1st time 3rd shifter needs advice


I'm a new grad who finally found a job at a LTC/rehab facility. I picked 3rd shift (2230-0630) because I figured I could still be super involved in my kids lives who are 5 and 6. My only problem is this: I have never worked an overnight shift in my life. I have no idea how to prepare for the sleep cycle (like should I take a nap the day I have to work my first night shift?) I really want this to work out because I think it is in the best interest of my family. Maybe I'm wrong but I just don't know. Any seasoned 3rd shifters have any tips and tricks to survival of the graveyard?

Specializes in ED, ICU, MS/MT, PCU, CM, House Sup, Frontline mgr. Has 15 years experience.

I love working the "Third Shift", aka NOCs, aka the Night Shift! A big part of the reason I became a nurse is because of the existence of night shift. It is perfect for spending time with family, participating in activities, and taking on other obligations. At some point I will have no choice but to work day shift due to the demands related to career mobility, but for now, night shift works very well for me! With that said, I have heard everything under the sun to get the proper amount of sleep while working nights.. Try as many as you can and see what works for you:

1.) Sleep when you get home right away and get up in the afternoon.

2.) Workout when you get home first (it makes you energetic but also helps make you sleep deeply), then sleep, and then get up late afternoon early evening.

3.) Stay up until the afternoon then sleep until right before work.

4.) Sleep when you get home for a few hours, get up, and then finish sleeping until right before work.


****Sleep whatever schedule during the day on your days to work, but sleep a normal night on your nights off.

****Sleep whatever schedule, but workout before going to work to give yourself a natural energy boost.

****Sleep whatever schedule and be sure to stay on that sleep schedule on your nights off.

Do not forget to keep your room dark and cool to promote sleep... Also drink plenty of water, workout (even if it just means to take walks), do not eat a heavy meal or drink caffeine prior to sleeping, turn off your electronics, notify family and friends of your sleep schedule, and be positive (focus on your reason (s) for working nights).

Again welcome and good luck! :)

Mr. Murse

403 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care/Vascular Access. Has 12 years experience.

there are countless threads on this topic. do a quick search and you'll find plenty of advice.


186 Posts

Has 3 years experience.

My husband just went back to midnights (police officer). What we have found works best is that he goes to bed ASAP after getting home in the morning. I bought dark curtains for our bedroom, which helps, but in the summer, when people are out mowing and weed-whacking and such, he sleeps in the basement, where is it very cool and dark, and you can't hear the outside world as much. He told his family and friends (multiple times PRN) to please not call before 5 PM unless it's a bona fide emergency. (He gets up before 5, but this gives him a chance to wake up and have some coffee before his phone starts ringing.) He only naps before work if his schedule gets messed up. I'm sure you will figure out what works best for you. Good luck!