CNA Night Shift: 9 Tips from Experienced CNAs

Working on a night shift—one of the biggest challenges for CNAs.

Although it’s necessary so that someone can look after patients at night, you’ll battle fatigue and the body clock just to get the work done.

And so, getting your body to adapt to the new work schedule is a priority.

To do that, the key is to get adequate sleep after every night shift to condition your brain and body for the new “clock.”

Here are nine tried and tested tips that can help you power through the night.

Tip #1 – Turn Night Into Day

Condition your brain that the night is day and day is night.

You can do it by using…

  • Dark-colored curtains to make your bedroom dark
  • Sleeping mask to keep your eyes from sensing light
  • Earplugs to prevent hearing daytime noise
  • White noise to calm your brain activity

Tip #2 – Have a Constant Source of Lighting

When your brain perceives light, it will take it as “day.”

So during the night, you need to find a source of lighting to fool your brain that it’s daytime.

The perfect places to have lighting are the break room and the nursing station.

Tip #3 – Keep the Same Sleep Schedule

It’s best to sleep the moment you get home from your shift.

Do this every day so your body can recognize the new sleep pattern.

Tip #4 – Eat a Hearty Meal

As you’re aware, breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

That’s why, before you go to work, you must eat a hearty meal to fuel your energy during your shift.

It’s recommended to eat more protein-rich foods, vegetables, and fruits as your “breakfast.”

If you get hungry during your shift, eat small portions of food like nuts every few hours.

Doing so helps keep you alert and healthy.

Tip #5 – Control Your Caffeine Intake

Working on a night shift, it’s understandable to rely on caffeine to keep you alert.

But as tempting as it is, you should limit your intake to one or two drinks.

Also, don’t drink caffeine four hours before your shift ends so that you can get to sleep when you get home.

Tip #6 – Be a Busy Bee

Typically, long-term facilities and nursing homes have slow activities at night.

Rarely will you get to have a jam-packed activity during those hours.

And so, you should keep yourself busy to keep you from boredom and inactivity.

You can…

  • Stock supplies
  • Clean equipment like wheelchairs
  • Fold linens
  • Play games with or talk to coworkers
  • Read books and magazines
  • Knit, crochet, or other handcrafts

Do any simple activities that can occupy your brain and can quickly be set aside in case a patient needs help.

Tip #7 – Get Engaged with Coworkers

When you’re engaged with other people, time goes by faster.

So talk with your coworkers.

Find some commonalities with them.

Plus, getting to know each other will create a much closer relationship between you two.

Tip #8 – Ask the Help of Family and Friends

Working on night shifts not only affects you but also your family and friends.

It will be hard for them to know that you’re home during the day only to find out that you can’t be with them.

So let them understand that you need your sleep.

Communicate with them and work together to find a system that works for both sides.

One method that you can use is scheduling any bonding activities on your days off.

Tip #9 – Consult a Doctor

Most CNAs have a hard time adapting to change.

And so, you’ll rely on over-the-counter sleeping pills to help you get the rest you need.

However, for the sake of your health, you should consult a doctor before taking any pills.

Why Do CNAs Like Working on Night Shifts?

Despite the inconvenient schedule, some CNAs do enjoy working night shifts.

Some reasons include the following:

  • Night shift differential pay
  • Less busy, more peaceful environment
  • More time to provide quality patient care
  • Closer relationships with coworkers
  • More time for family

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