Called in at the precise moment when one is just settling in to rest and recuperate, duty strikes yet again. Let’s face it, it’s not exactly our idea of fun. Pulling an all-nighter is tough for anyone, especially someone who has already put in an entire day’s work looking after patients.
So while the rest of the world snoozes without care, we doctors put on our stethoscopes, take a deep breath and care for patients through a long, exhausting night.
Unsurprisingly, these nightly shifts aren’t exactly popular, and with good reason. With doctors putting in almost 28 to 30 hours in a single go more than twice a week, many, if not all, health care practitioners suffer from sleep deprivation, fatigue, and depression.
But the fact remains, that like the multitude of duties we may find irksome, night shifts form an integral part of medical care. Illness waits for no one, and as primary responders, it is up to us to save human lives at inconvenient times. .
So how do we get through them? How do we make sure our time is spent productively? And last but not least, how do we make them comfortable for ourselves so that we don’t dread them? That is precisely what we are here to discuss today. The top five ways to get through a tough night shift and ensure it is spent in the best way possible. Let us begin:
- Be Prepared!
Although a diabolical villain’s song for ‘Lion King’ lovers, this particular phrase is something Scar actually gets right. Nothing can hit one worse than facing a situation without a little forethought..
Prepare yourself in advance, mentally and physically. Arm your mind with the phrase “ Practice makes perfect”. Remind yourself that difficult periods like these and the attitude you choose are what determines your future as a doctor. Find the patience to push through with a clear mind and steady hand.
If you can still manage to treat and comfort those who seek your time whilst being bone tired yourself, you are on the path to becoming not only an excellent doctor but a brilliant human.
- Caffeine fixes are a must!
Rarely is any endeavor begun these days without a trusted stimulant. Coffee, tea, Coke, Monster, Mountain Dew—take your pick, the list is endless. Put some time and research into deciding your favorite brew, it may change your outlook on working the night shift altogether.
Hot sweet drinks laced with a pinch of spice or added flavors always go a long way when trying to get through an endless list of things to do. Try stronger variations and limit your cups to a fixed number to avoid a potential addiction.
Two shots and you can work through an easy 12 hours, alert and sharp. Remember, everything’s better with a cuppa or two!
- Treat yourself and eat well!
Working on an empty stomach is a sure recipe for a bad mood. We of all people should know how important it is to take care of our gut in order to to keep the rest of the body happy.
Avoid the cafeteria junk and the cold greasy horrors of takeout menus. Work a little in advance and prepare a well-rounded two-course meal, possibly some favorite comfort food. Tupperware will be a good friend, amazing you with how much can be packed in those compact containers.
There’s nothing wrong with adding the occasional deep-fried treat or a double helping of cheesecake. Even if you like maintaining a balanced diet, you can still afford these delicious tidbits as a reward for a job well done.
Remember, you are what you eat, so pick the good stuff.
- Look after your feet, they work the hardest!
Invest in some top-notch footwear. You will likely spend the night standing, so the last thing you need is a cramp that ruins the following day. Thick-soled shoes with heel protectors can keep youmoving non-stop from bed to bed while avoiding numerous problems associated with lower back and limb strain.
This is one area where paying top dollar is warranted. If you want my personal take, then I swear by the Skechers Archfit series and their Go Walk 6s to stay comfortable. You are not obliged to get them but do explore other options which serve the purpose of keeping your feet happy, because if you do, they will pay you back many times over.
- Rest and relax whenever and wherever you can.
Make the best of your time. Enjoy your breaks with a good book, a light snack, or a short nap. Anything that keeps your mind off work for the next 20 minutes is welcome.
Try and split your call in shifts so you and your colleagues can catch up on some shut-eye. Sneak in power naps for rapid recharging.
Above all else, ensure you are wellrested before your shift. You never know just how hectic it will turn out, so it’s best to be prepared.
Pack your favorite pillow, or even a whole set of sheets from home. Add a pair of soft slippers to complete the experience.
So there we have it, our top five ways to get through a tough night shift, anywhere you may be. Remember, just because this is work, it does not mean you can’t be comfortable. Don’t fight the workplace, rather, adapt and make it your own. Find what makes it easier and apply it. Trust me, you need all the help you can get, considering 30+ hours is a superhuman period to work for anyone.
Add your own personal touch to work and watch it transform into a place of solace and energy!