Six Essential Survival Tips for Nurses Working the Night Shift

Six Essential Survival Tips for Nurses Working the Night Shift – The night shift may not be the most sought-after role for nurses, but it does present certain advantages. You can have the rest of the day off, which allows you to spend more time with your family and complete your daily tasks.

However, the night shift also means irregular, tiring hours. You probably won’t deal with major changes in patient care, but you might be the only person on hand to take proper care of an individual. 

What Exactly Does a Night Shift Nurse Do? 

Night shift nurses usually have the same roles as day shift nurses. They provide patient care, give medicines, and deal with patient concerns. 

However, here are some of the main differences between the two shifts: 

  • Night shift work is usually slower, with most of the patients asleep and no visitors 
  •  There are more patients allotted to each nurse than during the day
  • Support staff members are fewer in number 
  • It can be hard to adjust to the night shift due to the natural circadian rhythm

Are you working the night shift as a nurse or planning to do so soon? Also, are you worried about coping with different cases and prioritizing cases during emergencies? 

If the answer’s Yes, we suggest pursuing higher education to learn the skills needed to deliver excellent patient care quality and learn new skills by applying for an RN to BSN online degree. With higher education, you will move up the career ladder and improve your skills in delivering excellent patient care. 

Regarding getting through the night shift with ease, here are some tips. 

  • Plan a Schedule for Getting Some Sleep

Working the night shift is tough. Don’t make it harder by not sleeping at all. Set a good time to go to sleep after you get off work. Get a loud alarm and ensure you wake up at a similar time every day. 

Such practices will allow you to follow a stable sleeping schedule. This way, you can minimize the adverse effects of working the night shift on your body’s circadian cycle. 

  • Set up a Nice Sleeping Space

Sleeping during the day can be challenging. Here’s what you can do to get the best quality sleep during your time off work:

  • Create a quality resting space suited to your sleeping needs. 
  • If you have other people at home, politely ask them to keep the noise level down while you’re catching up on sleep.
  • Try out white noise apps, earplugs, or a small fan to block out background noises for a peaceful sleep.
  • Get blackout curtains to cut off the sunlight coming into your room.

With a restful sleep during the day, you will hopefully be more focused at night. Your productivity and mood at work will also see an improvement. 

RELATED: Best Color Light To Sleep With – Red, Blue, Green Or Yellow?

  • Have a Routine After Getting Off Work

Once you get off the night shift, things might initially feel disoriented. However, it’s still daytime, and there’s much to do besides sleeping. 

To stay productive in other aspects of your life, start planning what you will do right after getting off your shift. 

For starters, you may have to:

  • Complete errands
  • Go for some recreational activities like going to the park with your kids
  • Have some bonding time at home with the family
  • Socialize and catch up with friends
  • Get some hours of quality sleep

With so much to cram into your daytime routine, you need a planned schedule. Start working on that the minute you get off work. Once you establish a routine, you’d be much more productive as a night shift nurse too. 

  • Give Yourself Time

Planning the best schedule for your night shift will take time. You may have to give it a few days or even weeks before the new normal feels right.  

The adjustment period can be a little more difficult to handle. Keep thinking about the benefits of having night shift work; you work at a relatively slower time, have the whole day off, and perhaps have a higher earning rate. 

Working nights is part of the job when you enter the medical field. Pat yourself on the back for making it this far!

  • Stay Active Whenever Possible

With the slow pace of most night shifts, it’s easy to nod off while slumped on the couch. Even if you’re reading a book or on your phone, remaining inactive isn’t a good look for nurses. 

Plus, you must stay alert and present for patients needing care at night. 

So what are the best activities nurses can do when facing hours of downtime? Here are a few suggestions: 

  • Complete some paperwork.
  • Walk through the halls; you might buy a pedometer and achieve your steps goal every night.
  • Look up some at-home walking exercises and do them whenever possible.
  • Use the stairs whenever possible; leave the elevators for emergencies.
  • Conduct simple stretches every half-hour, especially when sitting at your workstation for several hours.
  • Take up knitting, embroidery, solving puzzles, or anything that requires you to stay focused (if you find yourself nodding off, time to take a walk!).

There are many other ways to stay productive when you’re free at work. Think about what you can do to remain active during this time. Who knows, you might even end up achieving some fitness goals!

  • Plan a Healthy Diet

A night shift nurse must stay healthy, especially since they compromise their sleep. 

At this point, try to maintain a good diet that includes vegetables, protein, whole grains, fruits, and healthy fats. It may help to plan meals beforehand to avoid processed snacks or fast food!

Speaking of snacks, stock up on healthy options for the night shift. These may include: 

  • Fruits
  • Unsweetened yogurt
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Beef jerky
  • Dark chocolate


Even a regular schedule for nurses is grueling. With the night shift on your list of duties, you will initially face some obstacles and challenges, but with time, you will adjust. 

Focus on the tips above to prepare for this new lifestyle. You’ll hopefully find things getting easier very soon!

Image Source: Pexels

Last Updated on July 31, 2023 by shalw

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