To hospital managers out there, one of the worst work situations your nurse staff has to deal with is working a night shift. This is more grueling than standard working hours, since they’re active during hours they’re supposed to be sleeping. It’s wouldn’t be crazy to assume that you’ve caught one of the nurses dozing off on one of the comfy hospital beds.
Night shifts can negatively affect one’s health, as the natural Circadian rhythm of a person is disrupted and has to adjust for the body to function well during these times.
If you have people on staff that struggle with their night shift schedules, here are a few tips you can give them so they can cope well with this challenging arrangement.
Find a flexible work schedule for your team members
Managers, be prepared to discuss this with your people. The scheduling system works well for certain staff members. Some can work two 8-hour shifts while some can do three. Others can pull off 3 12-hour shifts straight. When they’ve found their schedule, you can let them work. Just be sure to give them a day or two off after so they can rest.
Avoid activities, food, and drink that keep you awake
After working a night shift, it is tempting for nurses to gather and have a gimmick together. Also, before leaving the office, some nurses ingest energy drinks, cola, coffee, or sweet treats like donuts to keep them awake during the last few minutes of their shift. Advise your team not to do this. They could end up staying awake during the time they’re supposed to catch up on rest. Advise them to go home immediately after their shift and sleep.
Keep your home/room conducive to sleep
Your nurses may have avoided food and drinks that would keep them awake, but if they go home to a brightly lit home, chances are, they’ll lose the desire to sleep altogether. Inform them that they should keep their home and room dimly lit so they can be lulled to sleep by the lack of light.
Also, recommend them to keep their rooms comfortable with the right amount of pillows, blankets, and window covers. Nurses’ rooms at home should be a sanctuary of sleep so they can re-charge their batteries before pulling another all-nighter the next day.
Take power naps at work
A 5-10 minute power nap at work can energize nurses for the next couple of hours, so suggest this to them. Elaborate that this does not give them liberty to sleep on the job. With this small privilege, emphasize that there will be repercussions if you catch them abusing this small but helpful privilege.
Make sure your personal life is spick-and-span before going to work
A sudden personal errand could be the difference between life and death for a patient in the hospital. Tell your nurses to prepare everything that needs to be done at home so they can work uninterrupted afterwards.
Have you dealt with working a night shift before? Do you have any new ideas to share about coping with such a difficult timeframe? Let us know in the comments section below.