How To Not Just Survive, But THRIVE While Working Night Shifts

How To Not Just Survive, but THRIVE While Working Night Shifts

1. Keep A Consistent Sleep Schedule

Sometimes important events happen that interrupt your sleep schedule but make it a habit to maintain a consistent sleep pattern on a normal basis. Whether you prefer to go directly to bed when you get home or stay awake for a while, follow that schedule.

2. Mimic night during the day

Make your bedroom as dark as possible with room-darkening shades or curtains. Wear a sleep mask to keep your eyes from sensing light; when the brain perceives darkness, it produces melatonin, the sleep hormone. Ear plugs can help by keeping daytime noises out. You may also try to sleep to the sound of white noise machine through a phone app, which blocks noise with soft moving air.

3. Be Cautious With Caffeine

Caffeine (coffee, tea, and energy drinks) can give you a boost at the start of your shift and can be tempting to continue throughout the night. But cut it off at least four hours before the end of your shift so you’ll be sleepy when you get home

4. Eat A Good “Breakfast” Before Work

Just like your mother told you, you need fuel to get through the day…or in this case, the night. Avoid sugar and refined foods before and during the shift. Bring protein, nuts, fruits, and vegetables for snacks. Small portions every few hours will keep your blood sugar stable. Be sure and stay hydrated, too.

5. Lighting Is Important

To “fool” the brain, you’ll need a source of light during the shift. Most facilities dim the lights at nigh but try and keep lights turned up at your workstation and in the break room. On your way home you should put on sunglasses to reduce direct daylight, which can stimulate your brain.

6. Keep Busy All Night

Traditionally, the night shift has some responsibilities that support the busier day shift.  It’s a good idea to bring something to do for slow nights. A book or magazine, Sudoku puzzles, or simple knitting—activities that can quickly be set aside to help a resident—can keep the brain occupied.

7. Get To Know Your Co-workers

Time goes more quickly when you’re engaged with others. Help each other out; with fewer resources than during the day, you’ll get creative when a new glitch pops up. You’ll also have a chance to get to know each other; lifelong friendships develop on the night shift.

8. Build A Community Of Support

Working nights can be stressful on you, as well as your family and friends. When you’re on the opposite schedule from others, it takes awhile for them to realize that because you’re “home” during the day doesn’t mean that you are available. You need sleep. Remind them not to call unless there is an emergency. Specify certain times for communication. Use notes and bulletin boards to post updates. Plan family time and “date nights” for your days off.

9. Use Melatonin Supplements

Melatonin supplements or over-the-counter sleep aids, available at drug stores and pharmacies, can be useful. However, if you find you need to take something on a regular basis, it’s time to get help. Before using sleeping pills, make an appointment with your primary care provider. He or she can evaluate your overall health, including other possible sleep conditions, such as sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome

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Bonus Tip: Do not use alcohol for sleep; it may seem to get you to sleep faster, but it can keep you awake through the night as it metabolizes.