The dreaded night float
Growing up, I was always a night person - I’d stay up until 3am (usually because of insomnia), and I was never a morning person. Fast forward to medical school when I was forced to be a morning person for the sake of efficient board studying. In a perfect world, I’d sleep from 12am-8am every day - that being said, I can usually stay up late or wake up early pretty easily (but begrudgingly). I had a lot of anxiety about a month of nights, because how would my body adjust? Would I ever see or talk to my loved ones? Would I be able to stay awake all night and sleep during the day? Below are some tips I picked up throughout the month.
Black out curtains are everything
Don’t be afraid to take a non-habit forming sleep aid, whether that be melatonin/benadryl/zzzquil, to help fall asleep during the day
I would still eat dinner when I woke up in the PM, then again around 12am, and a small breakfast an hour or so prior to the end of my shift
After getting sign out on all patients, I would go check in with each ICU RN about issues, needs, etc. I would then round again around 12am - decreases the amount of calls received as well as allows you to check on patients
Pack healthy, protein packed snacks and food to look forward to
Stay hydrated - helps with energy levels
Read, read, read - one benefit of nights is that you have more time to read on your patients and their pathophysiology, and it’s important to take advantage of it
Life happens - I would use downtime to pay bills, log cases, organize my study schedule, and of course, study. I made it a priority to do more than just “sleep and work” on night float, although it still felt this way
It’s temporary - this is what helped me the most.
At the end of the day, you have to keep reminding yourself that it’s only temporary, and you just have to get through each task, each shift, each week, while still making the most of your time off. It definitely helped me to prepare life stuff ahead of time - aka bills, appointments, etc. and to go in with the assumption I wouldn’t have time to do much else outside of work, so any free time was a gift.
Keep on keepin’ on -