I work night shift. 7pm to 7am. I’ve done this for almost six years now. Every time we get a new employee on night shift, they do the same thing: They turn most of the lights off in the nurses’ station. And then I have to educate them.
You see, if you turn off the lights, the human body responds by thinking it’s night time (which it is) and you will be tired, fatigued, and want to sleep. Then when you leave to go home, your body senses the increased light, and you have trouble sleeping. I’m not making this up. Read this article.
Well, you don’t have to read the whole thing, just the Summary would tell you everything you need to know about the issue: night shift workers should keep the lights on, so that your body thinks it’s daytime. Then wear sunglasses on the way home. You will get more (and better) sleep.
There are two nurses working with me tonight that are new to night shift. One of them is a former day shift nurse who switched to night shift, and the other is a new nurse. At 1am, the new nurse turned half of the lights off in the nurses’ station, making it very dim. I turned them back on, and then I gave a copy of the article to them. They totally missed the point. Here is the ensuing conversation:
ME: Why do you want to turn the lights down?
THEM: Because it’s night time.
ME: No, it’s our daytime. We work at night, and sleep during the day.
THEM: It bothers the patients.
ME: The patients have their own rooms, and doors to close if the light bothers them, plus we turn the lights down in the hallways.
THEM: Well it’s more relaxing.
ME: Do you think 2am is a good time to relax when you’re supposed to be working? Do you turn the lights down at 2pm on day shift?
THEM: No, because it’s day time.
ME (again): And this is OUR daytime.
After this conversation, they STILL want the lights off. They don’t care about the research, they don’t have a good reason for it, they just KNOW the lights should be off at 2am. There’s no helping some people.