At most any healthcare facility there are travel nurses working around the clock to provide care for patients, even when they’re sleeping, as someone must be there to ensure they’re safe, but that comes with its own risks – to the staff who stay up all night working on the night shift.
Many travel nurses work night shift assignments, and as our bodies weren’t meant to work through the night, following tips to stay healthy so that you can take care of those important tasks is a must for an easy transition into the role.
Stick To Your Schedule On Off Days
Even on your “off” days, continue to follow the same awake at night, sleep during the day schedule. If you flip back and forth, it’s much harder on your body, and will make going back to work a lot more difficult. Try to be as consistent as you can, going to bed and waking up close to the same time each day.
Stock Up on Wholesome Foods
Eating healthy is important anytime, but even more so when you’re working nights on a travel nursing job as studies have shown that a night shift schedule increases the risk of weight gain and all sorts of ailments. Plus, when you’re tired or grumpy, you’re a lot more likely to reach for junk food simply because it’s easier to do. Bring nutritious snacks to work that you can turn to when hunger pangs hit, and while you’re at home, stock up on fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds and the like. You may want to bring your meals too – when you pack your own, you know just what goes into them.
Aiming to eat mostly whole foods and avoiding processed junk will help ensure you have plenty of energy on and off the job in addition to maintaining your good health.
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Cut Back on Caffeine
This one may be tough. While it’s probably very tempting, try to avoid drinking lots of caffeine to stay awake while working as that can lead to a big crash, which usually happens to hit when you still have several hours or more before finishing up your shift. If you want to drink something hot, turn to herbal tea instead.
Get Regular Exercise
It may sound counterproductive, but exercising will actually give you more energy, so try to fit in some physical activity anytime you can. Choose the stairs instead of the elevator, and aim to walk up and down them at least a few times during your shift. When you’re at home, try to get up off your feet more off, going for a walk, run, a bike ride, hike or whatever your favorite type of activity is. Even performing some squats while you brush your teeth can help – all those little things can make a big difference in how you feel and even help you sleep better too. Related: How to stay fit on a travel nursing job.
Employ a Few Tricks For Better Rest
Speaking of sleep, it can be hard to get good shuteye when the sun is out, which makes employing a few tricks a must for quality rest. You may want to invest in blackout curtains or a good eye mask that blocks all light, along with some ear plugs for shutting out noise. Keeping the room as quiet and as dark as possible helps to ensure a more consistent sleep cycle. If you drive home in the morning after the sun is already up, be sure to wear sunglasses so you’ll be able to wind down for bedtime easier. Related: 6 Tips for a better night’s sleep while on a travel nursing assignment.
Get Lots of Light Exposure During Your Waking Hours
When you’re at work and need to be alert, aim to get as much light exposure as you can. Most hospitals and healthcare facilities have bright lights, making that one an easy one for most healthcare travelers to follow. If you do work in a dimly lit area, consider investing in a portable device that emits artificial light like a light box.