Fall Back Celebration for the Night Shift Staff
Around the world, nurses are needed to work the night shift. Patients in acute, subacute, and long-term care settings require nurses to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Working at night, outside the regular routines of society, disrupts nurses’ circadian rhythms and has consequences on their mental and physical health. This can not only affect job performance, but also puts night shift nurses at greater risk for severe fatigue and drowsy driving.
One day each year nurses working the night shift must work an extra hour. Let’s turn that day into a celebration “exclusively” for night shift nurses! Celebrate on November 6, 2022 at 2 a.m. when the clocks fall back and the night shift staff works an extra hour. This might be the last year nurses can do this because on March 15, 2022, the U.S. Senate passed the Sunshine Protection Act of 2021, which would abolish clock changes in favor of permanent daylight saving time. This legislation must still pass in the House of Representatives and be signed by President Biden before becoming law.
In previous years, some New Jersey hospitals have used this night as an opportunity to celebrate and recognize those who work the night shift. Some celebrations included night council members distributing donuts and coffee during the extra hour, food trucks serving specialty foods, and night council chairpersons making rounds and giving treats and prizes to the nurse on each unit who have worked nights the longest. Nurse leaders also made rounds talking with those working nights and distributing moon and star cookies or caffeinated chocolate bites and energy bars.
Nights are long enough so let’s turn this night into a celebration! This is the only event that is exclusive to the night shift and the snacks and treats are just a small way to acknowledge their dedication and hard work. Working nights is a change in one’s lifestyle and sacrifices normal sleep and nutrition, among other things. The “Fall Back Celebration” for the night shift is just one simple way to say “thank you.”
**This is also a good time to mention that November 6, 2022 is also the start of Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. Since nurses working night shift are at greater risk for drowsy driving, this is also an opportunity to join the National Sleep Foundation’s (NSF) Drowsy Driving Prevention Week to reduce the number of drivers who operate a vehicle while sleep deprived. According to the NSF, drowsy driving is responsible for more than 6,400 U.S. deaths annually. Fall-asleep crashes are often caused by voluntarily not getting the sleep you need. Let’s use this week to help nurses prioritize their sleep and drive when alert and refreshed.
And this year, let’s remember to celebrate those who work while many of us are sleeping.
Susan H. Weaver, PhD, RN, CRNI®, NEA-BC for Healthy Nurse Healthy New Jersey
National Institutes of Health. (2021, December 14). NIH research matters: Daytime meals may reduce health risks of night shift work. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/daytime-meals-may-reduce-health-risks-night-shift-work
Sunshine Protection Act of 2021, S. 623, 117th Cong. (2022). https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/senate-bill/623/all-info
National Sleep Foundation. (2022). Drowsy driving prevention week: Drowsy driving is preventable. https://www.thensf.org/drowsy-driving-prevention/