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  • 14 April 2022
  • 8 min read

Coping With Night Shifts

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  • Laura Menzies
    Healthcare Support Worker
    • Mat Martin
    • Aubrey Hollebon
    • Gwenola Dugue
    • Richard Gill
  • 1
  • 562
“So just enjoy learning throughout the nights and look at the positives, that you’re building up more knowledge, you're learning how to be in different situations.”

Do you find night shifts tough? Laura is here to give you all the advice you need to get through your night shifts.

Topics Covered In This Article

Introduction

What To Expect?

Other Things To Consider

Eating Healthily

Sleep Well In The Day

Remember Self Care

Stick To A Routine

Final Thoughts

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Introduction

Hi everyone, welcome to today's video.

My name's Laura, and if you haven't seen any of my previous videos, I'm a Healthcare Support Worker for the NHS and I'm also a first year Student Nurse.

Today, I'm going to be talking to you about working night shifts.

So I know a lot of people dread night shifts, a lot of people love them.

It fits in with their family life and they're flexible for them.

But I do know it is very hard to adjust to them especially if you're not used to working nights.

So I'm just going to give you a bit of advice, some tips on how to manage your night shifts and how to make the experience a bit more bearable.

What To Expect?

So firstly, what to expect on nights. When I worked nights, I was working on a ward in a hospital as a Healthcare Support Worker.

The shifts were typically 12 1/2 hour shifts with a one hour break throughout the shift.

And there would tend to be three healthcare support workers and two qualified Nurses on the ward.

Throughout the shift, it would be a lot different to the daytime.

There's a lot less staff around, more departments are closed in the hospital, and hopefully depending on what ward you're on, there's a lot of patients who are asleep and you just do observations on them.

So it's a slower pace in the evenings and nights.

So I've just made some notes.

Some of the main things I used to typically do when I was on nights was, firstly,

I would try to keep my nights together.

So if you are able to speak to your ward manager and ask for your nights to be all linked together instead of separate nights, that will help you become used to them rather than working, say, a Monday, off on a Tuesday, back in on a Wednesday, it's just going to help you to be in more of a routine.

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Other Things To Consider

Another thing I used to do was explain to my family, friends, neighbours, anyone around me, I would explain, look, I'm working nights.

I'm going to be a bit out of sync with everything just for them to be aware.

Obviously you don't want to be coming home from a night shift, you got a friend knocking on the door, do you want to come for coffee or anything like that?

Just to make people aware that you're not going to be around you're going to be sleeping in the day.

Just to make people aware that you're not going to be around you're going to be sleeping in the day.

Again, you mentioned you needed rest for your shifts.

Also when it comes to sleeping in the daytime, I would really recommend investing in a blackout blind or blackout curtains, I find that really useful.

I don't like sleeping with a light on or any daylight coming through the curtains. So that's a number one priority I would to invest in also.

And eye mask, I particularly don't like eye masks, but a lot of people do find them easier to sleep.

So perhaps if you do struggle sleeping in the daytime, try a face mask.

Eating Healthily

Also eating healthy.

Now I got into a rut where I would be on nights and I would just snack out on loads of different things, chocolate, crisps, just anything to keep me going and give me energy and that quick sugar rush.

And that really isn't the ideal thing to do.

I would suggest investing in some good healthy snacks that are going to keep you feeling fuller for longer.

So high protein snacks, nuts protein bars, things like that.

Just to keep you feeling energized for the duration of your shift.

Also keeping yourself hydrated, so drink plenty of water.

I have been known to do nights and just sip loads of coffee.

And obviously that's not good for you in the long run having loads of coffee.

So if you can just invest in a big water bottle and just take sips throughout your shift and try and keep yourself hydrated that way.

Some of the things that help me personally because I'm a mum and I got children and I'm married, meal prepping was really good for me.

So if I knew I had a bunch of nights coming up, I would look at things I could meal prep in advance.

So I would perhaps make meals, put them in the freezer, so then when I wake up off a night shift, I don't have to think, oh gosh, what are we going to make for tea? It's all there.

I can just pull something out the freezer, heat it up, and it's just much easier and less stress.

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Sleep Well In The Day

Another thing I would advise is try to sleep as long as you can in the day, it is very hard and it's very easy to think, oh, well, I need to do this today.

So I'll just stay awake and I'll just quickly slip this into my routine or I'll just nip to this appointment.

But in the long run, it's not going to do you any good.

You're going to end up feeling rundown, worn out, even more tired than when you are in work.

So my advice would be when you are on nights, just try to not have anything planned during the day apart from you come home, settle yourself down and have a real good sleep during the day.

I know some people I've never done this but personally I know some people they like to tell their postman that they work nights, just to tell them if any parcels come, they can take them back to the sorting office just to stop that added disruption during the day.

Remember Self Care

Some other things I've noted down, some people do are taking Vitamin D.

Now obviously we are getting reduced sunlight within our day as we're working during the night.

So a lot of people do tend to take vitamins and not just vitamin D, even if you take like multivitamins, they can help improve your body and help you feel better in the long run.

So another thing I would recommend is just giving yourself some good self-care throughout your night.

So if you are working in the night, perhaps when you wake up after a night shift, don't rush to think I got to get everything done now before I go to work it, just try and give yourself time to wake up slowly.

If you journal or if there's any things you do like meditation, anything like that, any little hobbies or things that you do, try to still incorporate them into your routine because you don't want to live your life thinking, when I work nights, everything goes out the window.

You want to still be able to live your life as normal as possible whilst doing the night shift.

Stick To A Routine

So that's something which I would say, like, try and stick to your routine as best as possible because it's going to make you feel better in the long run, especially like with myself, I like to read every day.

I know if I don't read or if I don't meditate, my mental health might start to fluctuate and I might start to feel a bit down.

I know if I don't read or if I don't meditate, my mental health might start to fluctuate and I might start to feel a bit down.

So just look at things that you can continue to do, even though you are working nights because I just know that'll help you to continue feeling better.

And some other things I would suggest is speaking to your colleagues in work if you're struggling with nights, if they affect your mental health, or if you just struggle sleeping in the day, just any worries or anything you have to do with working nights, just be open and explain these to your colleagues, your ward manager, a supervisor, and I'm sure they'll be as supportive as possible to help you deal with these night shifts.

Final Thoughts

Also my last bit of advice is, excuse me, is to in enjoy the night shifts, as much as they are difficult, it is hard for us adjusting to staying up and working through the night.

You can also learn a lot of different things from seeing how hospitals work during the night, how people can become more and well and different things happen during night shifts.

So just enjoy learning throughout the nights and look at the positives, that you're building up more knowledge, you're learning how to be in different situations.

And I would just take that with you every step when you're doing nights.

So I hope you found this useful.

If you have, please just continue to watch the videos on this website, they're incredibly useful.

I watch plenty of them myself and I guess so much good tips from them.

So thank you for watching, bye.

About the author

  • Laura Menzies
    Healthcare Support Worker

I’m Laura and I work as a Healthcare Support Worker within the NHS, I’m starting the part time BSc (Hons) Nursing (flexible learning) course through the University of South Wales this September. I am looking forward to developing my skills and knowledge further and becoming a qualified nurse. Working and studying part time is important to me as it enables me to balance my family life with my children. In my free time I enjoy spending time with family and exploring new places.

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  • Laura Menzies
    Healthcare Support Worker

About the author

  • Laura Menzies
    Healthcare Support Worker

I’m Laura and I work as a Healthcare Support Worker within the NHS, I’m starting the part time BSc (Hons) Nursing (flexible learning) course through the University of South Wales this September. I am looking forward to developing my skills and knowledge further and becoming a qualified nurse. Working and studying part time is important to me as it enables me to balance my family life with my children. In my free time I enjoy spending time with family and exploring new places.

    • Mat Martin
    • Aubrey Hollebon
    • Gwenola Dugue
    • Richard Gill
  • 1
  • 562

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    • Gwenola Dugue one month ago
      Gwenola Dugue
    • Gwenola Dugue
      one month ago

      Thank you so much Laura! I rally enjoy watching your videos. They are so informative. I have bought my Clarks ... read more

      • Hi Gwenola, Thank you so much for your lovely comment. I am so pleased you find the video useful. I hope you are happy with your clarks shoes. Let me know how your nights go!! xx

        Replied by: Laura Menzies