Working the night shift can really take a toll on your body. I’ve been working the night shift on and off for the past 15 years now and can’t say I’ve gotten use to it. What I have learned though is how to cope with it. I still struggle some nights to stay awake. The hours between 3am – 5am seem to be when I struggle the most. I’ve listed below a few tips I’ve learned along the way that may help to get you through the night. Keep in mind that whether or not you can try some of these will depend on your jobs policies. So be sure to check your company’s handbook before you try anything that may potentially get you terminated from your job. Stay awake my friends!!!
1. Get plenty of sleep.
Getting plenty of sleep before you go in to work is key to getting through a long night of work. What I find to be the most helpful for me is sleeping before I go in to work. I work 7pm to 7am, so I try to stay asleep at least until 5pm. If I wake up before then, I notice I struggle more to stay awake during my work night. Try to get at least 6 hours of sleep if you can and use an eye mask to help block the light.
2. Drink coffee or any caffeinated beverage.
If you’re a coffee drinker, I recommend drinking one or two cups in the beginning of your shift. Try not to drink it towards the end of your shift or else you won’t be able to sleep once you get home. If you don’t like coffee, you can also try tea. Be careful however with consumption of caffeine as it’s a stimulant which could speed up your heart rate and can also cause dehydration.
3. Take a walk.
Depending on the type of work you do, walking and moving around can help keep you alert during your shift. This is especially true if you have a job where you are sitting for long periods of time. The point is to get up and move when you feel that strong urge to fall asleep.
4. Read a book.
Reading can also help keep you awake at night. Make sure it’s a page turner that you just can’t seem to put down. You will want something that will keep your interest and not bore you to sleep.
5. Utilize apps on your phone.
Just about everyone has a smart phone in this day and age with the ability to download applications. Social media and game apps are probably the most popular and can keep you entertained and awake for hours. Some jobs have strict policies when it comes to phone usage, so make sure you have read your company’s policy as it pertains to use of your personal phone.
6. Stay hydrated.
Staying hydrated is good for your overall health especially when you’re working. I’ve noticed that I’m more tired and sleepy when I’m not well hydrated. If anything, it keeps me constantly going to the bathroom which keeps me moving and awake!!
7. Eat small healthy snacks.
When you’re really sleepy it’s easy to just sit and snack all night. Unfortunately, we tend to pick the most unhealthy choices that are so conveniently sitting in the vending machine. Snacks high in sugar will just make you feel sluggish and worse off than you were. Try taking a healthy snack/meal with you to work that is high in protein and low in carbs.
8. Help your coworkers.
If you’re done with your job and just don’t have anything to do, offer to help a co-worker. Of course this will depend on the type of work you do, but it’s always nice and helpful to lend a hand. You’ll stay awake and will help out a buddy. It’s a win-win for everyone!!
9. Take a nap.
Most jobs require that you take a 30 minute lunch break. Rather than eat that large meal that will probably only make you even more sleepy, try to take a 20-30 minute nap in your break room. It’s not much, but at least you can rest your eyes long enough to get through the rest of the night.
10. Stay busy.
Keeping yourself busy is going to be the best way to get through a long night shift. You will want to find yourself constantly doing something if you’re feeling that urge to sleep. Regardless of what you do for a living, there is always something related to your job that you can do. If you’re feeling extra ambitious, ask your boss if there is any special project that you can work on when you’re not busy at night. I’m sure he or she can find something for you to do!!!
Well there you have it. These are just a few tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way that have gotten me through years of working the dreaded grave yard shift. Leave a comment if you have any other tips and tricks to survive the night shift. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it!!!!