Nurse Night Shift Hours- Role of a night shift nurse

Nurse Night Shift Hours

I am pretty sure you have visited the hospital at one time or the other, and you have taken treatment from nurses and doctors on duty the day you take a trip to the hospital. The hospital setting and its workers ‘ time off work differs from the regular 9 to 5 work schedule for many other people. Hospitals’ work schedule is based on shifts, and various medical practitioners work with the shift system. The shift duties timing is categorized into the morning, day/afternoon, and night shifts. These shift hours have various working hours, and it all has both advantages and disadvantages. Today’s topic- Nurse Night Shift Hours.

While most people are fast asleep, teams of health care professionals attend to patients who need medical help. Nurses on the night shift perform the same job roles as other nurses who work during the day shift (either morning or afternoon shift). However, being a night shift job, they must adjust to the demand of the night shift role and schedule their sleeping patterns effectively to ensure they do not fall asleep while on duty. However, the night shift hour for nurses varies based on the medical facility they work for. For example, the required number of night shift hours in hospital A can differ from hospital B. The typical night shift hours for nurses run between 11:00 pm to 7 am with that in mind. Besides, some nurses start their night shift as early as 8 pm in some medical facilities. At the end of the night shift, nurses should go back home and have a long rest to help them regain their energy and strength. 

What should you expect from a Night shift duty?

Most often, working the night shift is somehow slower than the day shift, and many of the other departments in the medical facilities close by evening. Which then leads to many visitors and other staff members roaming on the hallways of the hospital? The night shift nurses continuously develop a closer relationship with the management staff because of their duties and availability in the hospital. Meanwhile, this close relationship with the management staff gives nurses the comfort to work during tough times. In addition, nurses working during the night tend to have higher pay because working during the night is more stressful and challenging than a day job. 

Many departments in the hospital certainly need night shift nurses because of the critical need of the patients in those departments. In addition, wards like the emergency, intensive care, labor ward, and the older nursing world require the attention of nurses 24/7. Night shift nurses primarily work for at least 8 to 12 hours during their shift. Although their hours vary based on the medical facilities the nurses work with, which is mostly from 11 pm to 7 am or 8 pm to 7 am. In some hospitals, they only operate two shifts which are the day and night shifts. Therefore, the work schedule of nurses varies based on where they work, the industry, and the setting of the organization. Moreover, not every nurse does the night shift job duty, while senior nurses in any medical facility have preferences on the type of shift they can, which is mostly day shift. 

The Role of a night shift nurse in any medical facility

There is a lot of misconception about the night shift nurses, as many believe that work is less cumbersome on the night shift roles. However, the opposite is the case, as night shifts are always as busy as the day shift. Most often, nurses in the day shift are very much occupied, and they often leave the less desirable task for the night shift nurses who would be taken over from them. 

As a nurse, having to deal with patients who are tired of trying to sleep or who aren’t familiar with the hospital environment is always a tough thing for the nurse handling the night shift. Another disadvantage that serves as a stressful condition for nurses on night duties is that they mostly lack access to resources from other departments which are supposed to ease their operations. For example, departments such as the pharmacy department close their office at the close of business which makes access to drugs that are needed urgently unavailable. More so the cafeteria facility isn’t available again after the close of business. Meanwhile, some other unique challenges might be faced by nurses who are on the night shift hours. 

The night shift nurse duty lifestyle 

In many medical facility departments such as emergency units, intensive care, the activity level does not change from day tonight. This is major because this is a critical sector of any medical facility which requires intense attention from the medical personnel on duties. In other departments like the orthopedic ward, there might be limited activity in such a section because there are only a few staff available and limited numbers of visitors are also available. More so, the health status of the patients in this department is not as critical as it might be in the emergency services and intensive care services. 

Most of the duties engaged by night shift nurses are responding to calls from patients in distress, keeping them clean, changing the patient’s IV lines, and performing other similar nurse duties like administering drugs and injections to the patients. 

Mainly the night shift has fewer nurses on duty, and there is another limited staff of the hospital working in their support. This nurse works in a team and helps other teams in the hospital where more hands are needed. This means that during the quiet time at the children’s department at night, nurses can lend a helping hand to the team working at the emergency services unit. Throughout the night shift, one of the major duties of the night shift nurses is to ensure that the patients get enough sleeping time. The nurse solves anything that can impair the patient’s sleeping ability because rest is important for the patients going through the recovery stage. However, it is often common that patients feel uncomfortable, grumpy, and anxious, which would lead to a lack of sleep, possibly because of the environment they found themself in.

Tips for surviving the night shift as a nurse

The night shift can be very draining and can affect your performance the following day due to a lack of sleep during the night. However, there are some tips you can follow to help you scale through the night shift fatigue. Here are some of them

Ask for help when necessary.

Night shifts work together to achieve a goal as a cohesive unit, and their major goal is to keep patients in good health and an environment where they can comfortably sleep. Nurses can lean on each other for help and support with a limited hand to handle a required service to be rendered to the patients. Nurses mustn’t be afraid to reach out to their colleagues when they need help, as everything they do will directly or indirectly affect the patients in the hospital.

Sleep during the daytime

As a night shift nurse, your day is now the night while your night is now the day. Therefore, you must take time to sleep during the day before resuming the night duty role. Indeed the natural body and sleep-wake cycle keep us awake during the day. However, as a night shift nurse, you should do everything possible to sleep during the day. It is recommended that you use a sleeping mask and noise-canceling headphones to help you have a sound sleep during the day. 

Learn to Say No when necessary

As a night shift nurse, there are some invitations to the social gatherings you would have to turn down from friends or family. This is because; you would need enough energy to keep yourself afloat and to be able to perform your duty at work when the nighttime comes. If your day is filled with activities, it would not be easy to perform when it’s time for night duty in the hospital. Therefore, you must have your mobile phone put to airplane mode whenever you are back from work and trying to catch asleep.

Create time to eat

Nurses have a busy schedule, and they require enough energy to be able to perform effectively. To gain the required energy, you have to take enough time to take lunch and dinner meals breaks. Most often, you might find it difficult to create time for a break; however, it is important for your health and to avoid breaking down as a nurse.


The night shift duty for nurses is very stressful, and we can’t help but say nurses are expected to take enough time to rest after they have finished their night shift. The duty time for nurses on night shifts varies greatly, either based on the type of medical facility they work with or the department they serve. 

Aside from this, nurses who do the night shift duty are expected to sleep properly after finishing their night shift and avoid getting engaged in many activities during the day to reserve their energy.


Are nurses allowed to sleep on the night shift?

Although some medical facilities allow their nurses to take a nap break during the night shift at a designated location where they can be very comfortable, not all medical facilities allow nurses to sleep during night duty.

When Should I sleep for the night shift?

It would be best to do what works for you; however, ensure your sleep pattern is consistent. For example, if you wake up by 5 pm, you should be ready for night shift activities. Besides, sleeping immediately when you get home after your night shift is the best. 

Nurse Night Shift Hours- Role of a night shift nurse

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