5 Sleeping Tips for the Night Shift Nurse

If you’re naturally a night owl, working the night shift might seem like a piece of cake! For others, taking a night shift might require a change in lifestyle, routines, and eating habits. Here are five effective tips for getting better sleep so you can tackle that night shift with confidence!

  • Make changes to your sleep environment:

When you sleep during the day, it goes against your body’s natural circadian rhythm. This makes it important to make sure your bedroom environment encourages long, restful sleeps even when the sun is shining.

A good way to help block unwanted noise while you’re sleeping is to invest in a white noise machine or box fan. Also consider hanging blackout curtains to keep your room dark. Set aside at least 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep every 24 hours to maintain good health! Lastly, stress the importance of your rest period to your friends and family to reduce the risk of interrupted sleep.

  • Avoid caffeine:

While you can benefit from drinking coffee, tea or other caffeinated beverages, consuming too much caffeine can have adverse effects on your ability to fall asleep when you’ve returned home. You should try to avoid caffeine at least four hours before you plan to sleep. A great option for those who crave a carbonated beverage, but don’t want the added caffeine near the end of the shift, is flavored sparkling water, which typically contains no added sugars or caffeine.

  • Take a break!

Many hospitals allow night shift nurses to nap during breaks for brief periods of time. Take advantage of those opportunities! Even a 15 minute power nap can give you a boost of energy. If you’re not able to nap, be sure to take breaks during your shift to stay alert.

  • Eat well and drink plenty of water:

Eating a full meal before your shift will help you avoid nausea or bloating, as well as issues associated with blood sugar crashes. Should you get hungry during your shift, keeping your body fueled with wholesome, healthy snacks and plenty of water can help you avoid hitting slumps in your shift.

Keep a water bottle on hand at all times to help you stay awake. Some good snack ideas include almonds, low-fat string cheese and chocolate covered pretzels.

  • Stay on your sleep schedule:

Many nurses try to maintain their night shift sleeping schedule when they are not working. Typically, this involves staying up until 3 or 4 am and going to bed and sleeping in until 11 am or 12 pm.

If you’re nervous about starting a night shift or are struggling on a current night shift, implement these tips into your daily routine! What do you do to make sure you’re at your best during your shift?


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