Wednesday, May 19, 2010

How to spot a night shift nurse

The other day I was walking into the break room at work, just before my shift. As I came down the hall I could hear people exclaiming,

"I slept so good today! I got a full 8 hours!"
"Oh not me, I slept maybe four and this is my ninth day" replied the other nurse.
"Wow, I don't know how you handle that!" I replied as I walked into the room.
"Hah, do I LOOK like I'm handling it well?" We all laughed.

Probably the most common topic all night shift nurses have is sleep. The first thing we do when we see each other is say hello and then proceed to ask how many hours we slept that day. We exchange tips and tricks on the ways we manage to get as much sleep as possible. Ambien, trazadone, lunesta (yuck, I hated that one. It leaves this TERRIBLE taste in your mouth all day) benadryl, nyquil, advil PM, tylenol PM (by the way all of which are basically benadryl with other stuff added). A glass of wine before bed, those funny looking eye covers, black out curtains. Some of us switch our schedule on our days off and actually try to stay up during the day and a few of us don't (most of the time that's me).

Either way being a night shift nurse isn't always easy, especially when you work 12 hour shifts. Still, I prefer it over days because I get paid more and it is usually less stressful. You also learn to be very independent because you don't have all the resources around like you do on days. When you don't trust what an intern decides to do about your patient's crashing blood pressure at learn to call the resident or the fellow. You learn to trust your intuition and you learn to ask A LOT of questions. Especially being a new grad like I am.

One of the ways I have learned to handle night shifts and 12 hours shifts much better is by making my food at the beginning of the week. Seriously, the last thing you want to do when you stumble home at 8am is make your lunch or dinner for the next night of work. You also don't want to have to put together breakfast if it means cutting into more of your sleep, and you sure as hell aren't getting up early to make food either. Plus, it stops me from eating junk food that is laying around my house or at work. Nurses are the worst at bringing sweets and fattening stuff to work.

So, I decided to take pictures and maybe share some of the recipes I have from what I made this week. This can help anyone who has a busy schedule; for 1-2 hours of work you have food for 5 days. I did this (sometimes) when I was in nursing school and working 18 hours a day, too. If I had done it every week then maybe I wouldn't have gained the 30lbs I did. Stupid nursing school.
Well, here's to eating healthy from now on!

Asparagus and green beans from the farmer's market by my house. I decided to go the easy route and get pre-cut, baby bella mushrooms (they were on sale).

Lots of garlic because I absolutely love garlic. Some chopped white or yellow onions too.

Some garlic powder, salt, pepper and a bit of olive oil to saute it all together.

There's one of my veggie dishes. Next I put some foil on my broiler pan and on one side had petite red potatoes sprinkled with salt, pepper, paprika and a bit of garlic powder.

On the other side of the dish I had brussel sprouts, some of the sliced mushrooms with garlic, (I really, really love garlic. Can you tell?), sprinkled each sprout with olive oil and salt and pepper.

I roasted them both at 350, the brussel sprouts cook first so I check them frequently and took those out when they were done and put the potatoes back in to finish cooking.

Next I put together some salads for the week. Heirloom tomatoes are my favorite because they're a little sweet, really beefy with virtually no seeds and they don't wilt the lettuce if you mix it in and package it up or a few days. And yes, those are edible flowers also. Another great farmer's market find.

Next, I made some sandwiches and instead of using mustard or mayo (yuck, I hate mayo) I used garlic roasted humus as my spread. Lean turkey meat, avocados, heirloom tomatoes, some of the lettuce from the farmer's market and the 100 calorie sandwich thins by Oroweat.

After it was all almost done I put together my dinner. Some of the salad, brussel sprouts and potatoes. On the side a basil, tomato, parmesan bocca burger (wasn't my favorite, it over cooks too easily and resembles a cement frisbee more than an edible patty at that point.)
The next day I was able to get the day off by using my vacation hours since our census was low. I ended up replacing my bocca burger for turkey burgers. Bread crumbs, garlic powder, tiny bit of paprika, salt, pepper and parsley mixed into ground turkey made for a great tasting turkery patty. No pictures of that though, sorry.
After I ate, I finished chopping up all the fruit I had. Boxed it up and was done. (By the way, I had some of this fruit with fat free cool whip for dessert yesterday and it was delicious and low calorie too!) I also threw some lite, canned fruit in with fat free cottage cheese to have for breakfast.
There it is. I have enough food to last me through 5 work days. I have a good amount of variety and just in case I need some snacks on the side I have fat free yogurt, wheat thins and progresso's healthy soups. (0-1 points on weight watchers)
Yum, now Im hungry. I think I'm going to get some banana bread that just finished baking. Recipe for that soon to come too!


  1. OMG you're so organized. . . . .I am breaking out in a cold sweat just thinking about the fact that I will have to pack my 5 year old son's lunch next year when he starts kindergarten!

  2. Awesome planning and organization. I start nursing school this October. I'll be planning similar meals to avoid fast food. Thanks for sharing your food prep routine. :)

  3. I love this post.. I work 3rd shift also and it is so hard to NOT eat junk... def gonna favorite your blog and try my best to start doing this.. I had gained 50lbs in the last 2 yrs since I have been on 3rd shift.. I have lost 15lbs of that recently just by cutting out the soda.. so now I am on a mission to eat healthier.. and to stop eating heavy foods right before I go to sleep when I get home in the mornings.. I love this post and have pinned it on my pinterest.. I have a blog I just started recently, but nothing as nice as yours.. it's if you ever want to stop by and say hi..

  4. I work for an overnight shipping company and your post is describes us to the tee! It is so difficult to try and cook and make dinner for a 6 year old and have a husband who works opposite schedule. I get about 4 hours of sleep and this is my 3rd year on this shift. I am terrified of getting heart disease. Thank you for sharing. These are all great tips!