Switching to night shift sleep schedule


I just started my first nursing job and I'll be doing straight nights. I've only worked one night shift ever during an internship and my sleep schedule didn't work out very well. I decided to stay up all night the day before my shift and finally let myself go to sleep around 8am knowing my shift started 7pm that night. But I didn't fall asleep until noon and only slept for 2 hours. At the time I didn't have a sleep mask or black out curtains so I know that was a big part of the problem. But I was hoping for some advice on what other people have done to get their bodies on a night schedule other than making sure you have a dark room and staying up late the night before. I just want to find an effective way to switch from day schedule to night. Any advice would help!

Specializes in PMHNP.

I take 3mg melatonin sublingual (6mg if I expect a challenge falling asleep)and 50mg benadryl. Keep my room cool and dark with a fan on me. Sleep mask if need be. For back to back nights (8 hour shifts for me) I sleep when i get home at 715am from like 8am til I wake up at like 11-1. Then back to sleep with my sleep cocktail at like 4 or 5pm. I try my best to get a solid 8 hours total sleep.

Kallie3006, ADN

389 Posts

Specializes in Surgical, Home Infusions, HVU, PCU, Neuro. Has 7 years experience.

Set your phone to do not disturb, no matter who knows you work nights someone will call.

Something with constant noise to sleep to, I use the TV, others cant, life revolves around daylight hours this helps the noise of it from waking you.

Black out curtains, and a fan

Don't keep looking at your phone or a clock, the inevitable " if I go to sleep now I have x amount of hours" will take hold and win

Neuro sonic sleep drink works amazing

Specializes in NICU, ICU, PICU, Academia. Has 46 years experience.

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1,381 Posts

It's always difficult going from daylight hrs to nights. To keep your schedule more consistent on your days off, especially if you work 12s, you may want to look into "anchor sleep." Basically you pick 4 hrs of sleep that you keep at the same time no matter if you're working or off (7a-11a)... then you adjust around that for the last 4 hrs (7a to 3p days working, 3a-11a days off).

Good luck!


120 Posts

The night before I start my twelve hour nights I will stay up until about 3 am and sleep until 11 am. Then I have a nap from about 2-4 pm.

I use my black out blinds, white noise machine, and make sure my phone is on silent.

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VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

142 Articles; 9,982 Posts

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 26 years experience.

A couple of the things that helped me sleep during the day (besides blackout curtains and a fan) were a warm bath and a blanket fresh out of the dryer. I'd send my kids off to school around 0800 and do the bath and blanket thing to get ready for sleep around 0900. I slept until my husband came home from work at 1600, which gave me a good seven hours in the sack (the kids got home around 1530 and were old enough to take care of themselves until their dad got home) as well as some quality time with my family. It worked well until night shift got to be too much for my aging body and I had to go to days.

KelRN215, BSN, RN

1 Article; 7,349 Posts

Specializes in Pedi. Has 16 years experience.

When I worked nights, I typically was up for 24 hours on the day of my first night. Woke up like normal at 8am, went into work at 7pm, worked 12 hrs, came home, fell asleep and slept until 12-1pm. Went back to work at 7pm and by the second night I was able to sleep from when I got home until 4-5pm that evening.