucial.

Make night shifts more fun by taking advantage of the afternoon hours. Schedule errands for after you wake up, spend time with your kids when they come home from school and go out to a late lunch/early dinner with friends. You’ll get to your shift more energized and in a great mood which should last you through most of the night. Plus you won’t feel like you’re missing out on anything if you’ve used your waking hours wisely.

We’d love to hear how YOU make the most of your night shift schedule. Let us know in the comments below.

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