When you work a schedule that demands that you work a night shift, it is no easy task. Not only due to the difficulty of staying awake throughout a night on the job. It is also difficult due to having a flipped schedule than your family, friends, and loved ones. We want to help make things a little bit easier on you. Which is why we are sharing our top tips on how to get better sleep and stay awake during your night shift.
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Occasional Night Shifts vs Always Working Nights:
One thing we are always preaching when it comes to maintaining great sleeping habits, is to be consistent. This is just about impossible for you if you are having to periodically do a 180 with your sleep schedule. Which is a silver lining to always working nights, while it is different from the usual work/sleep schedule for most people, the consistency does have it’s benefits for your sleep and energy.
However, only having to work nights every once and a while, it allows you to keep a normal work sleep schedule which allows you to see friends and family during usual hours. There is not doubt that each has their own benefits. However, if you can choose when to schedule night shifts, bunching them together can make it an easier transition in and out than having them sprinkled throughout your usual work schedule.
Blackout Curtains & Eye Mask:
Daylight is an enemy to all those who work night shifts. When you are having to sleep throughout the day you need to block out daylight. Or else you will end up getting little to no sleep because the sunlight will simply keep your mind alert.
Blackout curtains are a great way to shut out light and get some much needed rest. Eye masks are also a great option as they are cheaper, and portable so you can take them anywhere you need to get some shut-eye.
White Noise Machines & Ear Plugs:
Another great tip for getting great sleep when you work nights is to block out unwanted noises. A noise machine is a great way to do this. White noise drowns out noise disruptions from outside. Many noise machines can play a large array of different noises from nature sounds to static.
If that simply isn’t enough to block out the rest of the outside noises, then ear plugs are a great backup. If your roommate refuses to quiet down or the construction is driving you crazy, ear plugs are your go to.
Learn more about the many benefits of white noise in our post: Pros & Cons of White Noise Machines
Again, staying healthy is important in order to have as much energy as possible. When you work out regularly not only will it help you to wake up in the morning, and get to sleep after work. It will also increase your stamina.
If your work is physically demanding, even if it most consists of walking around or standing, exercise can give you the ability to do your job for longer without tiring out.
Learn more about how exercise can help your energy and sleeping habits in our post: Exercise & Sleep.
Find Ways to Stay Positive:
When your schedule is turned upside down, it can get rather isolating. When you have time off, often your family and friends are all busy either sleeping or at their day jobs/school. Which is why we suggest finding ways to stay positive.
First off, make the most out of the time that you do have with your loved ones. Really soak it up and make sure it is quality time, tv off, phone down and actually talking and bonding together.
Our next suggestion is that you have something you do in your off time by yourself. Whether it is starting a blog, knitting, writing a book, crafting, whatever it is that you really love doing and finally have time to do with all of your new found alone time. By giving yourself something fun and productive to do, this helps to keep you feeling positive and makes the alone time feel a little less isolating.
Don’t Stress Over Lack of Sleep:
There are going to be days when your schedule simply does not work out for getting a full sleep session in before work. Don’t fret too much about it. Yes, you will be tired. However, as long as you don’t make a habit of it, you will get off your shift and get some great sleep afterword.
Stressing about the lack or sleep you’re getting or beating yourself up because you cannot fall asleep, will only make it more difficult to get to sleep. In other words, the stress of needing sleep, can actually keep you awake. So just relax and know that your body can handle running on less sleep than you would imagine.
Think you may be suffering from insomnia? Learn more about it in our post: Guide To Insomnia
Stay Busy at Work:
Night shifts are notoriously slower than day shifts in all different lines of work. Typically, the bulk of busy hours is during the day time. This means the night shift can get a bit boring.
While a slow day is often a welcome break for a rush, it can make it more difficult to stay awake and alert. We recommend creating an in-depth check list of things you can do to stay busy whenever it is slow. Businesses always have something that can be done.
Something to be cleaned, organized, and so on. There are often a number of jobs that are not vital or time sensitive and often get left on the back burner. These are the perfect jobs to knock out whenever things are slow. These kinds of jobs are not always the most engaging, but they are much more helpful with keeping yourself awake than doing nothing at all.
Make Work Friends:
Surrounding yourself with positive people makes a world of difference when it comes to keeping spirits high and passing the time. Which is why we suggest making the extra effort to connect with your coworkers. Especially if they are not who you typically work with during day shifts.
It is going to make surviving night shifts far easier. Even if it only a brief “hello” when passing. Any/all positivity and connection you can get is beneficial.
Talk to Your Roommates:
Whether your roommates are you friends from college, your boyfriend/girlfriend, or your husband/wife and kids. It is vital that you talk to them about what you need during your time working a night shift.
If you are going to be working nights, you need to have understanding and considerate roommates and/or spouse. Which requires an open line of communication. Discussing your work hours with the people you live with and what you need at different days. Quiet time during your daytime sleep hours is likely going to be the most difficult for everyone to navigate. So be sure to discuss ways to communicate when you are sleeping and what you need from them.
Get more tips and tricks on how to sleep with loud roommates and neighbors in our post: Sleep & Noisy Neighbors
Prep Your Bedroom for The Night Shift:
There are a few small changes that you can make to your bedroom in order to maximize your ability to sleep during the day. Blackout curtains are a must, they block out the daylight so you can create a soothing pitch dark sleep environment. A sound machine or box fan is a great way to blur out distracting noises outside of the bedroom.
You may find that there is more sound than you ever thought imaginable throughout the day. Sounds that simply don’t go on at night. Whether it is your neighbor/roommate getting ready for their day, neighbor kids laughing and playing, construction noise, and so on.
Light based alarm clocks, with all of those blackout curtains it can be difficult waking up. Which is why we suggest creating your own sunrise to wake up to with an alarm clock that uses light. A lot of smart lights can also be scheduled to slowly turn on in order to mimic the sunrising. This way you wake up naturally.
Click the link to learn how to turn your bedroom into the ultimate sleep space: Creating The Perfect Sleeping Space
Create Your Bed Time Routine:
When you get off of work and the sun is shining and the birds are chirping, even when your body and mind are exhausted, it can be difficult to get to sleep. This is because our circadian rhythms kick in and tell us that it is time to wake up and get moving. This is engrained in our biology and it makes it hard to go to sleep.
Which is why we suggest having a routine that you do each night you finish working to help yourself prepare for sleep. The routine will help reinforce that it is indeed time to go to sleep.
- Close all your blinds
- Make a cup of caffeine-free tea
- Listen to a favorite relaxing podcast
- Turn on your favorite music to sleep to
- Take a shower/bath
Get more tips on relaxing activities to do before sleep in our post: Stress Free Nightly Routine
Eating & Drinking:
When you are not used to working a night shift, caffeine can seem like literal life line. Just be mindful of how you use it. Try to restrain from drinking caffeine 3-4 hours before you are hoping to get back to sleep.
Caffeine can remain active in your system for up to 8 hours and you are going to need to get to sleep. Keep in mind that it is physically possible to create a new sleep schedule, and work nights without caffeine. (Although, it is arguably much more difficult to do.)
Learn more about how to cut out caffeine with our post Caffeine Free: The Benefits of Quitting Caffeine
Hydration is important in order to maintain energy. When you are dehydrated it in much harder to remain alert. Dehydration can happen to just about anyone and it isn’t always easy to keep track of how much you’re drinking. Especially when your schedule is all topsy turvy.
We suggest keeping a water bottle with you that has a way to track how much you have had to drink. Also, drinking the cold water periodically can be helpful when trying to stay awake.
Eat Breakfast Before Work & Dinner Before Bed
This sounds completely normal until you put it in context with a night shift. However, we are all creatures of habit, which means different meals make us feel like it is either time to wake up or get ready for sleep.
Which is why even if you are waking up at 5pm and getting off work at 7am, eat breakfast foods at 5pm and dinner food at 7am. This will help to reinforce your new sleep schedule. It also keeps your routine somewhat normal, even when it is entirely turned around.
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Eat a Healthy Balanced Diet
Eating healthy is vital for anyone working night shifts. When we stay up late for some reason eating cheap fast food and junk foods become far more tempting. However, they often make you feel sluggish. When you are unhealthy it becomes more difficult to maintain energy. Which of course makes working a night shift far more difficult.
Packing small healthy snacks that you can eat on throughout your shift is a great way to keep yourself moving without weighing yourself down. Big meals tend to make you feel tired, while healthy snacks give you good bursts in energy when you need them without weighing you down.
Click to read: Best & Worst Foods to Eat Before Bed.
Night Shift Sleep Tips – Final Thoughts:
Working throughout the night is no easy task. Just about anyone who has worked through night shifts will know that it is not for the faint of heart. There are very good reasons as to why it tends to pay more. Most people have a hard time working these kinds of hours. However, it can be a great way to make extra money if you are willing and able to take on the night shift. If you do, we hope these night shift sleep tips help you get the best sleep possible so that you can continue working hard and feeling great.
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.