We highly respect healthcare workers, especially a year and a half into fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Nurses will work overnight to care for patients. That’s why it’s so important for nurses to focus during a night shift.
If you have to work a night shift as a nurse, you need to adjust to sleeping in the day and being active during the darker hours. It can be difficult on your mental and physical well-being, but there are some things you can do to make it easier.
Here are 15 helpful ways that nurses focus during a night shift
1. Stick to a schedule
It’s a good idea to set a schedule and stick to it. This will help you to remain focused. Plan exactly when you are going to work and sleep, and organize your daily tasks around this. You can use one of the best scheduling apps to help you.
When you choose to sleep and run other errands depends on what suits you, but try to get into a routine of it. This will make it easier to adjust to working different hours and increase your productivity.
If you need help staying productive and sticking to a schedule, you should invest in a planner. A favorite is the Productivity Planner, which not only keeps you organized but motivates you along the way!
2. Keep busy
Night shifts at a hospital are often quieter. There tend to be fewer patients and issues during the night, but this is not always the case. Whatever kind of night you’ve got ahead of you, it’s important to try and keep busy. This will make the time go faster and keep your momentum going.
While working try and be at your most productive, you can then take proper breaks to disconnect for a short while.
3. Take regular breaks
Take regularly scheduled breaks. You can arrange these between important tasks and appointments. It’s beneficial for your concentration to take short breaks to disconnect from work. You will then return with a greater sense of clarity and better decision-making skills.
Eat, rehydrate, and rest during your breaks so you can have a chance to reboot.
4. Find a comfortable place to sleep
If you take naps at work it’s essential to be comfortable. You could try one of the best neck pillows.
Certain hospitals provide a sleeping area for staff, you need to ensure this has supportive enough furniture for your back and neck.
When you finish your night shift, it’s important to get proper sleep during the day. Create a quiet area at home where there are minimal distractions. If you’re a light sleeper you could also invest in some earplugs and an eye mask.
5. Keep your uniform fresh
Even though you might run into fewer people, you still need a fresh uniform during the night shift. This will also help you to feel better and more awake. Keep your uniform clean and pressed, just as you would your clothes during the day. Most hospitals have a laundry service so you can take advantage of this.
6. Wear scrubs with bright designs
If you have a little bit of freedom of choice when it comes to your uniform, try wearing scrubs with bright designs. Whimsical or colorful designs will help to improve your mood and give you an energy boost. This is because of the way bright colors interact with your brain. If you’re looking for new nursing uniforms and scrubs, check out the range at Uniform Advantage.
7. Stay active
It’s essential to stay active and maintain a healthy fitness routine. This will ensure that you’re more energized when you awake and that you sleep better at night.
If you’re bored of your current workout routine, why not try shaking things up a bit? You could find online exercise classes on Grokker or try a new sport.
It’s also important to try and get some exercise outdoors. Spending time outdoors is very beneficial for your mental well-being. You’ll return feeling relaxed and rejuvenated and this will help to boost your cognitive functions.
8. Eat a healthy diet
You also need to eat a healthy diet if you want to improve your concentration at work. Some foods are known as the best brain foods, but the most important thing is to eat a balanced diet.
t’s also essential to stay hydrated, so make sure to carry a large reusable water bottle.
When working the night shift it can be tempting to neglect your health. Eating balanced meals becomes more difficult when you have to adjust to a new schedule. You should try to treat it the same as you would a day shift, however. Plan a proper lunch break and regular healthy snacks that will give you energy.
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9. Find a way to adjust
Find the best way to adjust to your new routine. This may involve planning a gradual change to the night shift or preparing yourself in advance the day before. You mainly need to focus on resetting your sleep routine as this will ensure you have more energy at work. Often people use different methods to do this. You might want to use heavier curtains or even relaxation techniques at bedtime. You could get an acupressure mat to lie on before bed or try yoga or meditation to help you achieve a sense of deep relaxation.
10. Monitor your health
If you’re working a changing shift pattern it’s important to monitor your health at all times. Being a trained nurse makes it much easier to do. Keep an eye on your blood pressure and your vitals, and ensure you have any health issues seen too quickly.
Working nights or long shifts can be stressful which could take its toll on your body. Speak to your doctor if you have any concerns and they should be able to suggest a suitable solution to help you get back into a healthy routine at work.
11. Control your caffeine intake
A coffee now and again will help wake you up, but you don’t want to overdo it. How much coffee you should drink depends on the person. Ideally, you should try to limit it to two or three per shift. This should be sufficient to keep you focused and any more could interfere with your sleep routine.
If you’re feeling tired at work, take a break and eat something or drink some water instead. It’s also advisable to moderate other stimulants such as sugar or smoking. This may give you a quick pick me up but cause you to crash later on.
12. Stay hydrated
Remember that reusable bottle? Keep it close by.
It’s been said that hydration helps you focus so drink plenty of fluids. If you stay hydrated this will give you more energy and will be better for your overall well-being.
Try to remember to drink something on every break and keep a water bottle with you to remind you. How much you choose to drink during a shift depends on you but it’s important to keep yourself hydrated.
You could even try a natural sports drink (not an energy drink!). These will improve your energy levels and replenish your electrolytes. They contain the necessary minerals to give you a bit of a boost and will keep you hydrated as well.
13. Socialize with coworkers
Maintain a friendly relationship with your coworkers if you can. You will be able to work together more efficiently if you have a good working relationship with your coworkers.
These positive relationships will help to lift your mood and give you more positive energy during your shift. It will also be better for overall morale at work.
You could even try team-building activities outside of work or organizing social events. A sense of camaraderie at work will help to keep you all going even during a busy night shift.
14. Share tips with colleagues
If you spend time with your colleagues socially you could always ask them for any tips and advice on how to stay focused during a night shift. This way you can share your ideas and learn new tricks and techniques.
Everybody has a particular method that works for them so you can bounce ideas off each other to see which one is right for you. You could also check out nursing resources online to help you.
15. Organize a carpool
One last thing to remember is to take care when driving home, especially if you’re tired at the end of a night shift.
To reduce the driving time you could consider asking if you can organize a carpool at work. This way you won’t need to drive each time and you can save money on gas too.
Car sharing is also a much more environmentally-friendly option. It will help you bond with your coworkers and get to know each other better. A carpool could help reinforce the idea of camaraderie and encourage you to look out for each other at work.
Once you are used to working a night shift it becomes much easier.
The important thing is to achieve a balance and find the best way for your body to adjust. You can find the right techniques to keep you focused. This way you can concentrate on your incredibly important job.