Many nurses and other professionals have difficulty staying awake on a night shift. This is completely understandable, and quite honestly, by mother nature’s design. Your body releases chemicals based upon the time of day that encourage you to go to sleep. So if you find you’re having trouble staying awake at night, it’s just because you’re human.
While you can’ reengineer how your body is designed, you may be able to change your practices to make night shift a little easier. There are some tips and tricks you can use that will help you stay alert and useful during a night shift. Without further delay, the following are helpful ways to keep you awake during a night shift.
1.Drink Plenty of Water
Drinking water is helpful for multiple reasons. First and foremost, it’s difficult to get too sleepy if you have to go to bathroom. So staying very hydrated will let your bladder serve as your personal sleep deterrent. Also, drinking water can help increase the oxygenation of your blood level which can help to increases alertness and help you stay awake more easily during a long night shift. Keeping bottled water in the fridge can help you to keep it handy and portable.
2.Keep Your Mind Stimulated
Night shifts sometimes have periods of downtime. These moments of brain inactivity can make it difficult to stay awake. If you ensure that you have something to keep your brain stimulated you can reduce the risk of dozing off. Bring an interesting book to read, nursing CEs, or perhaps work on plans to improve workflow and process in your unit. Another way to keep your mind stimulated might be to work puzzles or brain teasers. Whatever way you can keep your mind working can help keep you awake.
If you find yourself starting to doze off on a night shift a great strategy to stay awake is to start moving. Find an activity that requires you move around your unit instead of being planted firmly in a chair. Downtime at night is a great time to organize the med room and ensure you’re stocked and ready to go. You might also try to find a few minutes of break to do like exercises to keep your blood pumping and increase your level of alertness.
4.Get Plenty of Sleep
Many nurses don’t get enough sleep. Working at night does not mean you require less sleep. In fact, you may actually require more sleep because you are working against your body’s natural circadian rhythms. You can expect to stay awake all night if you’ve stayed awake all day. Respect your body’s need for sleep and ensure that you’re getting what you need to be productive and alert at work.
5. Healthy Eating
Many times on the night shift you might be encouraged to eat one large heavy meal. Eating a large meal will only help to increase your sleepiness. If you space out your eating and eat small healthy meals it will boost your metabolism and decrease an after-meal crash. It can also help you to loose weight and stay healthy. Since many nurses find they gain weight on the night shift, this shift of eating habits may help prevent weight gain and increase your overall health.
6. Refocus Your Thoughts
When you’re on a long night shift you might find your mind is wandering to comfortable places like your warm bed or your nice fluffy pillow. These thoughts can actually make you sleepier and make it more difficult to stay awake. Instead of thinking of nice places to sleep think of nice places to stay awake. When your mind begins to wander to a soft bed, instead of think high energy rock climbing, hiking, a cool waterfall, or other events that require you to be very alert.
7. Stay Cool
If the thoughts of snuggling up with a warm blanket straight from the warmer begin to cross your mind, steer clear. Warming up triggers your body to slow it’s processes. Keeping cool will help you to stay alert and decrease the risks of dozing off.
Staying alert during a night shift can be difficult. But with time and focus you can make night shift tolerable and maybe even enjoyable. The above tips are just a fraction of the ways to help you stay awake during a long night shift. There are many other way to meet the challenge.
How do you stay focused and alert during a night shift?