How To Stay Alert
Staying awake and alert during long, quiet night shifts is an important but challenging part of being a home care nurse. Following the tips below can help keep you alert and keep your patient safe.
- Use your sense of smell.
Aromatherapy recommends essential oils to stimulate the nervous system. Open the bottle and take a whiff if ou’re feeling drowsy…Rosemary, Eucalyptus blue gum, peppermint, coffee (beans or brewed) and Scotts Pine Oil.
- Use acupressure.
Massage the following points to improve circulation and ease fatigue…Top of head, tap with fingers; Top of the back of your neck; the back of your hand between your thumb and index fingers; just below your knees and our earlobes.
- Expose yourself to bright lights.
Usually the room is dark with minimal lighting, go into the bathroom and behind the closed door turn on the bright light.
- Keep yourself uncomfortable.
Stay on your feet, if you do sit, sit in the most uncomfortable chair; make sure your back is upright; don’t allow your head to rest on anything.
- Stay cold.
Stay on the chilly side, remove your jacket if needed. Do not get warm and cozy. If you need to, open a window or door to get the crisp night air on your face or use a small fan on your face.
- Exercise at your computer.
If you can get up and move around, do so. Move your arms and legs to get blood pumping while you sit. Continuous fixation on a computer screencauses eye strain and will worsen fatigue.
- Avoid a full stomach.
Snack all day, do not eat a big meal before coming onto a night shift, then there will be no spike in your blood sugar and the inevitable crash that follows; Try eating every hour or so a small snack like, an apple, sunflower seeds, raisins, nuts, peanut butter or celery sticks.
- Every 30 minutes while feeling drowsy do one of the following:
Try a different item every 30 minutes; 10 slow deep breaths, exhaling slowly; physical activity for 2-3 minutes (jumping jacks, push-ups, jog in place or just walk around); REMEMBER TOBE QUIET; splash cold water on your face; drink a glass of ice cold water, stay hydrated, dehydration causes fatigue; brush your teeth, chew gum which stimulates the muscles in your face and increases bloodflow.
- My personal favorite
Take a few minutes and imagine the alternative to staying awake when a ventilator becomes disconnected for say 5-6 minutes. Think about what you would find after you woke up. Sleeping is simply not an option. Stay awake and stay employed at PHI.
Have tips of your own? Contact us to share them.