Night shift workers have a unique challenge that is not faced by those working a 9 to 5 job. How can you maintain a healthy social life when you’re schedule is exactly the opposite of mostly everyone around you? If your nursing career lands you with the night shift, here are some keys to keeping your life as normal as possible.
- Plan ahead with your friends. You generally know your schedule in advance, so you can plan ahead with your friends to go out on your night off or at hours that work for you. Talk with them about their schedules. If you can’t go out for dinner or drinks, plan coffee or lunch. Go for an afternoon walk in the park or a day of shopping.
- Be cautious about caffeine. Relying on caffeine to get you through the shift will affect your normal sleep schedule and make it much more difficult to adjust back to the day shift. Instead, try to make sure you get enough rest between shifts and rely on more natural energy boosts like exercise.
- Group night shifts together. If you work a varied schedule, ask the person in charge of scheduling to try to group all of your night shifts together. This can help you get into more of a routine and make the transition between day shift and night shift a little easier.
- Treat the transition like jet lag. International travelers understand the difficulty of a shifted sleep schedule. After a long flight, the first day in a new place can be difficult and the transition back to your own time zone can be equally as difficult. To get back to a normal schedule take short naps but power your way to a normal bedtime so that you are well rested the following day.
- Make friends with your night shift coworkers. Of course, one of the best ways to maintain a social life while working the night shift is to make friends with others who have the same schedule. Make plans to go out for breakfast or hit the gym right after your shift ends. This can also help your professional life as you may have someone willing to do continuing education or attend conferences with you.
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