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Tips on Transitioning into Night Shift as a Certified Nursing Assistant

Transitioning into night shift as a certified nursing assistant can take a major toll on your body and mind if not done correctly.  These changes affect our normal sleep wake cycles and our circadian rhythm.  By nature our bodies are designed to be awake during the day and to rest and repair at night.  A CNAs sleep "routine," or "sleep hygiene," is about as personal and individual as ones self.  What one night shift nursing assistant just "has to do" might not work for you.

Being sleep deprived is the number one complaint of certified nursing assistants who transition into the night shift work.  There has been several  physical illnesses that have been associated with sleep deprivation, such as an increased risk of diabetes.  Sleep deprivation has shown to have a decrease in ones own natural immunity to different infections and diseases.  Those who are being sleep deprived has also shown to have an increased sensitivity to pain, appetite and mood changes and weight gain. 

So you don’t become sleep deprived  when transitioning to night shift we have included some few tips from some of the night shift CNAs.

Prepare
Try to adjust to your new schedule as many days ahead as possible. If your already working another shift, see if you can have your days off prior to starting the night shift.  This will give you time to transition more easily. 

Dark Sleep Environment 
Decrease any light in your bedroom.  Blackout curtains/shades can help keep your room dark as possible.  Natural light can be your enemy when trying to sleep during the daylight hours.

Quiet Environment
Let friends and family know a head of time that you will be switching over to the night shift.  This will allow you to sleep without interruptions from knocking on the door to telephone calls.  Its important to make it very clear the times that you will be sleeping and what hours you can talk on the phone or have company over.  If r have to, place a sign on your door.

Limit caffeine
Some foods and drinks have been shown to prevent sleep. Those that contain caffeine is one of these.  Limit your use of caffeine during the night while working. This is only make it harder for you to fall asleep and make exhaustion worst.  These include chocolate, tea, coffee and colas.  L-tryptophan which is a protein that is found in milk, cheeses and beef have been shown to help increase sleep.

Routine
Keep the same schedule on your days off.  Do not to switch back and forth from night shift sleep habits to "day shift" hours on your days off. This will only confuse your body more.

The most important key is to remember is to give your body time to adjust and then listen to it.  Learn to listen to your body, sleep is a necessity and crucial to problem-solving abilities of certified nursing assistants.