Rotating shifts and diabetes management

Hi all! I have been diabetic for 20 years and I have also been an RN for 3 years. Currently I work 7a-7p 3x/week but I am looking to change jobs and the job is a rotating shift been days and nights. I am looking to see if anyone has any experience with rotating shifts and how it effects diabetes. Also, do you think it is a good idea to do a rotating shift? Thanks in advance!

hi @Gbrush,

I was a Supervisor for a few years and the mechanical crew were rotating shift. I though it was terrible. You never knew if it was day or night and when you got up you weren’t sure if you wanted breakfast or dinner. Because of the rotation I never felt settled in, so I was always exhausted and off my game, and I though the entire idea was stressful. the 3 days off (in my case) was wasted trying to get back to being tired at night time and then the party started all over again. The guys all did it because it payed better, in the day almost 20% better… and that’s pretty much it. I guess the medical world is still like that to some extent but I think I’d opt for 12 on 12 off, or 4-10’s (which is pretty good) over rotating.

I just don’t know how you would do it without a pump and several modifications so your basal for sleeping wasn’t too high for your basal when you’re working. and then you’d have to swing it every time there was a rotation. I have a very old mantra: you can make anything work if you want it to - so I guess you could make this work with effort and by trying. I hope it works for your lifestyle, best of luck to you!

Hello, I am an RN too. I did shift duties before from 7 to 7 x3 times a week and my diabetic management was great. But I hated night shifts because it disturbed my sleep, when I am off I could not sleep at night so i come to morning duty without sleeping so this what was difficult, sleepless nights. I used to experience panic attacks without knowing what they were.
Because of that I requested a transfer from the ward, now I work in the out patient department in the same hospital.
But I regret leaving the ward and the 12 hour shifts. I left the ward because of my emotional issues ( anxiety and panic attacks) and not because of my type 1 diabetes.
I am planning to return again to the wards and the 12 hr shifts.
For you I suggest you request a regular duty like few nights and more mornings.

Wishing you the best

I done rotating shifts for about six months and my g’s were all over the place because of stress that was causing and lack of sleep I was getting if you do rotating shifts be careful and watch your bg’s closely

I’ve never worked a rotating shift but for a couple months this past summer we needed people to stay 24/7, so I was signed up for a bunch of overtime/overnight shifts. Usually I’d have to come in on my weekend from 10:30 pm to 3:30 am, but sometimes I’d have to work from 3:30 am to 5:30 pm or from 8:30 am to 10:30 pm (typical workday’s 8:30 to 5:30 Mon-Fri, 6:30 on Sat/Sun). I was expecting a lot of lows from being more active than usual at night, but it wasn’t all that bad. The hardest part was that it messed up my schedule and I had a hard time remembering to take my lantus. One night I was so tired I decided to take a nap and set an alarm for 9:30 pm. I woke up and left for work on time, but halfway there I realized that I hadn’t taken my lantus and had to turn back.

Hi. I worked rotating shifts in retail (5am - 10pm) and had a really hard time staying regulated. My meals were at all different hours and my sleep patterns were off. I went on the pump at my endo’s suggestion, to try to get better BGs, but it didn’t help as much as I’d hoped it would. As others have noted, pay close attention to your BGs if you decide to do this. Check frequently!!!

Also, my endo had helped me set up separate basals for the different shifts I was working. That really helped with my sugars, leaving mainly my sleep patterns to worry about. I still had to check my sugars often to make sure everything was still on track though.

Hope this helps!

T1D 52yrs

I worked as a nurse on nights 7P-7A for 10 years. It was not easy. I developed a schedule where I worked 6 nights in a row, and then would have 8 days off. Working with my endocrinologist, we built a second basal pattern on my insulin pump strictly for nights. I would wake up at my regular time on Thursday morning, but at about 1:00 in the afternoon, I would change my basal pattern and take a 2-3 hour nap. I would wake, eat dinner with my family, and then go to work. On Wednesday morning, when I got out of work for my final shift, I would come home, try to exercise, and eat, and stay up until 1:00 in the afternoon. I would take a brief nap, change my basal back to my other pattern, get the kids off the bus, have dinner with everyone, and go back to bed at about 8:00.

As I said, this was not easy. I do not believe I could have done this with multi-daily injections. I was lucky enough to have an insulin pump, an endocrinologist willing to help, and a supportive family.

No matter how you go about working these rotating shifts, you will need to set up a schedule for blood glucose testing. Your collegues need to be on board with the frequency of testing. I always brought it back to patient safety. If I wasn’t safe, the patient’s were not safe.

Hope this helps.