Staying Awake During the Night Shift

By Kate West

(originally published December 2010 on

What you need to do:

·      Get quality sleep
·      Maintain quality lifestyle
·      Exercise and eat right

It’s been a rough year and you are very, very tired of looking for work and hearing about rough it is out there. You figure you’ll do just about anything to start working again and start paying some bills. Then just after you hang up on your last credit collector, you finally get terrific news – you’re hired! But the catch is, it’s the night shift. Ugh. So now what?

Having just started my very first night shift, I can attest that it's not easy to transition into the night world. The rest of the world lives in the daytime and you’re busy counting sheep then. There may be a few die-hard party friends who are up for a drink when you get off work, but you might not be. So you’ll have to adjust your lifestyle.

For one thing, make sure you have quiet uninterrupted sleep in a dark room. Get heavier curtains and earplugs if you have to. Turn off the cell phone.

To keep up your energy and avoid that jet-lag feeling from all odd hours, try to eat healthy and squeeze in regular exercise. Vitamins and antioxidants are always a great idea and especially helpful during tough shifts. Make sure you eat at on a consistent schedule, the way you would during the day so that you aren’t eating right before you go to sleep. Eat before your shift starts, with a small meal during break and then stop. Caffeine is fine towards the earlier part of your night, but cut back halfway through so it won’t keep you up at night. Work in a little aerobics (or whatever turns you on) soon after waking. It will make all the difference in the world.

It’s also important to get some decompression time when you come home, just like on a normal shift. Your mind and body both have to wind down from job stress so allow yourself to do this for at least an hour before trying to sleep, if you can. Watch some funny t.v. or read a graphic novel. Save the hardcore errands for whatever daytime you have. You’ll have to decide when the best time to work in time on that screenplay might be.

Cheer up, it’s not all bad! There are perks to this new job, of course. The commute will be much easier and who doesn’t want that, as a traffic-harried Angelino? That saves you on a masseuse and therapist right there.

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