Nursing professionals are no strangers to the busy 12-hour shift life. As a result, there are many nurses wondering how to tackle shift work disorder.
Shift work disorder occurs in individuals, such as nurses, who work nontraditional hours like night shifts, early morning shifts, or rotating shifts. It results in excessive sleepiness and drowsiness. Other consequences of the disorder include work-related accidents, poor safety outside of work like driving while drowsy, or poor coping skills and mood swings, which can affect your social life. You should take these symptoms seriously if you want to improve your everyday life and your ability to perform as a nurse.
Here are helpful tips on how to tackle shift work disorder:
Prepare Your Body for Sleep
If you work non-traditional hours, it’s important to make sure you can sleep when there is time. This often means sleeping on a schedule that you may not be used to, like during daylight hours. To do so, try to minimize exposure to sunlight that can set your internal “daytime clock.” Also, follow a usual bedtime routine, and keep a regular sleep schedule, including on days off. When necessary, sleep aids, naps before work, and heightened sun exposure at the beginning of your shift can help you stay more alert.
Work With Your Employer
Most employers will be conscious of the negative effects shift work disorder can play on their employees. Your employer should give you at least 48 hours off between overnight shifts or consecutive long-hour days. This will give your body time to rejuvenate. If you aren’t receiving the necessary amount of time off, talk with your employer. You should also be wary of taking on too many extra shifts or tasks. Breaks and relaxation are a necessity, and giving away your downtime can come back to bite you.
As a nurse being alert and awake is imperative to the safety of your patients. Working unconventional hours can cause shift work disorder, which can drastically affect overall health. Follow these tips for how to tackle shift work disorder to stay active on and off the job.
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