advertise with us find a job post your topic join the community log in
Reality Unscripted
Are Nights Right for You?

I’m not sure you can make nights fit with the rest of your life.

“I love the idea of working nights—the pace is great,” writes a recent grad. “But it’s wreaking havoc on my personal life. Working three 12-hour nights and then having four days off sounds great. In reality, I’m always exhausted. How do I make nights fit in with the rest of my life?”

I think you have to make the rest of your life fit in with working nights (or be exhausted all the time, which is the rule more than the exception).

The best way to make it work is to maintain the “up nights/sleep days” schedule, even when you’re off, so your body clock adjusts. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work well for anyone trying to live life with those on a “normal” schedule.

The bottom line is figuring out if the pros outweigh the cons. What would you suggest to this common dilemma for newer nurses?

Read more Reality Unscripted articles

9 Responses to “Are Nights Right for You?”

  1. Leah Smith Says:

    Unfortunately, most of the world functions on a day schedule. So we nightshifters have to either deprive ourselves of sleep in order to live in the real world, or we miss out on life outside of work. New nurses generally have to start working on the nighshift. If at all possible, try to clump your night shifts in a row. That way, you’re not flip-flopping from days to nights as much.

  2. Tana Fellows Says:

    I’ve been working nightshift for 3 years now and don’t intend on switching to days. I actually tried day shift the first month back to work after maternity leave, and look where I ended up. Night shift works great with little ones at home. I work every other day and it may not feel like it, but you do get used to less sleep :). The normal scheduled people will not understand your schedule and probably won’t make an effort to work around it, but after a few years, I have finally convinced my family and in laws that, yes, sleeping is usually associated with being lazy during the day, but I have a reason that I do it, etc etc.

  3. angiegirlie Says:

    I think that some of us are just wired for night shift. My entire life, I slept in the evening or afternoon and stayed up at night.
    I worked night shift for 11 years and loved it. I occasionally tried day shift for 3-6 months and just didn’t like it. I sleep better when it’s light outside. I sleep with the light on at night anyways…the overhead light, not just a nightlight.
    I’ve been on days since last Christmas and it’s been tough but it was what was right for my marriage. It is easier to get things done on my days off now that I don’t need to sleep for half the day, but I’d rather work nights and can’t imagine feeling different.
    Nights is a good shift to learn basic time management and skills for any area, but you learn more from rounding physicians during the day.

    Family and friends have a hard time ever realizing that if you work 7p-7a, you likely aren’t asleep until 9 or 10 in the morning (much like them going to be at 9 or 10 at night) and that it is not okay to call you between 12pm & 2pm. Not ever. Unless you can call them at 2am and say “What? You’re not up yet? Are you going to sleep all night or something?” lol

  4. Rachel Says:

    My biggest advice, keep the schedule as much as you can. I’m a newby myself, been on nights now 2 years and I won’t be switching back. It helps that there are 24 hour grocery stores now, and 24 hour fitness places. But as for family and friends, biggest thing I’ve done is give them my evenings. When I have off I will go to bed at 8-9 and get up at 4 and spend the evening until they go to bed with them, talking on the phone, checking the latest movie, helping with homework, etc. Then I do what I need to do for the “day”, shopping, cleaning, laundry, etc. Sometimes you can even have breakfast made to enjoy with your family when they get up in the morning and sit down and enjoy it together. And if you sleep some during the night, a nap, you can spend part of the day up with them on their days off. Get home and take another nap afterwards. My fiance is always laughing bc he likes his alone time and my nap time is his time for video games. 🙂 Believe it or not on day shift I was getting 4-5 hours a night of sleep, on night shift I’m getting 8-9 hours every “night”. And I do have a life. 🙂

  5. Rachel Says:

    oops Newbie, newbie!! spelled it wrong.

  6. Shawna, RN Says:

    I am a new grad – 42 y/o and work the night shift – 7 p to 7a. I’ve never done this before in my life, but I have to say that I don’t think I want to go to days at this point. Here’s how I do my schedule:

    1. Work 3 days in a row.
    2. Night before I go in – I go to bed early and sleep late – sometimes I take melatonin or Unisom (just a little, else I’m groggy). I am up for several hours – then take a nap from 14 – 1600. Then I am up, get ready for work, leave around 1730 – it takes me about 45 min to get to work.
    3. Get home around 0830, bathe, bed and sleep til 1600. Do it all over again…
    4. The last night – I get home at 0830, set my alarm and sleep until early afternoon… GET UP!
    5. Spend time with family and resume sleeping at night.

    I am still adjusting to that – but it seems to work for me.

    Take care.

  7. Beth Says:

    I like nights better than days, at least for now, because I feel like I can’t keep up on days! I did most of my orientation on days and then switched to nights and have been on nights ever since (I have only been a nurse 8 mos.) On days I was completely overwhelmed by patients leaving for tests (and making sure they were ready) and number of people around! People ask me, “So, when are you going to start doing days?” They seem to think you learn more on days. Is it bad that I only feel comfortable with nights right now? Should I try to switch to doing some days to get the experience?

  8. vera Says:

    I like nights better than days as well and have been doing this for more than a few years. What I can say is that I have met some of the finest nurses working nights. I would also say , do not be concerned with what other people say; following the crowd may not make you the happiest person or give you the best experience. Working nights ,nurses tend to bond and have better working relationships and that time you will gain your greatest experience in your comfort.
    Be still and grow where you are planted!!

  9. Julia Says:

    I have been working 7P-7A for a year now and I absolutely hate it. I am always tired and have no energy and it has interfered with my social life. On days off, I try to be on a regular schedule so that I can be more in synch with friends and family. On my first night back to work, I am unable to nap before work and am typically up for 24 hours. At work, I often find it difficult to keep my eyes open especially around 3 or 4 AM. I feel that it is dangerous for me to be working on such little sleep and compromises the care I deliver to patients. I have made a few mistakes and overlooked crucial details because of lack of sleep. No matter how much I sleep on days off, I feel as if I never catch up on sleep. I hope I am able to work days/evenings at my next job because working nights has destroyed my life and made me miserable and bitter to patients when I don’t mean to be.

Leave a Reply

search realityrn

sign up for weekly cartoons, tips, and blog posts
first name
last name

Register to win a pair of RX Medical Silver Fox Crocs

Nursing Jobs