How to Maintain your Work-Life Balance as a Night Shift Nurse
What are the biggest challenges of working night shifts?
Night shifts are not for everyone, but once you get into a rhythm, you can do it. These unusual hours mean having a schedule that is the opposite of most other people’s. As you’re getting used to the change, maintaining a balanced lifestyle and still enjoying social activities can feel tricky. Whilst your body is adjusting, you may experience lack of sleep too. However, the night shift lifestyle is certainly not all bad. Many healthcare professionals choose it for its benefits. The secret of the night shift lifestyle is working out a plan that suits you.
Take care of yourself
Looking after oneself is of course important, whatever your working pattern. Working when other people are sleeping does require you to run on an odd schedule, so you do need to take extra precautions. While you might be worried about becoming tired through this lifestyle, most of the hospitals actually allow short power naps during a shift, when it is needed. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is key to getting good rest in the daytime before and after your night shifts. Being well-hydrated is a big part of this. You must drink a lot of water, and carry a bottle with you at all times.
Eating healthily is also crucial. Nutritious food will give you the strength you need to have a good night shift. Snacking during your shift will keep you energised. Hospital vending machines, however, do not offer good food – it tends to be processed and sugary – so prepare your own snacks at home before work.
Finally, physical activity will show significant benefits for your health and will really improve your sleep.
Make sure you get a healthy amount of quality sleep
If you still have trouble sleeping there are a few tricks which will improve your rest time. Your room must be dark and silent. Wearing earplugs will help you to sleep soundly. Take a hot shower just before sleeping to help you to nod off immediately. Avoid drinking tea or coffee, or using electronic devices before bed. Do not get into the habit of drinking alcohol or using any drugs, to help you go to sleep. You should try to sleep naturally.
Maintain effective interactions with others
Maintaining healthy relationships with co-workers, family and friends is absolutely essential. You might expect this to be a little harder when you are a night-shifter. Those odd hours could potentially limit your time for your relatives. However, most night shift workers say the exact opposite. They choose the night shift to have more time and availability for their family and friends. Moreover, you will likely have more free daytime, which you can use to develop yourself by taking extra classes or joining the local college.
Starting a new hobby and enjoying some of your free time in the day, will definitely have a positive impact on your interactions with others. As well as this, all these additional activities will distract you from your busy work life.
Although the night shift poses some new challenges, it is still the preferred choice for many candidates. This is because of the time it allows for you to be with your family; have time for yourself; get your food shopping done; and anything else that enhances your wellbeing. A big bonus of the night shift is that it is also better paid. Find what working pattern is best for you and always remember the importance of keeping a balance between work and personal life. Adjusting to the night shift worker’s schedule is a matter of attitude, so stay positive and enjoy the benefits you will reap.