Challenges with Night-Float

Tracey’s View: The first month of night-float can be very hard and depressing.  Living with someone and seeing their face every night to zero-contact for almost a month is challenging. You will feel a ton of emotions: boredom, anger, and sadness. You might not sleep easily either at first too so that you might experience insomnia and exhaustion. These are normal feelings, so to tackle the loneliness, create a schedule of things to keep your mind occupied.  This could be creating a weekly girls night (in or out), see family (if you live close – if not call them), going to work-out in the evenings (there are yoga classes in the evenings that are very relaxing), or create a new hobby. 

Not to mention, by including weekend calls to the list, you may be looking at 4-days (Saturday or Sunday) to spend time with your partner.

When Jake had off, he would stick to his sleep regimen (he would try to sleep during the day and stay up during the night) or sleep even longer, because the night shift really messes with your circadian rhythm.

Jake’s View:  Getting a Saturday AND a Sunday back-to-back is a rare miracle.  It’s called a Golden WeekendMake the most of it!

Night-float is the worst no matter where you are. Going through surgery, on nights it only gets harder as you go up in the PGY level. As you are a year wiser, the intern has to clear everything with you before talking to the Chief. When you are the Chief, you are the 1st person most likely to know if someone needs an operation. Higher PGY Level = more consults/questions = more work.

Depending on the Residency program, night-float can be as long as a week to a month in length. If you work a normal 8-5 job, then you might not see your partner until night-float is over. From my perspective, night-float can be challenging on a relationship, whether it’s s a new developing one or an established one. There could be less intimacy, you may feel like you’re not on the same page, and it could take more effort on both sides with communication or doing things around the house. 

REAL AS IT GETS – I needed a hobby, so I started Eat. Love. Namaste. 

Things to know about night-float: Duration varies. Some programs have a two-month block (two-months on night-float); whereas, others could be less (one-month). Frequency depends on the size of the Residency program and the acuity of the hospital (how many services need to be covered, private practice versus academic, how many attendings on-call, etc.).

Tip: The first month will be the hardest, so prepare yourself on what to expect and keep your mind busy.  Talk to your partner when you can, and create a schedule around his night-float.  Take advantage of his free-days, but also keep in mind that he will need to stick to a sleep schedule for his own health.


If you have tips/advice on this topic, please leave a comment below!