Working night shift, difficulty sleeping during the day!

Nurses Stress 101


I work night shift, I've been working this schedule for about 6 months now. When I get home around 7:30-8am, I am in bed by 8:30, then what felt like an 8 hour or more sleep turns out to be 3 1/2-4. I wake up at 12pm the latest, and I can't go back to sleep, especially when I have to work that night later on.

I've heard people taking benadryl, sleeping pills and such. Not a big fan of putting medication in my body at all. I rarely even take tylenol for a headache, so I'll hate to have to take benadryl every time after work, or sleeping pills just to get some sleep, because come around 1am-4am of my shift, I am SLEEPY! To the point of no possible return.

What do some of you night shifters do to get into a deep sleep, and be well rested enough, besides benadryl(which I may just have to end up getting)-__-

Some of the coworkers on my floor go to sleep like at 12pm-7pm, but when I get home I'm exhausted from the drag between 1am-4am, I miss my bed and just wanna sleep.

I work 7p-7a so I can't sleep 12-7. I am usually in bed by 0830 and sleep until 1600-1630. I take 2 ibuprofen before going to sleep, I know it sounds silly but it helps my achy legs and relaxes me. And I have black out curtains in my bedroom so it's dark all day to me. I'll wake up around noon to go to the bathroom but usually have no problem going back to sleep!

Specializes in Emergency.

About a year and & half into nocs as a nurse (did a year of nights when I was in school & had no issues), I started having the same problems. My only solution was to leave nights & the floor I loved, for a days position on a floor that I'm rather ambivalent about. Best choice I ever made.

A hot shower really helps. So does a hot cup of cocoa, and taking half an hour to unwind after walking in the door. Of course, there are always those days when you just can't get decent sleep. I work 12-hour nights, and always make sure to sleep at least 12 hours before my first night shift of the week -- I go to bed at 2 am and get up around 1 or 2 pm. That way I have some sleep in my system to carry me over if I can't sleep well the next afternoon before I have to work.

I've been working third shift for past 3 1/2 yrs 1830-0630. I usually get home and in bed by 0715 and sleep until 1500 (unless my daughter wakes me up with silly questions). I don't usually have a problem sleeping when I get home from work, my problem is being awake all night on my nights off. I would try the dark curtains, fan to block out noise, ears plugs.. whatever it takes before taking meds.

I work 10p to 6a with an hour commute. Im always exhausted when I get home. The drive makes me sleepy. I immediately crash as soon as Im home then usually about 12-1 I'm awake using bathroom and have the same problem. Unable to get back to sleep. I have black out curtains, a fan on to block out noise, and it never gets any easier for me. Ive been working nights for over ten years. I have noticed its becoming harder the older I get though and its starting to effect my health and relationships cuz I'm always crabby from never resting well but I feel like I spend a great deal of time in bed!!!! ?

Ive used tylenol pm and even prescription sleeping pills but always have a hang over effect so now I just suffer through. Good luck!

When I did 7 pm to 7 am I just never slept more than 3-4 hrs. It stunk, but I just caught up on sleep on days off.

Specializes in Med/Surg,Cardiac.

Although still a med, I, as well as several coworkers, take melatonin. I keep my room dark and cool. Usually it isn't too bad as long as I don't have to do something during the day. After that, my sleep schedule gets messed up. I'm adjusting too, and although there are day shift positions available on my floor, I don't think I could handle more chaos. Good luck!

Specializes in OB/GYN/Neonatal/Office/Geriatric.

When you wake up are hungry or thirsty? Maybe a very light snack would help. Also, someone recommended I think of nothing but the number "1" until I fall asleep. Over and over just visualize "1". That did help. Eventually I just decided to go to days. Good luck.

Specializes in PeriOp, ICU, PICU, NICU.

You have to have a 'normal' routine as much as possible. If you worked dayshift, would you come home at 1930 and go straight to bed?

I come home at around 0830. Take a shower, eat a light 'dinner' and unwind. I do a load of laundry, pick up, watch some tv, spend time with my kid, etc. I probably go down at 1000-1100 like I would at night and sleep til 1730 no problem. Get up, shower, eat and head on out.

I am rotating shifts right now, so I do the same when I go to days.

I rather be in bed a little bit later than early and wake up very early and be up the rest of the day until the next morning.


Good luck!

Specializes in NICU, ICU, PICU, Academia.

While I COMPLETELY understand not wanting to take meds - for the sake of your health and your patients' safety, sometimes you just have to. I take OTC doxylamine (WalMart and Walgreens both carry it). However, I ONLY take it on days when I have to return to work (in other words, only between two consecutive shifts). That way, I'm only taking it 1-2 times per week (I work 12s) and never develop a tolerance or dependency.

Sleep hygiene is also vitally important. No caffeine after about 2am. Sunglasses on the way home from work (melatonin is supressed by sunlight falling on the retina.) Dark room (blackout curtains), white noise (a fan) and turning your clock to the wall. Also - really important these days, do NOT use your phone as an alarm clock - leave the phone in another room. Post a sign on your door to keep the doorbell from ringing.

Finally - I have threatened my family within an inch of their lives if they wake me up unless the house is on fire, there's enough blood to fill the 4-cup measuring cup, someone's turning blue or Harrison Ford comes to the door. :)

PS - My recent master's thesis was about this topic. I'm working toward becoming a subject expert in night shift issues!

Specializes in OB/GYN, Peds, School Nurse, DD.

I worked about 25 years of night shift before I switched to my current job (school nurse.) I totally sympathize. I had to be very diligent about my sleep hygiene.

*JOB ONE-- Protect your sleep! Do not do housework when you get home. Keep the TV off and don't check email. Nothing that stimulates your mind. Get a boring book to read if you need to. This is not the time to read an exciting mystery!

* Disconnect your door bell and cut off your phones. Friends, family, and telemarketers have no mercy on a night shifter--they simply don't get it.

* Hang room-darkening shades, turn down the heat/AC, wear a sleep mask and ear plugs.

*Turn on a fan.

*If you wake up to use the bathroom keep your eyes closed and go back to bed immediately. Even if you don't feel sleepy, force yourself to lay back down with eyes closed.

*As a last resort, consider Tylenol PM, benedryl or melatonin. I have a child with autism that absolutely benefits from melatonin. Otherwise he doesn't go to sleep until nearly morning. Melatonin doesn't usually make you hungover like Benedryl might. On days off, try to sleep in and do your errands in the late afternoon.

You really have to train your body to accept this night shift schedule. I was like you, so sleepy by the time I got home I HAD to go straight to bed. I never scheduled appointments in the morning or early afternoon. If you have kids, get yourself a cheap cell phone and give the number ONLY to school, so they can get in touch with you. Or have someone else be in charge of that. My DH was the first person to call and he dealt with many minor calls.

Good luck.

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