No matter where you work, you’ve probably worked the graveyard shift once or twice in your career. Whether you’re a pilot or a nurse, you know that working nights can take a huge toll on your health. But fear not – if you’re looking to survive your overnight shifts, these nine tips will help:
1. Make a sleep schedule.
Many people suggest staying up for the entire night on the day before your overnight shift and only sleeping in the morning. Although this tip may seem logical, it may not be right for you. If you can’t stay up for the whole night, go to sleep whenever you typically do. Then try to take a nap before your shift, sleep in shorter intervals, or wake up earlier to help prepare yourself for your shift.
2. Stay active during the day.
Before you take your pre-work afternoon nap, remain active as often as possible. Planning activities to keep you busy will help you keep moving until you’re ready to sleep. Packing your mornings with activities will help you fall asleep faster, especially if you need to sleep at an abnormal time.
3. Meal-prep when you’re off from work.
Working overnight shifts can cause erratic eating patterns. For instance, after you finish your work, you may not have the energy to eat in the morning, which will leave you tired for the rest of the day. However, planning your meals beforehand can help you stick to a schedule. Map out what you’re going to eat each day, and be sure to include three meals and at least two snacks. During your shift, don’t overeat. Instead, pack some soup or fluids to keep you hydrated and energetic.
4. Establish a new self-care routine.
Working at night means that you can no longer do face masks, take showers, or watch Netflix at night. Still, make sure to plan out some self-care before each late shift. For example, you may decide to exercise before work or occasionally treat yourself to a coffee. As long as your self-care makes you feel ready for work, you’re on the right track.
5. Don’t arrive at work too early.
It’s best to try to arrive around five to ten minutes before your shift. If you do, you won’t get tired of your work environment before you even have to clock in!
6. Stay as busy as possible when you’re at work.
Once your shift starts, take on as many different tasks as you can in order to stay awake. Whether you count inventory or organize supplies, you’ll soon feel less drowsy!
7. Take a quick nap during your breaks.
Whether your breaks are 30 minutes or a full hour long, it’s important to use your time wisely. Catch up on sleep if you need to, but don’t forget to set an alarm!
8. Only drive to work if you feel comfortable.
Sure, some job locations may require a longer commute, and driving may feel like a more convenient option. However, if you’re not comfortable driving after or before an overnight shift, it’s better to take the bus.
9. Know your limits.
Since overnight shifts can be detrimental to your mental and physical health, know your limits. If you know you can’t do more than a certain amount of overnight shifts in a row, inform your manager about your situation and allow them to schedule you accordingly. After all, your health is more important than your job.
Whether you’ve worked graveyard shifts for years or you’re currently working your first overnight job, it’s important to know how to make your shifts go smoothly. These tips will help you make the most of your overnights so you’ll stay healthy, happy, and refreshed on the job!