Why the Night Shift Can Be the Best Shift
Surviving and thriving on the night shift
The CDC reports that almost 15 million Americans are working full time on evening shift, night shift, rotating shifts, or other irregular schedules. A huge number of American workers are also taking on heavy workloads. Almost 20% work 48 hours or more per week, while more than 7% are working more than 60 hours. Nurses, doctors, CNAs and other health workers make up a big part of that overworked nocturnal population, forced onto the night shift.
Despite the obvious disadvantages, there are some hidden benefits to working the night shift. There’s certainly an adjustment period while you figure out a way to reset your circadian rhythms and manage to get some rest in the daytime. But, because of its perks, many nurses choose to stay on the night shift for several years. So what makes working the midnight shift worth it?
Sleeping patients don’t want ice chips
There’s plenty of work to do in a hospital at any time of day, but during the night shift many more patients are resting. Their families are asleep too, usually at their own homes, which means that you’ll have far fewer questions and requests to handle. You can use the extra time to keep up with your charting or just enjoy a few minutes to eat a meal in peace.
Night shift nurses make more money
Everyone appreciates the salary bump that comes with working the night shift. Maybe you have to live like a vampire, but at least you’ll be able to afford to take a great vacation every year. If you add in the extra pay you can get for working weekends or holidays, you can substantially increase your take home salary for a few years even without earning any extra credentials.
Less disruptions to complicate patient care
There is a lot going on during the day. You have to work around meals, therapy, doctors, and visitors, all of which make it harder to really focus on your patients. During the night shift you can put the patients’ needs first. You’re more likely to have the time to listen to their concerns and monitor their condition.
Night shift nurses can spend more time at home
When you have kids and have to somehow balance your full schedule with caregiving, it can be a relief to be home all day. You can pick up your kids after school, make it to the bank before it closes, and even handle any doctor or dentist appointments. Just try to keep your sleeping schedule as normal as possible – set appointments early or late and reserve about seven hours for sleeping.
Nurses on the night shift build camaraderie
There are less nurses on the night shift, which means that you really have to lean on the other members of your team to get stuff done. Because of this, you become real friends with the other men and women working with you. They’re always there to help you turn a patient or get some breakfast at the end of your shift.
Because the world really needs you awake
Without the dedicated nurses, doctors and health care workers who stay awake all night tending to others, the world would be a much more dangerous place. It’s a hard job and sometimes under-appreciated but it saves lives. Apart from the extra money, the quieter halls, and the time at home, when you work the night shift you are doing a job that truly makes a difference.
Taking care of yourself when you work the night shift
The National Sleep Foundation warns that working the night shift long terms has been linked to certain chronic diseases and illnesses. This includes certain cancers, metabolic problems, heart disease, ulcers, gastrointestinal problems, and obesity. It also can increase the risk of experiencing depression. Disrupting your circadian rhythms can hinder your body’s ability to regulate different chemicals, and lead to severe sleep deprivation.
If you do prefer to work the night shift, make sure to take good care of yourself. Bring healthy food to work, create a dark sleeping space to catch up on ZZZs during the day, and don’t drive long distances when you’re tired. You can check out some more of our tried and true tips for surviving the night shift here. Changing to the day shift isn’t always an option but you can be proactive about caring for yourself.
You might also find that you are colder working the night shift, since your core body temperature drops during those hours. Stock up on cozy fleece warm up jackets and underscrubs so that you can stay comfortable during the long nights. And don’t forget that when you shop The Uniform Outlet online you get free shipping on all orders over $75! We’re happy to help make your night shift just a little more awesome.