Life · Nursing

Nights off When you Work Nights


For those of you who don’t know, I am a night shift ER nurse. I go in at 6:30pm and come home at 7:30 in the morning. I typically work 4 to 5 nights a week, typically 2 on, 1 off, and repeat. I won’t always work these type of hours, but right now it is necessary while Z. and I try to pay off debt, redo our house, and travel the way we wish to travel.

Among my coworkers, you typically find two different approaches to night shift life. One is to “flip” which means on your off days, you try to move your schedule back to a regular person schedule. Essentially, after your last nap, you sleep a few hours and then you are so tired, you can sleep that night and be back on a regular schedule.

The other approach is to stay on a night shift schedule, even on your days off.

I initially tried to flip my schedule, but my husband and I found that it was messing my sleep schedule up so much that I wasn’t really able to function. So, now on my days off, I hang out with my husband and then stay up all night.

When I decided to keep my schedule like this, it was a huge adjustment for me. I spent all this time googling what to do when you’re awake all night and did not receive very many affirmative answers. You might think that you would just do what you would do during the day… except not really. Most stores close after 9, movies usually don’t play after 10:45, and when you’re at home, you have to be quieter because you don’t want to wake your neighbors up or you have a partner/roommate who have normal work schedules.

After much trial and error, I am coming to find a range of decent activities that work for me. This is how I spent my nights off this week from Saturday to Friday.

Saturday: I picked up 7p to 1a to help out my coworkers. I got home about 1:45 am and promptly put my drunk husband to bed. I had a really bad couple of shifts so I spent 2 to 3 hours getting my attitude back in check. Sometimes I have to really focus on reminding myself why I do love my hospital and my job.

About 3am I got up and did all my meal prep for the week and cleaned up after myself. I have been eating really poor so I made sure to make all my favorite healthy foods. It was about 7 am when I finished, but I still had trouble sleeping so I laid in bed and watched YouTube videos until 9am.

Sunday: It was my true day off and we had theatre tickets for a matinee of Hairspray. The only hard part was the play was at 2pm, which meant I had to be up by one. I was so wiped. After the play, we went to early dinner with my inlaws.

This was the only day of the week my husband and I would be spending together, although he had hours of work to do. So, we got home about 6pm and he got to work. In the meantime, I sat in the living room with him and played with the dogs. We threw on the newest episode of my 600lb life and then we started on the PBS documentary on the history of India. Per my millennial multitasking mind, I also spent a lot of time shopping for a new living room chair (found one!). Once that was done, I did all my online banking and budget updating.

After midnight, Z. had finished all his work and he headed off to bed. This is where I start to get busy on a usual night. Fortunately, Z. sleeps well so he doesn’t mind if I watch tv or youtube while he sleeps. I started a load of laundry, put on Practical Magic (since I was feeling fall), and wrote a blog post.

By the time that finished, it was time to clean. I made some pasta sauce that Z. requested, changed the laundry, and cleaned the dining room. After that, I cleaned the living room and listened to a lecture on ABG analysis, since I am planning on sitting for my CEN exam. Overall, that night, I listened to 3 lectures for the CEN exam; cleaned the dining room, living room, and bathroom; did four loads of laundry; and made pasta sauce. I am watched a crap ton of tv. That is my weak spot – tv watching.

Wednesday night was my next night off. It actually started that morning with breakfast with a friend. Then, I had a girlfriend over to do some vacation planning… which was very successful. I made a lovely charcuterie board and she brought wine. After she went home, I had a migraine so I went to bed. The bright side is that I woke up early and was able to spend the whole day playing with my dogs, eating, watching a movie, and picking up my house. I also placed by grocery shop order and spend some time studying.

Saturday, I went to wedding with my girlfriends from nursing school. It was a ton of fun, followed by a night with wine and reminiscing. I try to see my friends as often as possible. However, if I didn’t have a wedding, it would have likely been date night, followed by doing all my food prep after Z. went to bed.

The key with keeping busy is finding quiet hobbies to enjoy, but you have to have hobbies. I blog, I study, I soon hope to learn to play piano (with headphones of course). Now, if you are active, it can be harder, but there is always a way if you have a will.

What do you do when you are up all night?

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