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How to Recover from Night Shifts

How to Recover from Night Shifts


Nurses are no strangers to the ill-effects of working night shifts. Aside from being physically draining, a graveyard schedule can also put them at risk for several health issues like high blood pressure, obesity, and abnormal cholesterol levels.

Despite these negative effects, working night shifts are still inevitable for most nurses especially those who are working in short-staffed hospitals. To help you stay healthy and fit, here are some of the best tips on how nurses can recover from night shifts.

Establish A Better Sleeping Schedule

For someone working the night shift, getting good sleep is still essential. Without enough rest, you can end up highly irritable and less focused at work. These things can impair your judgment and put your patients at risk.

If you are working on a night shift on a regular basis, you should try to establish a regular sleep/wake cycle too. Instead of adjusting your sleeping hours to your work and personal schedule, try to do it the other way around. Build your schedule based on the time you get to sleep and wake up.

Avoid working for extended hours and skip other personal activities if you haven’t rested yet. Learn how to say no and how to prioritize your health before anything else. Although it’s tempting to go out and enjoy after your shift, you should take a rest first. This will make it easier for your body to recover.

Create A Conducive Sleeping Space At Home

Light and noise can make it hard for you to sleep especially since you’re going against your body’s natural clock. To trick your body, keep your room as dark as possible. You may also need to shut your doors and windows to make sure you won’t get distracted or be suddenly awakened by loud noises.

Keep your room at a comfortable temperature. Staying in a room that’s too cold or too hot can make it hard for you to fall asleep.

If you have a routine at night before getting to bed, you can do it in the morning as well. Get clothes that are comfortable enough to sleep in and remember to thoroughly cleanse your face before sleeping.

Makeup, excess oil, and dirt left on your skin can easily clog your pores and trigger breakouts. They can make your skin look dull, too.

Be Wise With Caffeinated Drinks

A cup of coffee while you’re on duty can help you stay alert throughout the night. You can drink one to two cups in the early hours of your shift to keep you active.

Keep in mind that it usually takes 20 to 30 minutes before caffeine kicks in so make sure to avoid drinking coffee and other caffeinated drinks a few hours before your shift ends. If you take it excessively and at the wrong time, your favorite cup can make it difficult for you to take proper rest.

Stay Hydrated

To avoid fatigue and headaches after your shift, you need to keep yourself hydrated throughout the night. Avoid drinking tea as it has a diuretic effect on the body and limit indulging in carbonated drinks since they don’t really provide healthy benefits.

Bring your own bottle to the station so you can drink lots of water anytime you feel thirsty. When the shift starts to get busy, it can be difficult to run all the way to your locker just to drink. Aside from preventing exhaustion, drinking enough water can also keep you feeling refreshed throughout your shift.


The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or recommendations of the American Nurses Association, the Editorial Advisory Board members, or the Publisher, Editors and staff of American Nurse Journal. This has not been peer reviewed.

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