One of the MOST common questions I get about working as a nurse over night is my sleep Schedule & routine.
You asked... so let me lay it down for ya!
First thing I have to address is mindset around sleep. No matter if you are a day or night sleeper - the more you WORRY about sleep the LESS restful sleep you will get. So first rule - stop overthinking it!
Things I do to keep my mind, body and spirit sane throughout the week while working nights:
1. I stay up until 1am-3am on the nights I am off and wake up between 9am-10am. This keeps me from getting too far off my schedule for when I go back in. It keeps my body on SOMEWHAT of a routine, I will say I am no longer a morning person. But this experience has also taught me that with the right mindset you can become whatever type of "day time" person you want!
2. Each week go over your sleep schedule - so you know what to expect and WHEN you will be sleeping! This has helped me so much over the past year!
3. When I come home from my shift I prepare for sleep and go RIGHT to bed. No TV, no phone, no food - just relaxation & sleep. Closing your mind and body off is so important when you are attempting to get restful sleep ESPECIALLY when you are trying to sleep at such an unnatural time!
4. I use blackout curtains + a sound canceling fan. We keep the apartment very cool during the day so that the environment is appropriate for sleep. It’s glorious. Our fan cancels out all of the construction that is going on right outside of our apartment and the curtains we use literally block out ALL blue rays. They are from IKEA! Sometimes I forget what time of day it is entirely!
5. I have a few triggers that remind my mind and body it’s sleep time. Washing my face, reading, warm shower are a few examples. Triggers are things you do repeatedly (like a habit) before you go to sleep. Whenever you do those things your mind and body may begin to relax as if you are getting ready to shut down for a few hours. Find a few things you do EVERY TIME you are getting ready for sleep and repeat those few things! It helps get your mind in the right place for rest.
6. When I am going back in for another night I take around 1.25mg of melatonin to help KEEP my body asleep for 6-7 hours. I wake up rested without grogginess (different doses work for different people! This is just what works best for me!). I often get asked if melatonin is addictive - anything can be come psychologically addictive. The key is to not RELY on it. I take a small dose ONLY when I am going to be going BACK into work for night 2 or 3. I do not take it on my nights off, UNLESS I am having a REALLY terrible time staying asleep which does not happen often.
Most importantly your mindset matters. Stay positive, be grateful that you have an amazing job! As a NightShifter you get to take care of the world while everyone else rests, there is some pretty powerful beauty in that!
Stress the GREAT things about your life and make less room for the hard things to crowd your mind space.
Good luck - I know you’ve got this NightShift thing!
If you enjoyed seeing my schedule and tips for sleep please comment and heart this post so I know what to post more of!