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Thoughts on the 3-11 shift: I can't fall asleep afterwards!!


Specializes in Ambulatory Case Management, Clinic, Psychiatry. Has 14 years experience.


Does anyone else have this problem with swing shift: You get home, you want to go to bed, but you stay up for another 2-4 hours unproductively surfing the web and mindlessly snacking?? Maybe you do something else besides surf the web, and the the mindlessly snacking part may be just me;)

Does anyone purposefully NOT work swing shift because of this?

I am deciding between a couple job options and this may be the deciding factor. I've worked swing on and off for the past 4 years and this has always been a problem for me. I like swing *in theory* b/c I am not an early bird/morning riser, but it seems not to be worth it in the long run.

Has anyone been able to combat this successfully?

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych. Has 15 years experience.

I purposely avoid the 2-10pm/3-11pm shift because I was never able to get a routine established while working these hours. If left to my own devices, I would wake up at noon, slowly get ready for work, work my shift, then go home and watch television or surf the net until 4am before settling down to go to sleep.

I was able to forge a routine whenever I worked nights (11-7am) or days (7-3pm), but I wasted a bunch of free time when I was working evenings.

I had the same problem with the 3-11 shift. It would take me a few hours to wind down after I got home. I talked to my sister about it and she suggested that I take me a hot bath instead of a shower and drink some hot tea. I got in the habit of drinking Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime tea sweetened with a little bit of honey and within a week it only took me about an hour and a half to drift off to sleep. Reading a really boring book helps too. hehe. Hope this helps! :yawn:

Worked 3-11 for two years and loved it. I am a night owl, so day shift wasn't too cool. Seemed like I was at work when I was at my best. I usually went to be within an hour of getting home. There were several times that I was up later when I got home, but that was due to losing a patient, or having something bad happen to a patient that I really liked.

If you are having trouble sleeping, watch the caffeine toward the end of your shift. maybe take a shower when you get home so you are relaxed enough to sleep.


Has 1 years experience.

i have the same problem!!! ever since i started working 3-11 i find myself going to sleep later and later!!! so i have been going to the gym right after work to tire myself out. it really has been working or nights that i dont go to the gym i read a book until i get sleepy but just know ur not alone hee hee :D


Specializes in all things maternity.

I totally loved working 3-11 because I am definately not a morning person. But 8 hour shifts are not offered at my job site. So I have been working 3 12 hour day shifts a week.

wonderbee, BSN, RN

Specializes in critical care; community health; psych.

Actually, I love the shift. There's still time during the day to get some "daytime" things done and still be home in time for a bed time that's almost normal. I'm used to getting to bed around 1:30 and don't fault myself for sleeping past 8. But I'm single and have no small children to care for either.

Sunflowerinsc, ADN, RN

Specializes in Med/Surg. Has 46 years experience.

I worked 3-11 for years before 12 hrs shifts. I never tried to go right to bed after I got off work. That is when I did most of my housework. My husband worked that shift also. Then when our son was about 4 years old and up with us at 4 am folding laundry, it dawned on us, can't do this when he is ready for school! And he is a night owl to this day also. Many times he stays at his office working after everyone has gone home. Say he can do better work in the middle of the night.

I would never want to go back to 8 hr shifts but getting up at 5 am is still not my thing .


Specializes in Mental and Behavioral Health. Has 3 years experience.

Everyone has a time of day when they are most creative and able to cope with stress. For me, the early morning is a stress all by itself. Eves are the shift for me. You might have to let your body pick the shift it wants to work. You could force it to work a shift it hates. It may adjust, or it may make you pay.

Neveranurseagain, RN

Has 26 years experience.

I "trained" my self to go to sleep 30 min after arriving home from my 3-11 shifts. I learned progressive relaxation, and learned mindful meditation (Jon Kabet-Zinn) and it worked almost every night. Then when I worked as a paramedic I used the same techniques to fall asleep between calls at night.


Specializes in behavioral health. Has 1 years experience.

I have a love/hate with 3-11.

good: more sleep, later bedtime, no early morning, less stressful busy shift

bad: sleep too much, go to bed too late, get nothing done


I websurf too late as well.


Specializes in pediatrics, pediatric ER. Has 35 years experience.

I worked 3-11 for about 15 years total. I loved it, but it doesn't seem to work if you have a family. When I was

younger, I found myself sleeping more, but less as I aged. You sort of have to make yourself go to bed. I loved

not having to go in early, though. I have been working days for most of the past 15 years. I try to go to bed

early when I have to work the next day also. If you take a nice hot shower before bed, that seems to help me

relax. Also, a cup of sleepytime tea. Good luck!

fuzzywuzzy, CNA

Specializes in LTC. Has 3 years experience.

Hmmm, yes, mindless snacking and surfing the web for hours. Then I toss and turn when I do try to go to sleep. And then I drag myself out of bed at 10 in the morning, and sloooooowly get ready for work all day, between more mindless eating and web-surfing. It's kind of ridiculous. Some people like 3-11 because they can get stuff done before they go to work. I can't get motivated to do anything.

When I worked 7-3 I got up, got my work day out of the way early, then came home and walked the dog, cooked dinner, etc. I got more stuff done. Then when 930-10 o'clock rolled around I'd drift off into irresistible sleep. On my days off I would naturally wake up early.

This is why I just put in for first shift. I like 3-11- I like the work and the people that I work with, and I love that the bigwigs all go home by 5, but it's really no good for me.

I work 3 - 11, also that's y I'm still up right now@ 5:o7 am kinda sucks I have the same problem with going to sleep as well a shower usually helps. And just laying down and trying to go to sleep but the shower has worked for me. Its not an easy timing for a shift try different things like hot shower, drinking warm milk, read boring book, listen to sound scape music, stare @ wall next to bed, try to still mind by not thinking @ all count sheep, backwards, breathe in and out real slow deeply, try to do it same time everyday, u should have better pattern of sleep. Hmmm I should try these things everydat it'll b 6 am soon I'm still up!! Ugghh


Specializes in Home Health, SNF. Has 7 years experience.

I worked 3-11 until a day shift position became available. I found myself wired after work and staying up way too late, reading, watching TV, surfing the net, etc. Then I would basically get up late, and get ready for work. I seemed to have no life outside of work.

I'm now working 8:30 until 5:00 P.M. and it's going much better. You have to choose your shift and have some discipline I guess (I had none:yawn:)

Good luck


Specializes in med/surg, ER, camp nursing. Has 10 years experience.

A nice glass of vino always did the trick. :yawn:

NewRN2008, ASN, RN

Specializes in Ortho; Gyn; Urology; HBOT; Emergent. Has 8 years experience.

I kinda adjust to either day or pm shift. i work mostly the pm shift. i prefer the days now though. i have a drive home though after my shift (40 min) so thats my wind-down time. but there are times though that i am wound up and i sit and watch a movie.

What i did in the beginning, maybe you can try, have a plan for when you go home, either clean a room, or watch a movie or something. that way, you have a plan that you know you are going to do and then your body will wind down naturally. after a while, you will get tired faster and it will get easier.

i never have slept well anyhow, so i do take sleeping pills. but that doesnt matter, because if i am that UP, they dont do anything, so i still come home and have my little 'plan' of things to do before i take and fall asleep.



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