Night owl on day shift

by kataraang kataraang, BSN Member Nurse

Specializes in critical care ICU. Has 6 years experience.

*I have used the search feature to look for this type of thread -- I haven't found it but I may be wrong

I am a new grad who just got a 7am-7pm shift at a job that is 45 minutes away (without traffic). I am a night owl. It's 2am right now for me.

I'm reasonably good at waking up early. But I did oversleep for clinical twice during nursing school and I am terribly afraid of it happening when I start this job. I have a feeling I'll just be instantly fired if I'm late. Or that I'll develop this forever reputation of being unreliable.

Is it just about mental discipline, or is my body truly incapable of maintaining a "normal" sleep pattern? It's been like this since middle school. Habits are hard to break, especially ones that are life long. I don't really want to drug myself to sleep. If I tried willful sleep deprivation until I get to the point that 10pm is my crash point, I wonder if that'd work. Problem is my mind I think. I am most alert late at night. That's when I would write papers, study for tests, work on projects.

One partial solution would be to move closer to work (it can't happen for several months though). I'm just really worried I'll either oversleep for work...or that I won't be able to sleep because I fear oversleeping.


Sour Lemon

Has 12 years experience. 5,016 Posts

Get a back up alarm. Get two back up alarms. Get as many back up alarms as it takes.

I am also a night person. Although I can make myself wake up in the morning, I feel physically ill and nauseous until about noon at the earliest. I'm currently working nights (per diem), but I have to wake up at 6AM to take care of my baby. I should be asleep right now, but my mind is in overdrive so I'm not ....even though I know I'll be miserable in the morning.

Good luck to you and hopefully you can switch to nights, eventually. Most people seem to want days and get stuck on nights.


blondy2061h, MSN, RN

Specializes in Oncology. Has 15 years experience. 1 Article; 4,094 Posts

I would imagine if you're on a traditional hospital unit (which 7-7 usual is), it should be fairly easy to ask your manager if there's a night shifter who would want to work day shift and you could have their night shift job. I worked days for awhile and decided nights worked better for me. I told my manager and three people volunteered to switch with me.

kiszi, RN

Has 9 years experience. 1 Article; 604 Posts

I understand you not wanting to take anything, but it can be hard to go against your body's natural tendency. Melatonin has been a lifesaver for me on both days and nights.

Another idea is to Google some tips about getting good sleep. Some to try if you haven't already: avoid caffeine several hours before bed, don't eat right before bed, turn off electronics (the hardest one for everyone!) an hour or more before bed, develop a relaxing bedtime routine, etc. etc.

It may be but a small consolation, but many people who work 12s will tell you they are so tired after a shift that sleep comes pretty easily!

NurseGirl525, ASN, RN

Specializes in ICU. 3,663 Posts

I'm the same way. I literally get nauseous in the morning when I have to get up at 5am. I'm actually pretty happy I'm going to nights soon again. For some reason my body naturally likes to go to sleep at 5am, so I spend many nights tossing and turning and then right when my alarm is about to go off, I fall asleep.

You may need to talk to your doc. Your body may have its days and nights mixed up. Sometimes I have to break down and take something. There's nothing wrong with that.

kataraang, BSN

Specializes in critical care ICU. Has 6 years experience. 129 Posts

It may be but a small consolation, but many people who work 12s will tell you they are so tired after a shift that sleep comes pretty easily!

I had not considered that at all! That is so true. I bet the shift will tire me out so I can't stay up late without extreme difficulty.



462 Posts

What about one of those alarm clocks that has a light attached to simulate day light? They gradually wake you up by getting brighter which helps your body wake up. Avoid light from computers and TV after 8 pm too as it can affect your circadian rhythms.

Kitiger, RN

Specializes in Private Duty Pediatrics. Has 43 years experience. 1,698 Posts

Darken your bedroom to help you fall asleep. It can be done cheaply with cardboard and aluminum foil over the windows.

I agree that there are probably night shift workers who would love to trade with you.



70 Posts

As my username indicates, I empathize with you. Day shifts are my nemesis. Shudder. Clinicals are bad enough.

You mentioned you've been a night-owl since childhood & I have been too. I was eventually diagnosed with Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder, a circadian rhythm issue, making me basically a biologically obligate nocturnal animal. I can do "one-off" early mornings, like school clinicals, but no amount of melatonin or sleep-hygiene will make a full-time day-shift position possible. I have a letter of explanation from my sleep doctor/neurologist, requesting all reasonable accommodations be made, but I never really use it, since I don't apply to day shift positions. I've also avoided swing-shift positions for that reason, although I could probably request a permanent swap with a day-shifter.

I haven't got any practical advice, but I do wish you the best of luck going forward! I'm always rooting for my fellow night-owls.

Edited by NightOwlGirl

wishiwereanurse, BSN, RN

1 Article; 265 Posts

Your post is very timely, after 6 years of night shift I finally took a dayshift position (doing it for mt daughter because I love her to pieces!) At 2pm, my whole being just wants to shut down. And it is a struggle because at 2pm i find myself debating on whether or not I should drink some caffeine. When i worked nights, I would drink coffee at 7am and go to sleep at 9am. No problem. I am considering returning to nights, but I will give it a try for 90 days.

Kitiger, RN

Specializes in Private Duty Pediatrics. Has 43 years experience. 1,698 Posts

When switching from days to nights, the nurse has the support of co-workers. We give that new, sleepy nurse some coffee, and then walk her quickly up and down the hall. We understand.

When switching from nights to days, the co-workers often don't understand. By 2pm I was walking into doors and stumbling over shadows. The day nurses thought that if I would just go to bed on time, I'd be wide awake. It doesn't work that way.

I asked her just how well she would function at 4 in the morning after being up all night!



Has 3 years experience. 13 Posts

I'm the exact same! People think it's super weird that I get physically ill in the morning time if I wake up and have to work a day shift, but I've been a night owl since I can remember. How do you get past the illness if you have to do a day shift? I still struggle with that.