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Old 12-13-2009, 07:28 AM   #16
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I've worked nights, days and afternoons, it can be crazy getting your body to adjust to a new schedule. My best advice is to baby yourself. Make sure you're getting lots of fluids while you're working, and then once you get home, that helped me avoid an awful headache in the morning. Nap when you feel like it, or when you can, and on your first day off, take it easy. Lay around and sleep or relax as much as you can. Yup, the house looks like a disaster, and everyone gets tired of eating cold cereal but they survive.

Congratulations! I love being a nurse and hope you do too!
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Old 12-13-2009, 07:58 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Judy from Boise View Post
My body is naturally primed to work nights, so it was easy for me.......what medication have you tried?
Hi Judy - all I've tried so far is Melatonin and Tylenol PM, taken when I get home in the am, but not for a long time at a stretch. Part of the problem I think is that I'm up at 5am on days I have school and/or clinical (4 days a week) and the rest of my days are midnights at work. Pretty difficult to get any sort of routine going.

My stepmom is a midnight RN and she takes Provigil, a med they give for narcolepsy. She takes it at 10pm, stays up and wide awake all night, then falls sound asleep for 6-7 hours when she gets home. She swears by it. If things don't get better once I'm full time, I may consider trying it.

Thanks to everyone for the advice! I really appreciate it. I will try staying up after my shift for awhile...I just gotta get right home to shower though, because I don't go out in public with my dirty scrubs on. They are really, really dirty and I don't want to expose anyone to that.
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Old 12-13-2009, 09:03 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Imzadi View Post
It will actually get easier when you switch to 3-4 nights a week. Your biorhythms need consistency in order to adjust. You can't just expect to sleep 2 mornings a week and be awake the other 5 days during that time.

What you are going though now is more of an exhaustion sleep, rather than a restorative one.

I've read physically, that is hardest on the body. That's why most sources say to NOT sleep in on the weekends, but to pretty much keep to the same sleep/waking schedule. By Monday, most people's biorhythms are off because of drastically changing it on the weekends.

I also suggest a nap before going to work, if you still can only get 4 hours of sleep in the morning. Go to bed the same time as your kids. Sleep for an hour or two and then get up, go to work.
That was my point exactly. She can't do that when she is working 7p-7a. She has to figure out how to get enough sleep before her kids get home and things get rolling in her house.
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Old 12-13-2009, 09:11 PM   #19
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If you want/need to sleep through as soon as you get home, it wouldn't be horrible to crawl into bed and take 5mg of ambien on those few shifts. This would get you through until you are on consistent nights, then hopefully you will adjust naturally.
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Old 12-13-2009, 09:28 PM   #20
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That was my point exactly. She can't do that when she is working 7p-7a. She has to figure out how to get enough sleep before her kids get home and things get rolling in her house.
Dang! I forgot she mentioned that. For some reason I thought she started closer to midnight. Yeah, that would be a problem.
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Old 12-14-2009, 02:42 AM   #21
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I worked nights for many years and now, 4 years after retiring, I can't break the day sleeping cycle.

I found it best to cluster my work days together. I usually worked 4 in a row then off for several then 4 more. I wasn't full time and started out working 12 hours but they moved it to 8 hr shifts. It was easier on the 12 hours. My family got used to leaving me alone for those days.

I know you wish to spend more time with your kids but realistically, it may not be possible. If you are sleep deprived and grouchy you aren't doing them any favors. Not to mention, your patients need and deserve you wide awake too. I found atarax worked wonders for me. I have skin problems and often itch so I had them anyway. I take one when I am restless and not able to sleep and it works for me. I have taken 2 but it is a bit too heavy a dose if I have to function.

I found the sleep mask essential. I still use it. That way my DH can turn on the lights when he is getting ready for work and I don't even know. For some reason, the darkness from the mask seems to keep noises from bothering me too. Weird, I know. I often sleep with the window open in summer and the landscapers come to the neighborhood, the dogs bark, the kids play and even people cut down trees and I often don't hear them. It might be because I also have two adult sons living at home and have learned to block them out.

Perhaps if you give yourself till summer to get adjusted, by this I mean put the kids in an after school program, make dinners extra easy and make you sleep a priority, you might get this demon conquered. Good luck and congrats on getting your favorite job.
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Old 12-14-2009, 04:50 AM   #22
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I used to have the same problem, and be exhausted by the end of my shift when I worked late. Sooner or later I got used to it, but now I can't fall asleep until around 5:00 or 6:00 AM, which is much later then I need to be up.

I really don't like it, because I sleep when I could be doing errands, and then when I do wake up I have to go into work, and then by the time I get off, there's nothing to do since everything's closed, and my friends all have "normal" working and sleeping hours.

Sorry, I realize that doesn't help you at all, but hopefully you'll be able to find away to get some more sleep soon.
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Old 12-14-2009, 07:54 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by RNMOM View Post
I worked nights for many years and now, 4 years after retiring, I can't break the day sleeping cycle.

I found it best to cluster my work days together. I usually worked 4 in a row then off for several then 4 more. I wasn't full time and started out working 12 hours but they moved it to 8 hr shifts. It was easier on the 12 hours. My family got used to leaving me alone for those days.

I know you wish to spend more time with your kids but realistically, it may not be possible. If you are sleep deprived and grouchy you aren't doing them any favors. Not to mention, your patients need and deserve you wide awake too. I found atarax worked wonders for me. I have skin problems and often itch so I had them anyway. I take one when I am restless and not able to sleep and it works for me. I have taken 2 but it is a bit too heavy a dose if I have to function.

I found the sleep mask essential. I still use it. That way my DH can turn on the lights when he is getting ready for work and I don't even know. For some reason, the darkness from the mask seems to keep noises from bothering me too. Weird, I know. I often sleep with the window open in summer and the landscapers come to the neighborhood, the dogs bark, the kids play and even people cut down trees and I often don't hear them. It might be because I also have two adult sons living at home and have learned to block them out.

Perhaps if you give yourself till summer to get adjusted, by this I mean put the kids in an after school program, make dinners extra easy and make you sleep a priority, you might get this demon conquered. Good luck and congrats on getting your favorite job.
I agree 100% with you on both these thoughts. I wanted to stress those points too but didn't want to be perceived as antagonist towards the OP. You managed to discuss those issues without doing so.

I have seen many, many times over the years people choosing to work nights but continuing to care for their children during the day. I don't get how they think that is safe for them, their children or their patients. Sleeping while your preschool aged children watch tv and heavens knows what else is scary. I am not implying that the OP would do this. There are going to be many instances where their school schedule, snow days, half days, etc.. will impact her sleep if she doesn't get a plan set for them to be watched by someone else while she sleeps.

I doubt many people would expect to work all day and then care for a relative (elderly or sick perhaps) all night. It's as if you somehow need less sleep because you work nights. As I stated before, you might need even more sleep than when you were working days or in school.

The suggestion to cluster your days on and off is a good one. Hopefully your boss can accommodate this and result in less switching between sleeping days and nights. This will be of benefit to you and make the transition easier. I think in the end you will find out if you are suited for working night shift. As I stated, constant headaches, nausea and a 25 lb weight loss let me know midnights was not for me.
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Old 12-14-2009, 08:59 AM   #24
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My MIL is a nurse and worked nights for 20+ years. I can honestly tell you that her. system for sleeping is HORRENDOUS and to not do this. She basically has lived like a walking zombie for as long as i have known her and it has led to a lot of resentment from DH and her other children because she never was available for them growing up.

She basically worked clusters of 3-4 days on then a few days off. She went in around 9 and got home around 7 am. She would go to bed right away and sleep til noon. Then she would be up during the afternoon, however she often would nap. Then after dinner she would go back to bed for another few hours. During her off days she would sleep a full night then take several naps during the day. Basically she never got herself on a sleep schedule for 20+ years. She lived in a fog, was constantly sick, and basically was never there for her children. Her whole life was consumed by sleeping.

Fast forward to now and her unit was closed at the hospital. She then got a pretty normal day job at a doctors office. After several months you would not believe the difference with her. She still has issues with being available as a parent/grandparent (that is a whole other topic ) but health wise she seems much better and "with it".

FIL also started working night shifts a few years ago and he has adjusted much better. He usually runs errands and does housework after work and sleeps from about 10-dinner time. I really think the key is to find a schedule and stick to it....don't sleep whenever you feel like it or your body is never going to adjust! Hope this helps.
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