CNAs work shifts that can last up to 8 hours or more, and nights are often the most difficult. The night shift is notoriously difficult for CNAs, who are tasked with caring for patients when few others are around. While there’s no guaranteed way to survive the night shift unscathed, these 16 tips will help you get through your next rotation in one piece.
- Plan ahead – Prepare yourself before hand by setting out snacks and beverages at your workstation so that you’re not tempted to leave during a break time to grab something quick.. This will also ensure that you’re adequately hydrated and nourished throughout your shift. You don’t want to be caught off guard when a patient starts having symptoms!
- Maintain healthy sleep habits – Getting enough rest is even more important on the night shift as it can take longer for your body to adjust than if you were working during regular hours. Make sure you get enough sleep before starting your shift and set an alarm to remind yourself when it’s time for a break.
- Relieve stress – Nursing is a rewarding profession but can be stressful, especially at night. Try practicing mindfulness or yoga during breaks so that you have tools in place to help manage the pressure of work.. If all else fails, try taking a walk outside to clear your head and focus on something else for a few minutes.
- Wear comfortable shoes and clothes – It may seem like a small thing but this can make all the difference in your ability to stay awake through the long hours of work. The last thing you want is sore feet or an uncomfortable outfit distracting you from what’s important: taking care of patients! Nursing shoes provide support and comfort, making them the ideal footwear for nurses on night shift. You can even bring a change of clothes so you have something to wear at home before going back to work!
- Make your workstation comfortable – It can be difficult to stay focused at work when you’re uncomfortable. Make sure that the lighting in your work space doesn’t strain your eyes and try adding soft, relaxing music.. If you have a dedicated break room where possible, bring in some pillows or blankets so it feels more like home! Bring treats – This might sound counterintuitive but stocking up on your favorite snacks or treats can be just what you need to stay motivated and feel satisfied during a long shift.
- Keep track of time – It’s very easy to lose track of time at work when you’re busy caring for patients or trying to meet deadlines. Try wearing an analog watch that will help you stay grounded in the present moment.. If you find yourself getting distracted or exhausted, set a timer to take a short break.
- Take advantage of technology – There are many technological tools that can help CNAs on the night shift.. Use your phone for reminders, alarms and to monitor how much sleep you’re getting. If possible, try working with a team member who has similar hours so they can cover when necessary or relieve some pressure during particularly long shifts.
- Break up your tasks – Just because you’re on night shift doesn’t mean that work is going to slow down. If anything, the increased number of patients in need means it’s even more important for you to stay focused and attentive! Try splitting long or monotonous shifts into shorter chunks by taking regular breaks between patient care activities. This will help you stay alert throughout your shift, which is especially important if you have to work overtime.
- Take short naps – It’s impossible for most CNAs to avoid working overtime at least once in their career. This means staying awake even when your body is telling you otherwise! If this happens to you, try taking a short nap in the back room or some other quiet place. Don’t fall asleep too long – 30 minutes should be enough for your body and mind to recharge!
- Eat healthy snacks – It’s hard enough working the night shift without being hungry all of the time! For this reason it can be helpful to bring along a few nutritious snacks that will give you needed energy through the grueling hours ahead. You might want to pack a lunch and eat it after you get off work, or bring along some protein bars that will give your brain the nutrients it needs to stay sharp.
- Drink lots of water– It’s easy as CNAs to forget about our own health when we’re busy caring for others. However staying hydrated is important to your well-being, especially on the night shift. Keep a bottle of water close by so you can take sips throughout your shift.
- Nurse friends – It’s always easier to get through the night shift when you have someone by your side! Try connecting with coworkers who have similar hours so that they can cover for you if needed and remind each other to stay safe.. Having others around also provides moral support when you need it most.
- Communicate with co-workers – Nurses work together in order to provide quality care for patients around the clock! This means it’s important for CNAs working nights to communicate their needs and concerns with their colleagues. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to ask for help and support.
- Watch out for each other – When it comes down to it, the most important thing is that all of your patients make it through their hospital stay safely! Sometimes this means nurses on night shift need to look out for one another while we work. If you see a fellow nurse struggling with fatigue or stress, try to help them stay alert and focused on their work.
- Remember that it’s only temporary – The most important thing is to remember why you chose nursing! Knowing this will help motivate you through even the toughest of shifts so don’t lose faith if you don’t love every aspect of the night shift.
- At the end of your shift, make sure to take care of yourself – This may seem like common sense but it’s easy for nurses to forget! After working long hours it can be tempting just to go home without thinking about how you’re feeling. But if your body is exhausted, it’s important to take care of yourself with a warm meal or relaxing bath before going back on the job!
As you can see, there’s no one-size fits all solution to making it through the night shift. Each CNA works best in different ways and has his or her own personal preferences for coping with this exhausting rotation! Hope with those tips, you can work your way through night shift and come out on the other side without too many new memories!