Health & Wellbeing

How Can NHS Staff Deal With The Night Shift

Whether you’re a newbie or experienced, working the night shift can often prove to be difficult, especially within the past year. Although the responsibilities don’t differ from day to night, the night shift does require you to make some quite significant adjustments to your own personal routine as well as new challenges presenting themselves.

Night shifts do vary, with many typically starting at 11pm and finishing at 7am, but we know that an 8 hour day is often a luxury and in fact, the hours are extended for longer with some even starting shifts as early as 8pm and finishing at 8am the next morning. These long hours presents the challenge of getting into a routine that allows you to be fresh and ready for the shift, whilst also trying to get those much needed hours of sleep during the day.

Tips to make night shifts work for you:

  • Accept that you are on nights– Remember that if you are on night shifts, you need to follow a healthy lifestyle to take care of yourself. Accept that you are on night shifts and that this will also affect your daytime routines. You will not be able to go about your normal day and then tackle a night shift, you will cause yourself to burn out.
  • Blackout Curtains – Perfect, especially during the summer months, blackout curtains can help to create an environment that mimics that of nighttime, blocking out the daytime sun and making it easier to sleep.
  • Avoid Stimulants – Coffee might work wonders for you on shift or before you start but having one when you get home or even at the end of your shift isn’t the best idea. It will keep you up and make sleeping even harder.
  • Limit Shift Changes – It can take time for your body to adjust to your new sleeping pattern, which is why it’s best to try and avoid or at least limit to many shift changes. Alternating from day to night every other day is not healthy and you’ll begin to find your body clock spin out of control. Also please consider this when asking for overtime, yes you want to help out more and gain more pay but your health is more important.
  • Get some sleep!– Make sure you go to sleep as soon as possible from when you get home from your shift. If you delay your sleep, your body will want to prepare for the day ahead. Also, try and make sure you sleep the same amount of hours each day.
  • Don’t mess with your sleeping pattern– Usually only try and have one block of sleep, waking up and then trying to go back to sleep with only leave you feeling more tired.
  • Control Noise–  Turn your phone on silent and do not fall asleep to the TV or radio in the background. You might think you can fall asleep better with it on but it does stop you from getting into a deep sleep.
  • Create a bedtime routine- Try and get into a bedtime routine. This could be a 10 minute warm shower, spend time reading a book or maybe try meditating.

Sleep is the most important part if you find yourself on the night shift, it can be hard making the switch but once you’ve found yourself in a regular pattern, you’ll begin to see improvements and that the night shift isn’t filled with as much dread as you first thought.

On Shift Tips

  • Bond with your co-workers – sometimes it’s easier said than done but getting along with the people you work with can improve your night shift experience. Nurses and healthcare staff rely so much on each other and being a part of a team, so ensure you’re playing your part by binding with those you work with.
  • Be constructive to stay busy – The night shift may have more sleeping patients and fewer incomings but there almost needs to be a stronger mental will with quiet hours and a slower-paced atmosphere being found on the night shift, so ensuring you re keeping your mind active and alert is important, especially if a patient is in need. Catching up on paperwork, more one on one time with those patients who are awake meaning better care are some ways to keep yourself ticking over.

Biggest Challenges

Working in the healthcare industry always presents so many challenges which the staff and everyone involved work hard to ensure they are overcome, and even make some sacrifices to help those in need. Some of the biggest challenges night shift staff can face, outside of sleep and staying alert is managing social activities and finding that work/life balance.

But night workers have all day free….

Not quite. The need for sleep and rest is still vitally important and once sleep has been achieved on either side of a shift, you are left with a few hours at most to really try and be social. Throw in errands, preparing for work and that time becomes dramatically shorter. Not to mention it’s a lot harder to be social when everyone you know is at work during the day. 

Remember if you work in the healthcare sector in any roles, day or night, you can get access to hundreds of amazing discounts, along with cashback and vouchers when you sign up for free to Health Service Discounts.


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