Here are my rules for surviving and indeed enjoying nightshift:
1. Do not forget to bring the following: a toothbrush, a book or a magazine, fruit, red bull or other caffeinated beverage to be chugged down pre theatre at 4am and some money.
2. Do not eat all the crap that the nurses have brought in (usually crisps and huge bags of Haribos) it will make you feel shit.
3. Eat well, drink plenty. If you sleep all day and are working at night it’s easy to forget to drink as there are no natural breaks like lunch time during a night shift.
4. See daylight at some point each day and spend a small amount of time outdoors.
5. Bring something warm to wear at night, even in summer. Being tired and cold is miserable.
6. Night shift time moves at a different pace to day time. When something goes appallingly wrong it seems to move fast and what feels like ten minutes of action actually takes place over an hour, it’s a strange phenomenon that you are made aware of in the mortality and morbidity meeting when someone asks you, “why did it take you two hours to get the patient to the CT scanner?”. The opposite is true of quiet nights, when time stands completely still.
7. You will not do that paper that you need to write whilst on night shift, so don’t kid yourself that you might.
8. Sleep when you can, if it’s quiet at 10pm get to bed, you never know when it will all go wrong. Sleeping from 10pm to 2am is better than messing about until 2am and then not getting to bed at all.
9. Remember that every night shift holds the possibility of it being that magical night that comes along once a year when you sleep all night, undisturbed by anyone.