How to Work Night Shift

Working third shift can be hard to adjust to. The main difficulty is with changing your circadian rhythm. Thankfully there are some techniques you can use to help making the night shift more comfortable to work.


EditTaking General Steps

  1. Exercise and eat healthy. Exercising before work can help boost energy levels and help keep you healthy.[1] Finding and planning a healthy diet plan will also help keep you alert and well.
    Work Night Shift Step 1 Version 2.jpg
    • Don’t exercise before sleep, as it boosts energy levels.
    • Don’t eat right before you go to sleep.
    • Plan your meal times.
    • Eat a light snack if you need quick energy at night. Whole grains are a good option.[2]
    • Try to avoid sugary snacks as they may give you a boost, but then leave you even more tired after the effects subside.
  2. Adjust your schedule. Keep in mind that you will still have responsibilities and relationships to maintain, some of which might require your attention during the day. Create your schedule so that you still have time for other important aspects of your life.
    Work Night Shift Step 2 Version 2.jpg
    • Make time to spend with family and friends.
    • Make sure you leave enough time for errands, such as grocery shopping or going to the bank.
    • Take note of which stores and services are open only during the day and which are open at night.
    • If you have trouble scheduling something, ask a friend or family to help take care of these day time tasks.
    • There is no best schedule, you will have to find what works for you.
  3. Try using stimulants and depressants.[3] Drink stimulants such as coffee or tea with caffeine before work. This can help to wake you up and improve mental focus. When you return home, relax and have a tea that helps you to sleep such as lavender[4] or chamomile[5].
    Work Night Shift Step 3 Version 2.jpg
    • Stop taking caffeine at least six hours before sleep [6]
    • Ask your doctor before using any pharmaceutical sleep aids
  4. Be aware of your mental and physical health. The night shift has been known to cause some health problems for those who work it. If you notice any of the following symptoms or issues, consider seeing a doctor or making a change in your work/life scheduling:
    Work Night Shift Step 4 Version 2.jpg
    • Reduction of quality or amount of sleep.
    • Constant fatigue
    • Anxiety or depression
  5. Work with your family. Let your family know about your needs. Inform them of your sleeping schedule and ask them to please not disturb you during those hours. Don’t forget, you also need quality time with friends and family, and should schedule that time into your day.
    Work Night Shift Step 5 Version 2.jpg
    • Ask them to please be as quiet as they can during the time you are sleeping.
    • Always set aside time spend with family and friends.
    • Being social can help combat the effects of loneliness that can come with a night shift.

EditFinding a Sleep Balance

  1. Learn about your circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm refers to both physical and mental changes that occur over a twenty four hour period. The main force behind the rhythm is exposure to light or dark. This rhythm effects your sleep-wake schedule.[7]
    Work Night Shift Step 6.jpg
    • Exposure to light will send the message to your body that it’s time to be active.
    • When your optic nerve is exposed to low or no light, your body produces melatonin, which is responsible for making you feel the need to sleep.
  2. Sleep as soon as you get home from work. Don’t stay up any later than you must after work. Go home immediately and sleep. Staying up any later will start to shift your circadian rhythm in an unbalanced direction.
    Work Night Shift Step 7.jpg
    • Take the shortest route to work. [8]
    • Stay alert on your drive home.
    • If you feel too drowsy to drive, pull over.
  3. Keep your sleep consistent. Whatever sleep schedule you find works best for you, stick to it. Regular sleep schedules over time will help establish a natural rhythm. This rhythm will help you sleep easier and allow you to be better rested.[9]
    Work Night Shift Step 8.jpg
    • If you do get off schedule, try to get back on it as soon as you can.
    • Ease into any new sleep schedule slowly if possible.
    • Keep your work night sleep schedule, even on nights off.
    • Changing your schedule can lower the amount of sleep you get overall.
  4. Get a good amount of sleep. Your sleep should be lengthy, deep, and restful. It can be hard to fall asleep and stay asleep, so monitor how many hours of sleep you get and the quality of that sleep.
    Work Night Shift Step 9.jpg
    • Keep a sleep journal to log the length and quality of your sleep.
    • Though eight hours a night are recommend, every person is different.
    • Pay attention to how you feel, get more sleep if you think you need it.
    • Even though you work nights, you still need your normal amount of sleep.
  5. Make changes gradually. If possible, spend a few nights getting used to any new schedules of sleep. Ideally, you should keep the same sleep schedule consistently. Not all shifts allow for such regularity however, so any changes that do arise should be eased into.
    Work Night Shift Step 10.jpg
    • If you know a change is coming, spend a few nights before adjusting.
    • If you know a string of night shifts are coming up, stay up later than normal a few nights before.[10]
    • Gradually working into a new shift schedule will make the change easier and allow you to perform better at work.

EditManaging Light and Sound Exposure

  1. Keep your bedroom dark. Use the heaviest blinds you can to block out all sunlight from your bedroom. Light exposure will send a message to your brain that it’s time to be awake. Removing light will help you sleep much better.[11]
    Work Night Shift Step 11.jpg
    • Keep other rooms dark, such as your bathroom, in case you do wake up before you are done sleeping.
  2. Wear sunglasses on your way home. Any light exposure will add to the time it takes your body to fall asleep. Driving home in direct sunlight, without sunglasses, will make it more difficult to sleep as soon as you get home.[12]
    Work Night Shift Step 12.jpg
    • Don’t stop to do any errands.
    • Take the shortest route home.
  3. Keep your workplace brightly lit. Keeping bright lights on at work will help you remain alert. When your eyes are exposed to such light, it lets your body know its time to be awake. By using bright indoor light, you mimic the light someone who works a day shift is exposed to.[13]
    Work Night Shift Step 13.jpg
    • Avoid any low or gentle lighting, as this may bring on drowsiness.
    • UV lights can give you vitamin D, much like natural sunlight does.[14]
  4. Block out noise. While exposure to light my keep you awake, sound can be just as troublesome. You will need to block out any noises that could keep you awake. Try the following methods to keep bothersome noises from waking you:[15]
    Work Night Shift Step 14.jpg
    • Ear plugs
    • Noise cancelling headphones
    • White noise machine to cover up other sounds.
    • Ask family members to be as quiet as they can during your sleeping hours.
    • Turn off your phones ringer if possible.


  • Work into your new shift gradually if possible.
  • Stay active at night. Keep moving or working to keep energy levels up.
  • Getting a little sun is good for you. Your body uses it to make Vitamin D.
  • Stay on your sleep schedule.
  • Avoid light, physical activity, food, or caffeine right before you go to sleep.
  • If you feel super sleepy in your night shift, remembering or watching something scary is a good way to stay awake.


  • Monitor your health. Working the night-shift can have negative effects on your health.
  • Do not overuse or abuse sleep aids.
  • If you develop headaches, difficulty thinking, or lack of energy, visit your doctor.[16]

EditRelated wikiHows

EditSources and Citations

Cite error: tags exist, but no tag was found

Posted in How

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *