Tips for Working Shifts in Nursing


While dressing for work, Nurse Jillian receives a message from her friends inviting her to a night out in town. Sighing, she responds by saying that she couldn’t make it for she still has to go to work. “Who goes to work during night time?” her friend asks. “Me, silly. I’m a nurse, remember?” “Oh, right.”

Unlike any other professionals who work a 9am-5pm shift at the office, we healthcare professionals work 24/7. No holidays for us. Yes, we chose this job and yes, nursing is our passion. And of course, we love our job and we love helping patients recover. But there also come times where we envy others for their work schedules. And come to think of it, working on shifts ain’t actually easy and sometimes becomes really stressful. However, no matter how much you whine and complain, it is inevitable and is part of the job. So, the best thing one can do to survive this is through devising certain strategies that would help them get some sleep and cope with shift work.

Purchase some dark blinds/shades for your bedroom

For some, sleeping during the day is actually quite difficult. What with all the sunlight telling you that “Hey, it’s day time! Get up, get up!” It’s best that you make your bedroom as dark as possible through black-out blinds and shades to help trigger sleep onset. You can also try eye masks to block the light since even the light from a digital clock can disrupt or prevent sleep.

Make your room “colder”

You might want to consider making your room colder than the rest of the house since this can help encourage sleep.Studies suggest optimum room temperature for sleep is 60-65°F

Use ear plugs

So, yeah it’s morning and while you’re just about to sleep, all the others in the household is on “work/activity mode” thus all the noise and commotions. Ear plugs can come in very handy when it comes to blocking sound. Or if you don’t feel comfortable using one, you might want to inform your family members about your sleeping hours and set up rules about when you are to be disturbed. A“Do Not Disturb” sign posted outside your bedroom door may also help.

Have a schedule

Wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day.

Develop a sleep ritual

Instead of worrying what else to do the next day, create a list of tomorrow’s tasks. This way, your mind will be able to relax rather than contemplate on what needs to be done.

Make time for breaks

Take time to breathe and re-energize, even during your shift. It is often easy to run the whole shift and ignore your own needs. If you’re feeling a bit tired, you can take a short break and do a quick exercise, let’s say go up and down the stairs at the fire escape. If allowed, you can also take power naps as 10 minute naps can provide alertness that lasts for over 2 hours.


Coffee has become your new best friend. Yes, caffeine is considered as a “necessity” when you are on a night shift, but do consider stopping consuming such about 5 hours before you intend to sleep.

Consume healthy meals

Try to eat a nutritious meal during your shift, and abstain from drinking alcohol before going to sleep. You may get tempted to just eat junk, but do know that vending machines and prepackaged meals may not provide adequate nutrition Also get enough liquid in your body as dehydration can increase feelings of fatigue.


Liane Clores, RN MAN

Currently an Intensive Care Unit nurse, pursuing a degree in Master of Arts in Nursing Major in Nursing Service Administration. Has been a contributor of Student Nurses Quarterly, Vox Populi, The Hillside Echo and the Voice of Nightingale publications. Other experience include: Medical-Surgical, Pediatric, Obstetric, Emergency and Recovery Room Nursing.

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