Thursday, 7 May 2009

Night Shift beckons...

So today I switch rotations at work and start on three weeks of night shift. I'm one of the lucky few who really enjoy night shift. The pace of a night shift can be much more relaxed, you don't have the constant interruptions of Doctor's rounds, clinics, x-ray and other investigations, constant telephone calls and visits from friends and family. However I don't think the role of the night shift should not be minimised. What happens during the night shift is as important to the recovery of the patient as the activities that occur on any shift. The main goal of night shift is the promotion of sleep which is essential in order for the body to recover and regenerate. The sometimes quieter routine of night provides opportunities for close patient communication, with more one-on-one time with patients who are wakeful or fearful. Clinical skills and expertise are even more necessary at night when working with fewer back-up resources available.

So how do I cope with Night Shift...

* Sleep as soon as possible after the night shift. If you delay sleep after the night shift, your body will begin to warm up and prepare for the day's activity.

* Ideally, have one block of sleep only; if this is not possible, two blocks of sleep are preferable to a scattered sleep pattern.

* Night workers will sleep better during the clay if they can simulate night-time sleeping conditions.

* Sleep in a dark room or wear an eye mask. This is vital, as melatonin, the hormone of sleep which increases drowsiness, is suppressed by daylight even through closed eyelids.

* Sleep in a quiet part of the house, away from traffic noise and household activity.

* Tell family and friends about your schedule and ask them to call you only during waking hours. Give them a copy of your roster.

* Avoid caffeine three to four hours prior to sleep. Caffeine intake delays sleep onset and impairs sleep quality.

* Feel safe and comfortable. Lock doors and windows for a feeling of security.

* Eat a banana or drink some warm milk before going to bed. Both these foods contain L-Tryptophan, which is known to be a natural sleep inducer. L-Tryptophan releases serotonin, a sleep-inducing brain chemical.

* Avoid alcohol prior to sleep. It is a diuretic and interferes with the quality of sleep.

* If you cannot sleep, stay in bed and rest. Avoid negative thoughts and assure yourself that you are at least getting needed rest.

(Tips courtesy of Whitireia Nursing Journal)

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