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Getting your first nursing job is so exciting. The only downfall is it’s a night shift position. As much as you learn in nursing school about nursing, no one ever teaches students how to work the night shift and not feel like a zombie. 

Either an eight or 12-hour shift, tricking one’s circadian rhythm into getting enough sleep can be challenging for many nurses. I did the night shift for two years, which I learned.

Stay hydrated, but stop drinking water at 5 am

Not drinking enough water can make you feel fatigued and give a raging headache. Bring a bottle of water every night to work. Drinking water throughout your night shift will also help keep your energy level. Before you eat on the night shift, try drinking four to eight ounces of water first. We often mistake thirst for hunger, so before you eat, try drinking a few ounces of water. If you don’t like water, try herbal teas to stay hydrated.

Pick a good time to stop drinking water; for me, it was 5 am. I didn’t want my body to wake up before 2 pm while working the night shift to go to the bathroom. That is the worst feeling to wake up and not be able to get back to sleep.

Create good habits after work that are conducive to sleeping.

 Every morning when I got home from work, I had to tell my body it was time to sleep.


 Every morning before I went to bed, I read a few pages from a book before trying to sleep. Reading for me helped me get my mind off work and get my body ready for sleep. If my kids were still home, we cuddle and talk about their stuffed animals or whatever was on their minds.   For you, it might be taking a shower. Whatever it is, make a cue to your body and mind to slow down and get ready for sleep.

Caution: Do not make a glass of wine, Truly, or any other adult beverage a cue or habit to drink before bed working night shift. It may seem obvious, but this can be a dangerous habit to start, so don’t start at all. If you want to do something like this every once in a while, that’s totally okay. I have known nurses to go to Friday Morning Happy Hour each week. That might be okay for you. Know yourself and what is too much to start a bad habit.

Blackout curtains are a lifesaver!

Before I put up blackout curtains, I would wake up 10:30 in the middle of summer and thinking it was time to get up for the day. My body thought it was time to wake up, but my mind knew better. If I got four hours of consistent sleep, it was a good day.

After I got these curtains, I was able to get six to seven hours of sleep during the day working the night shift.

White Noise Machines

When the rest of the world works during the day, and I am at night, it can be hard to get a good days sleep. Lawn movers, kids playing, dogs barking are all some of the things that kept me awake during the day. 

I invested in a white noise machine from Amazon to help me sleep.  The device 14 different settings, and I picked the one that was best for me. I love hearing the sound of the ocean while I am trying to sleep. I turned the White Noise Machine up loud enough to drown out the noise from outside my room and let me sleep. This helped me get the sleep I needed to thrive on night shift.