4 Tips for Night Shift Nurses To Stay Alert and Happy

Are you a nurse that has ever worked the night shift? If so, you know it’s a unique experience that requires extra care for staying on top of your game—professionally and personally.

Because of this, we’ll look at two things:

  1. Staying alert
  2. Maintaining happiness

Let’s review some practical and proven tips for night nurses that will help conquer the possible demands so that you can excel at your job.

Our Four Best Tips for Night Shift Nurses

(Plus, a bonus tip!)

1. Get Adequate Sleep Every Day

Ensuring you get the amount of sleep your body needs is crucial for staying alert on the job. Creating a sleep schedule will be the only truly effective way to accomplish this.

This first starts with limiting use of electronics before bed, which will help you get to sleep faster.

And when it’s daylight outside, use these tactics for falling asleep:

  • Make sure the room is very dark, cool and quiet.
  • Consider investing in blackout curtains and/or an eye mask.
  • Use earplugs to avoid noise.
  • Avoid food and drink right before bed.

2. Enjoy a Balanced Diet and Stay Hydrated

Proper nutrition is the number one way to feel awake. Symptoms of hunger will affect your energy level, making you less alert. And the right nutrients will help carry your body through long shifts! In addition to eating well, drinking at least 6-8 8 oz. glasses of water per day is key.

Part of implementing this tip means thinking ahead by preparing a list of healthy snacks:

  • Mixed nuts
  • Cut up veggies
  • Fruit
  • Avocado slices on crackers
  • Yogurt or chia pudding
  • Organic meat jerky

Keeping yourself from ever truly feeling hungry will ensure your energy levels stay high, and the same can be said for drinking water. Here are some tips for staying hydrated:

  • Keep a bottle or canteen of water with you all the time, even on the nightstand.
  • Set a reminder on your phone to take a drink every hour (excluding sleeping hours).
  • Flavor your water naturally with fruit or antioxidant-rich cucumber.
  • Drink a full glass of water as soon as you wake up.

3. Stay Fit and Active

With all the physicality that goes into a typical nursing shift, you may feel like staying fit is already a perk of the job, but Robert Thayer, PhD conducted a study that proved 10 minutes of brisk physical activity will make you feel more alert than a sugar rush.

Making time for exercise may not be priority number one but start by committing to three 30-minute workouts per week, which will drastically increase stamina and strength, and decrease muscle aches and tension associated with your frequently overworked muscles.

You may be able to implement some of these exercise tips for night shift nursing during slower times in your shift:

  • 10 lunges down the hall
  • 60-second wall-sits
  • 30 calf-raises while supporting yourself on the handrail
  • and of course, take the stairs!

4. Remain In Touch With The Rest of the World

Keeping open lines of communication with friends and family helps you maintain a sense of balance and order in your life, both with work and with personal matters.

To prevent yourself from feeling isolated, try to plan your sleep schedule around the important people in your life, whether they’re around more in the morning or later in the afternoon.

Making the most of your sleep schedule will help create time off during the day that can be enjoyed with your loved ones.

Bonus Tip:  Practice Self-Awareness

With the demands of a high-pressure job and the ups and downs of daily living, it is all too easy to rely on the mind’s ability to run on “autopilot.”

Strong self-awareness helps you maintain peak levels of happiness through practicing skills like resilience and acceptance. It not only helps you mentally, it helps you to better understand others.

Enjoy the Night Shift AND Stay Healthy

The specific set of responsibilities for night nursing includes a series of perks and demands. Having the tools to meet those demands ensures nurses can fully enjoy the benefits of the night shift!


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