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Top 11 Tips on Surviving the Night Shift
Top 11 Tips on Surviving the Night Shift
While night shift and day shift workers share similar tasks
and responsibilities, working the graveyard shift requires some significant
adjustments. Adapting to a different sleep schedule and workplace atmosphere
can lead to increased stress levels and sleep disturbance.
Stay alert at night and sleep well during the day with these
11 ways to survive the night shift!
1. Stay hydrated –
Do yourself a favor and keep hydrated throughout the night. Drinking water will
keep you energized and functioning during that long shift. If you struggle with
dehydration, keep a water
bottle with you at all times, track your water intake with an app or
to drink more water.
2. Drink caffeine
wisely – Coffee can be your best friend when you’re working the night shift,
but you don’t want to overdo it. Plan ahead with your caffeine, and try to
drink that cup of
joe earlier on. Avoid consuming caffeinated beverages during the second
half of your shift, as you may have trouble sleeping when you get home.
3. Eat regularly – And
by this, we mean real food, and not
the kind you find in vending machines. As tempting as that bag of chips may be,
it’s important that you eat healthy during your work shift. Healthier
snacks and meals give you the stamina and energy you need to make it
through a long night. Choose items that will provide a boost of energy and
won’t have you crashing later on. To stay healthy, keep a lunch
tote stocked with healthy snacks and regularly eat throughout your shift to
satisfy cravings and remain full.
4. Socialize with
your coworkers – Bonding with your coworkers not only helps the shift go by
faster; it also improves communication in your department or facility. Making
friends during your work shift gives you someone you can rely on when you need
assistance or have questions. Disagreements or tension will only make your
shift more difficult, so it’s important that you reach out to coworkers and
show an interest in them.
5. Exercise when you
can – When you’re a hardworking healthcare professional, exercise can seem
like an unattainable feat. But it is possible with considerable effort. Working
out can fight off fatigue and improve your mood. Find time for exercise during
breaks or before work to increase energy levels. You could climb a set of
stairs, dance to a song or even take a brisk walk to the cafeteria. Find out
whatever works for you and stick to a routine. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes,
so staying active is never an issue.
6. Make it home
safely – It is never a good idea to drive home exhausted. To stay awake
while driving, many individuals will blast the AC or turn the radio volume up,
but this is not a solution. If you’re feeling tired after a long shift,
consider taking public transportation. Another option is carpooling with a
coworker and keeping up a steady conversation with the driver so you both stay
alert. You may be in a rush to get home, but it’s always better to be safe than
7. Sleep well – I know, easier said than done, but sleeping well can mean
the difference between a horrible night and a good one. We recommend aiming for
about 8 hours of sleep. If you have trouble sleeping during the day, you should
create an environment conducive for sleeping. The main goal is to make your
bedroom as dark and quiet as possible.
You could hang up blackout curtains to keep out any light or
power down any distracting devices. Block out any disruptive noises or light
with earplugs or an eye mask, and steer clear of alcoholic or caffeinated
beverages close to bedtime. These drinks will only disrupt your sleep cycle and
leave you feeling tired. Remember to always make sleep a priority, or you’ll
regret it later.
8. Balance home life
with work life – Creating a healthy balance between home and work
responsibilities can be difficult when you work the night shift. You may feel
as if you’re constantly out of the loop, or you might have trouble meeting up
with friends or staying in touch with family members. When you work odd hours,
you have to plan family gatherings and outings in advance. Let your loved ones
know your schedule, so they know the best time to reach you and they can better
understand your work commitments.
When you struggle on the home front, try out these helpful
if you can’t see family or friends in person, keep in contact via texts,
emails or phone calls whenever possible.
- Leave notes
or write on bulletin boards at home to communicate with your significant
other and/or children.
- Plan a
date night at the end of each work week so you have something to look
9. Eat a healthy meal
before your shift – If possible, eat a healthy, well-balanced meal before
your work shift. Eating before work will keep you full and satisfied for longer
and will curb any cravings. Your facility may have a cafeteria, but if healthy
food options are few and far between, you may be better off preparing your own
10. Wear sunglasses –
Research has shown that bright morning light can keep you awake. If you
want to sleep right after your work shift, wear sunglasses on your way home,
even on a cloudy day. Keeping sunglasses on will limit your exposure to
sunlight and, hopefully, help you to sleep when you get home.
11. Turn up the
lights – We’ve already mentioned that light can keep you awake, which is
why it’s a good idea to keep the workplace as bright as possible. Light may be
your worst enemy after work, but it’s great for staying awake during work
hours. You can turn on the lights in your office or purchase a special light
box to promote alertness.
Managing the night shift can be challenging, but never
impossible. Whatever you do, don’t despair. Concentrate on sleeping well and
maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and you’re sure to see an improvement in your
work performance and well-being!
What strategies and tips have worked for you? We’d love to
hear your suggestions!