15 Tips for Surviving Night Shifts
♥ In preparation for working a night shift, you may want to start altering your sleep schedule. Staying up late the night before and waking up late morning/early afternoon is definitely what works best for me. Sometimes this isn’t possible, and when it’s not, I try to make sure that I can have a nap the afternoon before my shift begins.
♥ Resist the urge to drink caffeine drinks all night – your body won’t thank you for it. Water is my favourite, but if it’s not yours, maybe try making some smoothies in advance of your shift, or grab some nice juices/ready-made smoothies from a shop.
♥ When drinking caffeine, plan out the best times to drink it (as a general guide, when you begin your shift and around halfway through, if you drink it later than this, it will effect your ability to sleep during the daytime). Remember that if you do drink caffeine, the energy that you gain will end up disappearing at some point…
♥ Get up and stretch at regular intervals (that is, if your job doesn’t already require you to do so!). If you are able to use your phone, set yourself alarms to get up and go for a walk/stretch. It makes a big difference!
♥ I have a spray bottle that I keep near me to spritz my face with whenever I’m flagging a little bit – the bottle is from a “toning mist” I used a long time ago, but is filled with whatever takes my fancy. It’s usually a toner of some description – I may as well try to do my face some good whilst I’m waking myself up! (For an awesome face mist DIY, check out this Rose Water Face Mist tutorial!)
♥ Eat food. Nice, healthy, filling food. I like to have some salad, a “real” meal (pasta, curry, risotto, etc) and some fruit, personally. On the odd occasion when I’ve given into the junk food monster (hello, crisps, popcorn and chocolate non-stop!) I tend to feel bloated, queasy, sluggish and generally tired. Having a “real” meal tends to make me feel more awake and alert, plus there’s nothing nicer than looking forward to working your way through a homemade curry at 1am!
♥ If you’re able to plan out your work/activities, ensure that the more stimulating work happens at the times you will be the most tired. This should help battle the inevitable drowsiness of completing mundane tasks when you’re already feeling sluggish!
♥ If possible, keep the area you’re working in well-lit, as your circadian rhythms are influenced by light. It also helps to keep you feeling that little bit more alert!
♥ Avoid bright light on your way from work to your bed. If it’s safe to do so, wear dark sunglasses and/or a hat to shield your eyes from sunlight. This will help you to fall asleep more easily when you get into bed!
♥ If you feel unsafe to drive, do not drive. You won’t be doing yourself, or anybody else on the road any favours if you have an accident because you’re sleep-deprived. Call a taxi or phone a friend; make sure that you and the people around you are safe.
♥ If you do drive, try to drive more cautiously/carefully than usual, open your windows if you need a boost of cold air to help you feel a bit more alert, and do not be afraid to pull over for a nap if you decide you are too tired to drive. It’s also a good idea to have a little stretch before getting into the car!
♥ If you struggle to sleep in the daytime, it may be worth investing in black-out blinds, an eye mask or ear plugs. I’ve used all of these things together, as well as not needing to use any of them sometimes. If you are sleeping in a building on a busy main road, and are a light sleeper, I personally think earplugs are a must!
♥ Make sure that the room you’re sleeping is a good environment for sleep. A good thing to remember is that we sleep better in cool conditions, so you may want to adjust the temperature appropriately. Make sure you turn the sound off of your phone, take the batteries out of the doorbell, put the dog outside, warn any other people in the building that you are going to be out for the count for the morning and afternoon, and then snooze to your heart’s content. (I’m only half kidding about the doorbell!)
♥ If you are trying, but just can’t seem to manage to get to sleep, please don’t watch a television/use your smartphone/use a computer. The lights will start waking you up again! Try reading, a spot of yoga or something relaxing, and then give sleep another try. If nothing else, the act of lying down calmly should help to make you feel a little more rested.
♥ Be kind to yourself and your body. Avoid plan days full of activities before or after a night shift – you need time to recuperate! And gently remind your nearest and dearest that you’ve been working all night if they try to get you out and about before you’ve rested yourself. Personally, I’m a huge grouch monster if I don’t get enough sleep, so I’m sure my family and friends wouldn’t want me anywhere near them if I’ve not napped after a night shift!
Please feel free to leave any extra tips or ideas in the comments if you have them, but above all, look after yourself and enjoy the feeling of knowing that as you’re rolling into bed in the morning, most of the people around you will be on their way to work, as you snooze happily into the afternoon!