How To Make Shift Work Easier To Handle
It’s very common for nurses to work long or rotating shifts, often at odd hours, which can lead to frequent sleepiness and fatigue. Getting insufficient sleep has many adverse effects on mood, job performance and motivation, and it can compromise your safety and that of your patients.
While nothing can take the place of a regular schedule of full nights’ sleep, here are some things you can do throughout your day to cope with shift work so you can stay alert and beat fatigue.
Start With Plenty of Sleep
- Try to set up and follow a regular sleep schedule. The average person does best with 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
- Make your bedroom conducive for sleeping. If you need to sleep during the day, make sure the windows are covered to keep light out.
- Keep electronics out of the bedroom. Don’t watch TV or check your phone and make sure all audible notifications on your devices are turned off.
- Shhh! Use a white noise generator or earplugs if there is noise around you that’s outside your control.
- Get a ride. Because fatigued driving can be risky, consider alternatives to driving such as public transportation. Carpooling and ride sharing can be a good option as well.
- Don’t rush. Drive defensively and make sure to give yourself enough time that you don’t need to hurry.
- Don’t drive drowsy. Pull over and take a short nap if you can’t keep your eyes open.
Get the Right Fuel
- Stay away from heavy meals that can make you drowsy. Instead, have smaller, lighter meals and snacks with easy to digest foods such as fruits, vegetables, complex carbohydrates like rice and pasta, and dairy products.
- Say no to sugar. It gives you a quick boost, but drops your energy levels again just as quickly.
- Don’t forget to hydrate. Dehydration increases mental and physical fatigue, so sip on plenty of fluids throughout your day, tapering off toward bedtime.
Be Sparing With Stimulants and Sedatives
- Don’t overdo the caffeine. Use it as needed, but back off all stimulants at least a few hours before bedtime.
- Avoid alcohol. It may help you get to sleep initially, but it is associated with poor sleep quality and duration, as well as other obvious physical hazards.
- Natural sleep is best. Many common types of sleeping pills are associated with the risk of dependency or addiction.
Fight Fatigue at Work
- Get some exercise before work. Even moderate exercises can improve your alertness.
- Take breaks. Don’t miss opportunities to take short breaks throughout your shift.
- Move around. When you’re on break, get up and walk.
- Use the buddy system. Interacting with your co-workers can help all of you stay alert.
- Stimulate your brain. Save more engaging work for when you’re starting to feel drowsy.
Sleep deprivation and fatigue can put you at serious risk for errors on the job. In addition to observing the advice above, you should also make sure you have Nurses Liability Insurance. A personal Professional Liability Insurance policy gives you coverage that protects you if you are named in a malpractice claim stemming from any incident at work.