Tips for staying alert during night shifts


I am going to be precepting a few night shifts as I finish up my last semester in my RN program, I have experienced a couple night shifts during my previous clinicals and I always got pretty tired and mentally foggy around 3am, does anyone have any tips on staying awake and alert, besides coffee?

Specializes in Rehab, Ortho-Spine, Med-Surg, & Psych. Has 5 years experience.


I work night shifts. Before my first night shift of the week: I take a power nap of 3-4 hours :sleep:, wake up 2 hours prior to my shift :woot:, take a shower, then drive to work. I don't drink my coffee until around midnight, which is usually when I'm able to sit down to do my charting. It keeps me awake the rest of the shift.

If I don't take that nap, I get sleepy around 3am... :bored: just like you said, even if I drink coffee. :coffee:

Esme12, ASN, BSN, RN

4 Articles; 20,908 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care, ED, Cath lab, CTPAC,Trauma. Has 43 years experience.

Nap when you can before work. When at work and get groggy...get up take a walk. I used to brush my teeth, fluff, wash my face and take a quick walk.

Specializes in Telemetry, Primary Care. Has 8 years experience.

I work night shifts. Before my first night shift of the week: I take a power nap of 3-4 hours...

Exactly what I do too! I'm a sleeper so even if I got 8+ hours of sleep the night before, my body just loves to sleep so I am in bed for nap for nightshift right at 2pm. I know it's bad, but I drink a Monster energy drink every shift (don't worry, I only drink them when I work and only one each which is 3 times a week) whereas coffee doesn't do much. If I'm feeling groggy before going to work, I'll get espresso from Starbucks. But yes, I remember my first several shifts and even to this day 3am-4am is the crappy hour at work and it'll happen even if you are used to night shift haha. I had a coworker that took his break at that time and would walk around outside to wake himself up from the cold and exercise.