According to Better Health Victoria “A shift worker is at increased risk of health problems, such as digestive upsets, obesity and heart disease, and accidents due to excessive daytime sleepiness.”
There is no denying that working night shift can be a daunting prospect for many, but it is often part of life for many healthcare, aged care & disability workers.
Performing all the tasks that need to be completed at night whilst under extreme tiredness & fatigue can feel like a superhuman effort, but over time many learn to manage it, while some also even grow to prefer working at night.
Here are some tips we have put together to assist our night shift heroes in ensuring both the health of themselves and their patients is the top priority;
Tip #1: Preparing for sleep
- When working the night shift getting a good sleep before the shift is just as important as after. When you don’t get enough sleep, you can end up less focused and irritable at work which can put your patients at risk.
Peninsula Health Emergency Department Nurse Amy says “Don’t oversleep on your last day before starting Night Shift or you will be ruined”
- Get yourself into a structured routine. Some people prefer to go to bed straight after work, whereas some like to have a wind down period when they get home.
- Wind downs options; watch TV, go to the gym (some gyms are open 24 hours), watch a movie, have a light meal, read a book.
MePACS Personal Alarms Night Shift Response team member Sam says “I get in my pajamas, have something to eat, maybe put on some washing, watch the news and when I can’t keep my eyes open, I go to bed – This way you are going (to bed) when you are tired and not a specific time when you may just lay there and become frustrated you can’t sleep.”
- If you can use blackout blinds or shutters – if sleeping with the sound of noise is a problem for you look at getting earplugs or sleeping with white noise.
Tip #2: Hydrate and eat well
- Have dinner before your shift, so you’re not hungry through the night. Try and take some healthy snacks with you, such as raw salads, nuts, fruit, and vegetables to keep your energy up.
- Be careful with your caffeine intake as too much caffeine can cause dizziness and fatigue.
Tip #3: Workflow
- Staying active during breaks is an effective way to reboot energy levels, and may include taking a walk to the cafeteria, climbing a set of stairs, dancing to a song on the radio in the break room, or just stretching to keep your body active and re-energised.
- Do as many jobs as possible early in the shift, especially the big jobs, when you are feeling the most awake and fresh.
- Write notes throughout your shift, don’t rely on your memory at the end of the night as this is when you will be the most tired.
- If you able to, you might be able to take a power nap.
- If you feel tired, take a break outside and get some air.
Tip #4: Be organised
- Plan your time before work, do you need to assign tasks at home to another member of your household/family.
- Set an alarm to when to wake-up.
- Have a good meal before going to work.
- Give your body time to recover and rest. MePACS Personal Alarms Night Shift Team Member Maddi says “Don’t pick up any extra shifts after nightshift, you will need those 3 days to relax and reset the body.
Tip #5: Communicate with your co-workers
The night shift creates a completely different environment than the day shift.
- Bonding with co-workers not only makes the night shift easier to handle, but good communication between co-workers can also help increase the likelihood that a shift will run smoothly.
Peninsula Health Nurse Amy comically claims “You must be comfortable discussing sleep patterns and bowel habits (first night bloat is the worst) – there are no secrets on nightshift”
Tip #6: Driving home safely
Driving home safely should be a top priority for every night shift worker.
If you feel tired after a shift, whether that be during the day or night and don’t think you can drive yourself safely home then take a powernap, and drive once you feel rested and safe to do so.
Peninsula Health Registered Nurse Sally says driving home safely after night shift should involve “Windows down, music blaring and air con on”.
Tip #7: Be aware of your surroundings
Work related violence can happen in any industry but predominantly occurs in the health and community sectors, aged care, social and real estate. Employers have a duty of care to protect and keep their teams safe.
Here are some ways employers can better protect the safety of their night workers;
- Ensure your staff are well rested between night shift rotations
- Give your employees medical screenings at work.
- Encourage your night shift workers to join the workplace health and safety committee.
- Distribute health and safety information and protective safety equipment to your employees regularly, including the use of a duress safety alarm.
MePACS 24/7 Response Duress Safety Alarms
MePACS offer a 24/7 fast response duress alarm service, which is ideal for lone workers and people who work in the community, at night or in isolated areas. It’s a fully monitored service responded to by trained professionals, so you can be assured that when assistance is required, we get the right help to your team FAST!
In the event of an accident, violence, assault, fire or medical emergency for you or a client once the alarm is pressed we’ll contact you within 2-minutes to find out what help you need and call either a manager, security team or triple zero.
- We work with you to support your OHS policies
- 80% of clients with a MePACS duress alarm feel safer at work.
- Over 90% of MePACS Duress clients say they feel more supported by their organisation by offering them a duress alarm
- A Duress Alarm System can increase staff retention, morale, reduce stress and sick leave
For more information on MePACS Duress alarms for your night shift staff call our team on 1800 685 329 or email firstname.lastname@example.org