How to Love Night Shift Nursing as a Travel Nurse

Once you’ve made the decision to pursue a career in travel nursing, it’s easy to start picturing how exciting your life will be. From grabbing a cup of freshly brewed coffee at a local shop before every shift to going on daily hikes when you have the day off. No matter how you picture your life as a travel nurse, it’s important to keep in mind that you may end up having an opportunity you love but requires you to work the night shift. Whether you’ve worked the night shift as a staff nurse or this is your first experience, it’s important you have a positive mindset about working the night shift. Being away from home while adjusting your sleep schedule and being on an opposite schedule from your friends can be mentally draining. Check out our advice for learning to love the night shift:  

1. Adjust your sleep schedule 

It’s going to take some time for your body to adapt to your new sleeping patterns, which may mean you’re feeling drowsier and more lethargic while working. It might seem silly, but your body may need assistance when it comes to learning how to fall asleep during the day as opposed to night. To get back into a normal pattern, it’s vital to create a sleep schedule that revolves around your work and free time. To create a daytime sleeping environment that sets you up for success, the National Sleep Foundation recommended eliminating noise and light from the room with a sound machine, darkening curtains and an eye mask.  Don’t forget to watch your caffeine intake while at work too. Although coffee or an energy drink is helpful at the moment, having too much caffeine during your shift can affect your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. 

African American tired nurse

2. Reframe Your Thinking

Instead of thinking of the negatives of working nightshift, reframe your thinking to focus on the positives! For one, night shift contracts typically pay more than day shift since it’s an undesirable shift to work. Another positive of working nights as a travel nurse is that most of your patients are asleep for the majority of your shift. Visitors are often limited, and many procedures or therapies are not scheduled at night, so you can usually expect a slower and quieter work environment. And just because you’re clocking out when the sun is rising doesn’t mean you have to go straight home to bed (unless that’s your preferred sleep schedule), you can grab breakfast with friends or stop by the local farmers market before heading home for sleep. If you’re traveling with a partner and kids, you can spend time with them during the day, as long as you’re getting enough sleep! 

3. Make the most of your days

Like we mentioned above, being on night shift doesn’t mean you have to give up your entire day! Having days free makes it much easier for you to schedule a doctor’s appointment or haircut during times people are typically at work. You can make the most of your new home and explore it by hiking or visiting local tourist attractions during the day. Many nightshift nurses report that the teamwork and camaraderie on nightshift is much higher compared to daytime shifts, so make a tradition with your night shift coworkers to grab breakfast after work and find the best pancakes in town!  

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