Are you a night owl CNA who prefers the graveyard shift? Or maybe the manic day shift is too much for your inner peace?
Whatever your reason for working nights, you should know there are a few downsides. By nature, the body is programmed to rest from sunset onward. During sleep, the body undergoes healing, repair, and restoration. But patients need care round the clock and there must be staff like you to care for them during this time.
So, don’t let the disadvantages of the night shift drag you down. Be assured that you can still have a great experience as a nursing assistant, if you’re prepared to face the challenges and get a step ahead by working on coping skills early on.
To help cope, here are some handy life hacks you can follow to get the most out of your night job:
Trick your brain - The body follows a 24-hour rhythm that coincides with day and night, perking the body up for activities during the day and waning down energy at night to prepare for rest. You want to mimic this by keeping the nurses' station brightly lit as you work and use sunglasses to curtail the brightness when you go home in the morning.
Eat a healthy breakfast - Pack your “day” with enough nutrients to provide the energy you need for work. An empty stomach likely signals to your body that you’re ready for bed, so eat up to boost your wakefulness and stamina.
Avoid stimulating foods and activities before bed - This includes nicotine from smoking, which is a stimulating substance that can keep you awake. Better yet, stay away from this bad habit altogether. You also need to cut down on caffeine such as in coffee, tea, and chocolate before bed, since they keep your brain active. Heavy exercise can likewise give you an energy boost, so schedule it away from bedtime.
Don’t make alcohol your sleep tonic - Alcohol can make you drowsy, but it causes poor quality sleep. Ditch your shot glass and drink some warm milk before sleep, instead.
Maintain a consistent sleep schedule and number of rest hours - When you work at night, you’re going against the body’s natural rhythm. The least you can do for your health is give the body a pattern to recognize. If you sleep at the same time each night, you'll likely have less difficulty falling asleep and feel properly rested upon waking. Also, maintain at least eight hours of sleep to fully recharge your body.
Keep yourself busy - Check on your patients and make sure they are sleeping comfortably. If they have scheduled vital sign measurements, do them while being very careful not to wake patients fully. You can restock supplies, sanitize surfaces and equipment, fold linens, and organize the station. Being busy also prevents you from feeling drowsy and out of focus.
If your patients are mostly stable during the night, use this time to bond with other staff - One of the greatest perks of the night shift is that you’ll have time to get to know your coworkers better and appreciate them as people. There are fewer reasons for misunderstanding because the atmosphere is easier and more relaxed.
The graveyard shift can be advantageous in many ways, if you know and practice healthy work routines. Follow the above hacks and you can have a wonderful experience working at night.
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