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your night shift sleep must's and never's

Specializes in ER.

Oh.... boy. My vacation is almost over and for these past few weeks, I have been sleeping pretty good (5-6 hrs w/o waking up vs waking q2 hrs) and my energy and mood has been higher, but night shift can rumble it down :*(

What are your dos and don'ts of night shift and good "day" sleep? I have been making some lists:

-No coffee after 2300

-Keep same sleep schedule on off days (takes some accommodation)

-Melatonin (not fan of any use of Rx though...)

What else do you ladies and gents have in mind? What are your practices that keeps your day sleep pleasant? By the way, Ativan diffuser is not the right answer :) Thanks.


Has 25 years experience.

Daily exercise.

Blackout shades.

A designated sleep area- no sacking out on a chair.

meanmaryjean, DNP, RN

Has 40 years experience. Specializes in NICU, ICU, PICU, Academia.

Absolute darkness - blackout shades, tension rods upright in the window space to tuck them behind so NO light enters your room

NO electronics in the bedroom - a good rule for any type of sleep, day or night

White noise- a box fan placed closest to the noise source (ie: by the door if it's house noise, by the window if it's outside noise)

Cool room-

If you're driving home from a night of work- sunglasses ON before you leave the building until your butt hits the bed: Sunlight hitting the retina suppresses melatonin secretion and drives wakefulness.

I teach a class on adapting to shiftwork. Participants tell me how much of a difference these things make. I know- I've worked nights for over three decades!


Has 5 years experience. Specializes in NICU.

^^^ THIS^^^ 14 yrs of night shift and these are essential

That Guy, BSN, RN, EMT-B

Has 6 years experience. Specializes in Emergency/Cath Lab.

Dont wake up to go into any meetings/classes/training the night you work. Now if the higher ups could get that through their heads.

light breakfast before I hit the hay - if I don't inevitably I wake up hungry around noon...if I'm having a really tough time I will take 25 mg of benadryl...

rearviewmirror, BSN, RN

Specializes in ER.

Thanks for all the inputs so far. Thankfully I have smaller window so 2 layers of blackout curtains pretty much blocks out all sun light even during noon.

I have not tried the sun glasses thing because really never knew that it would affect so much. I will definitely do this! Thank you all

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

Has 14 years experience. Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych.

I've been a 12-hour night shifter for years...

I can drink coffee as late as 3:00am and still be asleep by 9:00am once I arrive home. If I have many things to do or appointments to attend, I can just take a nap at 1:00pm, awaken at 4:30pm and be fin with just the short nap. Your mileage may vary. :)

Don't have children ! Just kidding. I never sleep. I have 4 month old and went to nights to avoid childcare. I just take one shift at a time. I feel like a zombie after my shift but once o get a few hours of sleep the night after Im able to bounce back. I work 2 nights a week and spread them out.

Jules A, MSN

Specializes in Family Nurse Practitioner.

I drank coffee all night long but as soon as I got home I would always eat a decent breakfast and go right to bed. No talking on the phone, no checking the computer. I also I took a long 3-4h nap on the day I started my first night shift which usually required Benadryl.

I keep a similar schedule on nights off- bed by 2-4 AM so I never quite fully flip my schedule.

My husband bought me some yellow nerdy-looking sunglasses that block blue light and I wear those about 2 hours before I am ready for bed on my nights off.


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