From how much night nurses make to how to adjust to your new sleeping schedule, this is everything you need to know about a night-shift nurse job.
The Complete Night-Shift Nurse Job Guide
Being a nurse is already challenging, but add totally changing your internal clock, and you have a night-shift nurse. It’s one of the most difficult shifts to take on. But it can also be one of the most rewarding (personally and financially) shifts too.
If you are considering switching to the night-shift, this guide will answer all your questions. Read on to see how much they make, some pros and cons to the night shift, and some super valuable tips.
How much more do night nurses make?
This will vary from hospital to hospital. Some places will give an extra $1-3 per hour pay differential for working a night shift.
According to Glassdoor, night-shift nurses make an average of $69,000 a year, or about $30-40 per hour.
Compare that to day-shift nurses that make an average of $61,000 per year, or $25-30 per hour.
Some hospitals also offer higher pay for working weekends and nights. So if you work weekend nights you could earn significantly more than if you worked the day shift.
How to Decide if You Should Work Nights
That extra money is so tempting. So should you switch to the night shift? To help you decide, let’s look at both the pros and cons. Then, you can make an informed decision that is right for you.
There are actually quite a few benefits to choosing to work night shift as a nurse. Here are some of the most popular ones.
- Better pay – As I said earlier, most hospitals will pay more if you choose to work nights.
- Fewer visitors – Since you will be working after visiting hours end, you won’t have to worry about all the extra people in the patient’s room.
- More Parking – There is typically a lot more parking in the parking lot after business hours.
- Management does not work nights – If you are an independent worker, then you’ll love this!
Drawbacks to Working A Night-Shift Nurse Job
There are also quite a few “cons” to working nights that you should consider. Here are the biggest ones.
- Harder on your body – It’s really difficult to get the same quality of sleep during the day that you would at night.
- Day shift workers don’t understand – Family and friends that have never worked a night shift might still call you while you are sleeping or try to get you to do things when you should be resting.
- Missing out on events – you might feel like you are missing out on events because you are either working or sleeping.
Did this help you choose? Ultimately, if you have the support and can handle the toll it will take on your body, then go ahead and take those shifts. It’s a very personal choice that only you can make.
Put Together a Night-Shift Nurse Survival Kit
If you do decide to take the night-shift then you should treat yourself! It’s going to be tough. Put together a little gift basket. You’ll need to take care of yourself so you can transition to the sleep/wake hours that you might not be used to yet.
And if you know someone that works the night-shift, this makes a really thoughtful gift!
Here’s what goes into a night-shift nurse survival kit.
- Eye mask
- Door sign
- Blackout curtains
- Respect and encouragement
- Lavender lotion
- Chamomile tea
Night-Shift Nurse Job Tips
Finally, if you choose to work a night-shift nurse job you might experience a few bumpy days or weeks. It’s ok and it’s normal, especially as your body adjusts to the change.
Here are some important tips that will help you succeed.
1. Stay Awake
The first struggle you’ll have to figure out is how to stay awake the entire shift. The worst way is to mess with your blood sugar or chug energy drinks.
Getting the best rest before your shift is the best way to stay awake all night. That isn’t always possible, but you have to try and make it a priority. I compiled even more tips in a recent article.
Here are 7 tips to stay awake on night shift.
2. Get Support From Family and Friends
Next, you have to get support from family and friends. They need to understand not to call or drop by while you are sleeping. It might be awkward at first and they might forget. Some nurses have been known to call the offending family members at 2 a.m. and say “oh I didn’t know you’d be asleep,” just to drive the point home.
If they understand, you’ll be able to get more rest without experiencing guilt and emotional stress from letting people down.
This next tip is purely subjective, but it’s important all the same. Does exercise excite you and help you stay awake? Or does it wear you out and help you sleep better?
Answer that question and you’ll know whether to work out after your shift or before it.
Either way, working out will reduce your anxiety, release endorphins, and help you sleep or work better.
4. Eat Right
As nurses, we all know how important it is to eat right. But for night nurses, it’s even more important. Since staying awake when our body wants to sleep is so hard on you, you need to fuel it with proteins, fiber, and whole foods.
Avoid anything that will spike your blood sugar and cause it to crash again. Treat yourself to slow-release carbs and food that will produce long-lasting energy.
5. Find The Best Way to Fall Asleep
Finally, try to find out how your body sleeps best during the day. Do you need blackout curtains? What about an eye mask? Maybe a sleep machine will help drown out the lawnmowers outside.
A few other ideas you might try include:
- Taking melatonin
- Diffusing lavender essential oil
- Drinking chamomile tea
- Turning the temperature down in the room
- Taking a hot shower or bath to unwind first
- Stay off your phone half an hour before sleeping
When you discover the key to sleeping during the day, remember it and enforce this ritual. Your sleep is one of the most important keys to succeeding in this job.
A Night-Shift Nurse Job Isn’t For Everyone
It’s ok to admit that maybe this isn’t the best shift for you or your lifestyle. Totally changing sleeping habits isn’t easy, and it isn’t for everyone.
But if you do choose to be a nurse at night, make self-care a high priority. This is a tough job and will require a lot from you physically, mentally, and emotionally.
More Nurse Job Guides
What other jobs are you interested in? Browse more about them here.
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