Working Nights? Here’s to Better Days.

By GeTonya Dickerson, RN, BSN, CMSRN, telemetry
Methodist Mansfield Medical Center

Long before the days of “24/7,” hospital clinicians have been working ’round the clock to care for the patients’ needs of the communities they serve.

There are many benefits of working nights, but working irregular hours can take its toll on family life. Here are some tips to keep up with kids, family members, and personal commitments.

Get your zzzzs. The first step is to make sure you’re not only getting plenty of sleep, but also planning for uninterrupted time that is dedicated to sleep. Wind down after you get off work, then plan a set time to go to bed. Install blackout curtains, turn off phones, and put aside things that can be done when you wake up.

Stay healthy. In addition to adequate rest, be sure to eat right and exercise. Shift employees often have to fight extra pounds, and that has its own health consequences. Plan to take healthy snacks and brown bag meals to work instead of heading to the vending machines. Try not to eat three or four hours before your bedtime since your metabolism slows down while you sleep. Schedule time to exercise, either at home or at a gym. Just 30 minutes a day of some kind of exercise provides health benefits.

Stay connected with technology. Use email, Facebook, and webcams to leave messages for family members, say “happy birthday,” or send the latest updates. With kids, I know parents who send text messages to say “goodnight” or provide words of encouragement before a big test. When you need to talk to someone in person, let him/her know the best times and ways to reach you when you’re not sleeping.

Be there for your kids. Working overnight or irregular shifts can be a real benefit if you have kids. Plan your sleep so you can have lunch at school on occasion. If a parent-teacher conference is scheduled for the evening, teachers can often reschedule a meeting during the day. Most importantly, after you’ve had a day of rest, you’re there when the kids get home and can help with homework or other assignments before you go to work.

Think outside the box. While you may not be able to have “date night” as often with your spouse or significant other, think about a special lunch or afternoon movie. Think creatively and plan special outings that work with your schedule or when you have a night off. Look for things to do that aren’t available at night, like trips to bloom festivals, or museums. Even shopping’s better when most people are at work or school. Take advantage of the flexibility you have, and you’ll find meaningful work/life balance and still get to enjoy family, friends, and special events.

At Methodist Health System, we have a 24/7 commitment to employees, no matter when they work. To see why Methodist is a brilliant choice for your career, day or night, visit us at


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Posted Healthy Habits at Work