3 Steps for Nurses to thrive on Night-shift.

Nurses are saving patient’s lives during the night. Such emphasis and care is taken to prime IV lines, and tuck the corners of bed sheets in.

The same diligence and care must be taken to prime the Health of those who are working, or perhaps even more. Through a process of identifying individualized strategies to calm down and rest, and also stimulate and promote wakefulness, Nurses, Midwives and Health Professionals can structure a routine to really thrive on Night-shift.

Step 1. Find natural “Uppers”

Discover strategies the practitioner enjoys which stimulate the mind, metabolism and promote wakefulness. This will stimulate the Sympathetic Nervous System. Examples include; taking a brisk walk outside, doing some form of movement like foam rolling, yoga or even burpees, eating a healthy meal, a cup of tea or coffee, a cold shower, breathing exercises, or vigorous exercise like going to the gym, ect.

Step 2. Find your Natural “Downers”

Stimulate your Parasympathetic Nervous System with strategies which calm your nervous system, body and mind. Examples include; sipping herbal tea, foam rolling and stretching, warm showers, dry body brushing reading books, patting your pet, talking with loved ones, meditating, listening to calming, slow music or Binaural beats. Even diffusing aromatherapy, burning scented candles or stretching in bed.

Step 3. Design your routine:

The afternoon before a night shift schedule in a few hours of “Down time” to stimulate the Rest and Digest center, or Parasympathetic Nervous system. Sleep if preferable. If sleep is not possible, then rest without technology, optimally in bed with closed curtains. Perhaps some light reading, meditating or listening to calming music. This will reduce the amount of stress hormones released with the ambition to reduce accumulative inflammation during this difficult time.

After the scheduled “Down time” use “Uppers” from the list to stimulate the mind, body and metabolism. By eating regular meals, doing breathing exercises, a few minutes of yoga and stretching, going outside for some fresh air, and a taking a full cup of water.

The “Uppers” can be used at regular intervals through the night like; when you wake, before you go to work, midnight, on your break around 3-4 am, and around 6 am, or just after shift. Have a large cup of water. Dehydration is detrimental to decision making, and gets worse with every coffee. Including a healthy meal at these times can help too.

Schedule strategies from the “Downers” list prior to sleeping during the day. These can be utilized should you experience wakefulness during the day.

Avoid accumulated stress!

To avoid fatigue and reduce inflammation during this difficult period, keep up the routines. Try to refrain from lifting weights or vigorous exercise, instead continue moving. A good guide is to just reduce the time and the intensity of a regular workout. Eg, instead of going to a vigorous gym class, perhaps do yoga, go for a light swim or a 30 minute brisk walk instead.

By Amy Benn

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