Three Surprising Characteristics of Working the Night Shift: How New Nurses Can Adjust—And Thrive

NursingJuly 01, 2021

After completing the nursing program at St. Paul’s School of Nursing and passing your licensing exam, the next step is landing your first job. When the offer comes and it’s a night-shift position, you may have some reservations along with your excitement.  

New York may be the city that never sleeps, but you do! How will working nights impact your shut eye? Will you adjust? Don’t worry. It’s not only possible to adapt to this role; you may eventually find that you prefer the night shift.  

Adjusting to the Night Shift  

If you’ve never worked a night shift before, you may find it challenging to adjust your sleep pattern when you first get started. You'll be resting while much of the world is awake and you may need some help in creating the right sleep setting. For example, installing blackout shades or curtains can help keep your bedroom dark and make falling, and staying, asleep during daylight hours easier. You may also want to get a white noise machine or earplugs that can block out daytime noises. One of the most important keys to adjusting to your new normal is to have a consistent bedtime routine that helps create and maintain a good sleep pattern. Be patient with yourself as you establish what works best for you and get used to working off-cycle. 

Once acclimated, many nurses find that working the night shift has a variety of benefits that offset any drawbacks. 

One: A Slower Pace 

During the day shift, nurses often have to keep up with a more hectic schedule that includes helping doctors with their rounds, answering visitors' questions, ordering tests, and administering treatments. While this can happen at night, depending on the patient's needs and the ward to which you're assigned, it's not as common or rigorous. The night shift tends to be slower, with fewer people around and fewer interruptions. This can help create a calmer setting, which can significantly benefit a new nurse who is learning the ropes.  

Two: Flexible Off Hours  

Depending on your situation, you may find that the night shift gives you more time with your children or family. If you have a spouse or partner who can be home while you're at work, you may save money on childcare. And you may often get home from your shift just as your kids are waking up, which can offer some quality time over breakfast, the opportunity to take them to school and more.  

Three: Closer Working Relationships 

Since the environment is often less chaotic, night shift nurses can more quickly develop closer relationships and friendships with their colleagues. You may have more downtime, and that gives you time to get to know your colleagues better and even share stories about your nursing experiences. This type of bonding can make your team feel more like a family, which goes a long way towards job satisfaction, especially for new nurses who are becoming acclimated to their positions.  

Whether you find yourself working during the day or working nights, nursing is an important and rewarding career. If you are just getting started and are considering a career in the nursing field, St. Paul’s School of Nursing can help. Click here for more information or call us today at (855) 822-3018 and speak to one of our career counselors.