Tips for Dealing with NHS Night-Shift Working

Mar 29, 2022.

Are you a Healthcare Professional working NHS night-shifts?

Whether you’re a Nurse, Doctor, HCA or work behind the scenes as a Porter, as an NHS worker, there may be periods of time where you are working night shifts. We understand how tiring this can be, especially because your job is so focused on the amazing work you do, taking care of others… and that means applying some self-care is even more important. Read on for some great tips on dealing with NHS night-shift working.

Try a power nap*

If you know you’re going to be on a night-shift, plan ahead and try to fit in a short nap before you set off for work, but, make sure you set your alarm so you don’t sleep longer than 30-45 minutes as having a nap that’s too long can leave you feeling out of sync. Also, take it easy when you wake up, as you may feel groggy in those first few minutes.

During a long night shift, try to ‘power nap’ during your break too – just for 10-20 minutes, as this can really help you power through and stay alert when you’re working.

Stick to (healthy) snacks

We all know that a big meal can leave us feeling tired, so before a night shift, stick to small portions that you can snack on as and when you need to as it will help keep your energy up. It’s important to choose healthy snacks too; avoid processed foods, or anything spicy or fried as these types of foods are harder to digest and can leave you feeling tired. Instead, fill your Tupperware’s with slow release energy snacks such as potato or pasta salad and cut up bite-size chunks of fruit and veg that you can easily grab on the go.

Watch your caffeine

Whilst it’s ok to savour a cup of coffee before you start a shift for a little welcome alert boost, drinking caffeine rich tea, coffee or fizzy drinks towards the end of your shift especially, could affect your sleep when you get home, which in turn interrupts your overall sleep cycle. After all, the last thing you want after a busy shift is difficulty falling asleep!

Water, water, water!

Keep you water bottle close by during your night shift to stay alert and energised. If you don’t drink enough water, you may start to suffer from dehydration, which can lead to fatigue (as it affects the flow of oxygen to the brain and results in your heart having to work harder to then pump the oxygen around your body) which in turn can lead to a lack of alertness.

Don’t clock watch

Night shifts can often be slower than day shifts, but try not to clock watch if this happens as it can make the night feel longer. Keep busy, and keep moving around as this will keep you alert and will actually make the night go quicker!

Have a chat!

Getting through a night shift alone can be tough, so if you are working with a team, get through it together! Having a chat where possible will help break up the hours and you might even be able to share some hints and tips too!

Catch your ZZZ’s!

We understand how hard it can be coming back from a night shift and trying to wind down and get some sleep, but it’s important you do. Try not to skimp on sleep / wait until you can sleep at night time to get a proper sleep when laying down after a night shift; aim for the optimal 7-9 hours and make the room as dark and as quiet as possible to mimic night-time. You’ll feel better for giving yourself the time to rest and recuperate.

We hope our blog on night shift working has given you some helpful tips when it comes to working these types of shifts and don’t forget, at ID Medical we strongly support having a work-life balance, which is why we work hard to provide a range of opportunities, with hours and shifts to suit your lifestyle. For more information, please get in touch. Our specialist Recruitment Consultants would love to help you find roles and shifts that fit around your needs, with 1-2-1 support and guidance at every step of the way!