Working Nights: Tips for Alertiveness

As many healthcare workers already know working the nightshift, although suboptimal for many, is essential to the health and welfare of our communities.  In a recent study 35.3% of nurses who rotated shifts and 32.4% of nurses who worked nights fell asleep during their shift at least once in the past week.

Although this shift can be rewarding, it can be a difficult adjustment for many. It is often the most difficult obstacle as sleeping patterns will differ from the majority of our friends, the population, and business hours. Further, fatigue and lack of sleep can have serious impacts on your patients and your health.  According to the National Sleep Foundation shift workers, in general, are at an increased risk for peptic ulcers, coronary heart disease, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and respiratory infections. Also, higher rates of fatigue-related accidents, absenteeism, depression, reduced social/family activities, and overall higher morbidity.

Our top tips to prepare for your shift include:

  • Get enough sleep
  • Take short nap breaks throughout or between shifts if able
  • Be active during breaks if you’re unable to rest
  • Use caffeine, but within reason
  • Save tedious tasks for the end of your shift
  • Exchange ideas with colleagues on ways to cope.

Although sleeping prior to your shift to ensure you are fully rested is essential. It is difficult for many to sleep during the day.  According to the sleepfoundation.org the following are tips for daytime sleep:

  • Wear dark glasses to block sunlight on your commute home
  • Maintain the same bedtime and wake time schedule, if possible, even on off days.
  • Eliminate noise and light from your sleep environment. Use eye masks and earplugs if needed
  • Avoid caffeine and food close to bedtime
  • Avoid alcohol.  Although it may improve falling asleep, tolerance builds quickly and disturbs sleep long-term.

Shift Work Disorder is dangerous and must be combatted rather than assumed as “part of the job”. Each health care worker must focus on their own health to ensure they can deliver the best care for patients in their community.

If you, or someone you know, are looking for any medical healthcare position please refer them to visit our open positions and/or reach out to Marilou Lopez at mlopez@giacare.com or (210) 319-4154 in recruitment.



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