During our clinical years of med school and residency, night float and 24-hour shifts can feel like a cruel, but somewhat exciting rite of passage. Here are some tips to help you survive those strange hour shifts:
- Pack meals. And snacks. And make sure you’re eating them! Your body might be confused by the funny hours you’re asking it to stay awake for, but you will certainly be hungry! And if the cafeteria isn’t open at 2 AM and you’re feeling pretty hangry, you might be in for a long night…
- Opt for glasses. Dry contacts can be annoying and make you feel tired at times when you really don’t need it! If you have glasses, give your eyes the break they deserve.
- Bring something to read. Night float for OB tended to be quieter than our day shifts, so having a textbook with me to read through or opening up a question bank on my phone was a great way to pass the extra time.
- Stand up. Sitting often led to dozing off, so I tried to stand as much as possible, especially when the yawns began!
- Block out the sunlight. After a long shift, the last thing you want is to be woken up early by the sun when you’re trying to sleep! Try a sleep mask or covering up your windows with black trash bags to keep yourself as well rested as possible.
- Maintain your routine. You can still do the same things you do on a normal day schedule! So exercise, make breakfast, walk your dog…whatever you usually spend your day doing, just shifted up several hours.
- Let your family and friends know your schedule. If you’re used to calling your parents at a certain time of the night, but you’re working then, they may need to be more flexible.