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August 19, 2019

The Best Sleep Schedule For Night Shift

If you have or are considering changing your work schedule to the night shift, you are going to want to know how to adjust your sleep schedule to the day shift. If you don’t change your sleeping schedule, you will find your self completely exhausted and unable to do your job properly. With all of the technology we have now, it is much easier to change your sleeping schedule then you would think. Continue reading if you would like to read all of our tips on switching and maintaining a healthy reversed sleep schedule.

working the late shift - how to stay awake

How To Wake Up At Night:

Depending on when you’re night shift starts may determine how difficult it is to get up. If you are on a second shift schedule that starts in the evening you may have already been up for several hours. However, if you happen to have a third shift, or a schedule that allows you to sleep right before work this section is for you. Regardless of whether you work the night shift these tips will help you wake up and stick to a great sleep schedule.

Create Your Own Sun Light

waking up naturally even at nightThere is a reason why it is so very difficult to wake up when it is pitch dark. This is because your body is sending signals to your brain that it is time to be asleep. When the sun comes up outside your bedroom window, it sends a signal to your brain that it is time to rise and shine.

Thankfully there are now many ways you can create your own rising sun in your bedroom. With the use of smart lights like the Philips Hue Go Lights, you can schedule your lights to gradually turn on at a certain time. This simulates the sun rise which will help wake up your body in a more natural way.

Delay Your Diet

wait to eat and then eat lessThe first few days you are making the adjustment, try to refrain from eating when you should be sleeping. Then have a protein filled breakfast at the time you are wanting to wake up. This is one way you can begin to train your body to know when it should be up and running vs when you should be sleeping. When you do eat, make sure it is in small amounts. A large heavy meal can instigate a food coma, so light snacks throughout your shift can make it easier to stay alert.

Take a Shower

early morning showers can help you wake upBy taking a shower when you first get up, you will help wake up your body. It is a gentle way to ease yourself into a state of being awake. Starting off with a gentle warm shower can be nice. But if you’re wanting a natural JOLT, try switching the water to cold. This shock to the body won’t be comfortable but it will absolutely wake you up. If you make taking a shower first thing a habit, it can also set the routine which will help you to adjust to the schedule faster.

Stay Up

napping can cause accidental sleep insOnce you get up for your work schedule, stay awake. Do everything you can to avoid going back to sleep until it is time to go to bed again. When you are in the midst of drastically changing your sleep schedule, it is important to avoid naps at all costs. This is because naps will ruin any progress you have made to setting a new sleep schedule. Your body will take advantage of any opportunity for sleep and send you as quickly into a REM cycle as it can.

Watch What You Eat

eat small snacks to avoid the exhaustion from large mealsWhen you are working through the night it can be difficult to avoid the fried foods and sweets. However if you want to stay awake, it is important to eat as healthy as you can. A lot of prepared or food you can get on the go at these hours are going to be fried fast food options that are typically packed full of bad fats, salts, and sugars. Plus they often are very low on the nutrition too.

If you can, we suggest making and packing your own food and bringing it with you. Eating foods that are high in fiber and protein will help to keep you from feeling hungry and grabbing the donuts left out by a coworker.

Turn Up The Music

listen to music to stay awakeSkip the soft songs and go straight for the hard stuff. Pump up the music around you or in your headset. Turning on some music that really pumps you up is a sure fire way to stay awake through your shift. That is how people stay awake at the club till the wee hours of the morning. So why wouldn’t it work for you too? Make a playlist full of your favorite energetic songs before you go to work and then get ready to enjoy yourself. This is also a great way to not only stay awake but add a little bit of fun to your workday.

How To Sleep During The Day:

When it comes to working at night your schedule is more than likely quite different from most others. You still roughly work 8 hours and sleep 8 hours. So what you do with the remaining 8 hours may be divided between before and after work. Rather you come home and take some time for yourself or not your sleep will more than likely still take place during the day. So, why not use some useful tips to make sure you still get the most out of your sleep while on the night shift.

Make It Dark

blackout curtains are perfect for sleeping inBlack out curtains are going to be your very best friend. Sleeping through a beautiful sunshiny day isn’t easy, but with blackout curtains you can create a cool dark sleepy cavern. That way you can cuddle up and sleep deeply, no matter what time of day. If you don’t want to invest in new curtains, you should try an eye mask. Eye masks can also help block out any light and there are a lot of great ones out there. Don’t forget you can always use both for a double dose of darkness. If you are looking for a good eye mask, we love the silk Asutra Eye Pillow because it is so soft and smells like lavender.

Keep It Quiet

earplugs for sleeping during the dayWhen you’re trying to sleep while the rest of the world is just waking up, this means noises are bound to enter into your room from all angles. Whether it is your family, your neighbors, or the birds singing outside of your window, you’re going to want a way to block them out if you’re wanting to get some rest. Thankfully there are a couple of ways to block out the sound.

Earplugs are a great option, they are rather effective overall. But there is the chance that you will miss the sound of your alarm clock. White noise machines are great for blocking out ambient noises while keeping your ears plug free and open for your ringing alarm. You can also use relaxing music to ease your way into sleep and distract from any outside sounds. For a good sound machine that plays both soft sound mixes and white noise, check out the HoMedics Sound Machine we are sure you will love it as much as we do.

If you want music to drown out the outside noises, check out our page Best Music For Sleep.


melatonin helps to change your sleep scheduleIf you are not already familiar with melatonin it is the hormone that your body naturally produces in order to signal your body that it is take to go to sleep. When you are adjusting your sleep schedule, it may take a while for your body to start producing melatonine at the time you typically to go to sleep. For best effect, take melatonin around 20 minutes before you plan on going to sleep. This way it has enough time to kick in by the time you are ready for bed.

Create A Sleep Zone

create the perfect sleep spotIn order to have amazing sleep, your bedroom needs to be designed and used specifically for sleeping. If you use your bedroom as an entertainment room for eating, working out, or watching TV, then sleep might be difficult to get in the mood for. This is why you should attempt to keep all highly stimulating activities outside of the bedroom. This allows your room to become a sacred place for sleep and relaxation. Even your chosen decor can help create a more welcoming sleep environment.

Check out Creating The Perfect Sleeping Space to learn how to turn your bedroom into a premium sleeping environment.

Avoid Caffeine

coffeine and sugar can cause significant drops in energyWe advice that you stop drinking caffeine at least 6 hours before you plan on going to sleep. We suggest 6 hours because studies have shown that this is as long as caffeine can remain active in your system. Which would make it difficult to get to sleep once you get back home. While caffeine can be a helpful tool for getting up and staying awake, it should be used sparingly. (and without sugar) When you drink caffeine with sugar it is much more likely to cause an energy crash. So if you are going to start your shift with some caffeine, skip the sugar.

Learn more about how to cut out caffeine with our post Caffeine Free: The Benefits of Quitting Caffeine 

Sleeping After Night Shift Survival Tips:

Make Friends

night nurses becoming friendsWhen you a starting out your new job or just starting to work the night shift, make an effort to get to know and get along with your coworkers. By having friends and someone to talk to, it will make the shift go much faster and smoother. Lack of sleep can negatively impact concentration, memory, reaction time, and also mood. Which is why there will be more miscommunications during a night shift.

This has the potential to create frustrating and even hostile situations. If you make friendly with your coworkers, it is going to be much easier to work through those bad nights together. By keeping communication free and open it can cut down on misunderstandings and make everything run a little bit smoother overall.

Stay Busy

late night construction workersDepending on the kind of job you are doing, staying busy might be incredibly simple or it might take a little more creativity. Either way, having a lot to do will help to keep you alert. Once you begin to slow down, it is much harder to stay awake. If you can find a way to stay busy with something physically or mentally challenging, that is even better.

Giving yourself a bit of a challenge can give you an insensitive to really dig in and keep you engaged and alert. While monotonous tasks might make you bored and more likely to fall asleep. Although there may be some days when you are especially exhausted that a monotonous task is just about all you can handle at the time. Which is also fine, just keep moving.

Keep The Lights Up

keep the lights on at night to stay awakeAs your shift rolls on, it might be tempting to dim the lights down as you work. While this might be tempting because it is so calming and gentle, it can also lull you back to sleep.

So if you find yourself nodding off, turn the lights up nice and bright. This will help you to stay awake and alert through the entirety of your shift.

If your surroundings need to be dark for whatever reason, try to at least keep on a personal light, like an desk lamp.

The Scents of Sleep

scents can help you stay awake and go to sleepScents are very powerful mood shifters. If you have ever gotten a whiff of an smelling salt you know how intense the reactions can be. Not nearly as abrasive as smelling salts, but still incredibly effective, essential oils can help to wake you up or put you to sleep.

If you want a little scent to help energize and wake you up, we love peppermint, eucalyptus, tea tree, cinnamon, ginger, and citrus scents. On the other hand lavender, chamomile, bergamot, vanilla, and soft wood scents are great for gently soothing and sending you off to sleep.

While essential oil diffusers are great to use at home, they are not great for using oils on the go. Rollerballs are an easy way to carry your essential oils with you and you can use them as you like. Check out the essential oils roll on duo by Sacred Life that comes with one for sleeping and one for waking up.

 Avoid Switching Over During Breaks

don't change up your schedule too muchIf you have days off, try not to fully shift back to your old sleep schedule. We understand that everyone has lives that they want to get back to, but it will make it more difficult to go back to your work schedule. Try to treat midday socializing like you would if you worked during the day and got invited to a night on the town.

We know this can be harder said than done sometimes, especially with friends and family members have traditional working hours. But if you are working all night long and then trying to stay awake and socialize all day, something is bound to break. Your body can only take so much exhaustion before it shuts down. So hold off on the plan making and make the time to sleep. It is important for the longevity of your health.

Stay Healthy

exercise and a healthy diet can help you sleep betterOften when you have a switched schedule, healthy habits have a way of flying out the window. Your health should always be of prime importance. If you become unhealthy or even sick, it will be much more difficult to work the night shift. Having a healthy sleeping schedule starts with a foundation of healthy eating and exercise. A few tips for creating a foundation of health: Avoid tobacco products, sugary diets, and highly processed foods. (like anything from those oh so convenient fast food restaurants)

Instead aim for high protein diets, whole foods, and exercise regularly. While there are many different versions of diet and exercise you can subscribe to, finding and sticking to a healthy diet that works for you is what is best. Make sure you also find time to work out in your schedule. You will be surprised at how much better you will sleep if you are eating right and exercising regularly.

Want to know why exercise and diet helps you sleep better? Visit Exercise & Sleep page to learn why.


When it comes to switching your schedule to a night shift, making the initial transition is the hardest part. Once you make it through the transition, it is a lot easier on the other side. The Night shift isn’t easy, but we hope our tips help you to sleep soundly and wake up feeling refreshed. No matter what time of day or night.

how to wake up for the night shift

If you have any questions or simply want to reach out, feel free to Contact Us. We would love to chat and help you out with anything you need.