How to sleep after a night shift

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Working a night shift as a healthcare professional can be challenging, especially when you need to fall asleep to feel rested and rejuvenated, ready for the next day. So what can you do to sleep well after a night shift?

Here’s our Head of Quality Improvement, Rhiannon, sharing her top tips on methods to try to help you sleep after a night shift.



Tips for sleeping after a night shift

From my experience, I know how difficult it can be to work a night shift and then try to fall asleep once you get home. During my nursing career, I’ve learned a few great tips that have helped me to combat sleeping after a night shift.

1. Create a routine

I’ve always found creating a structure to be helpful when sleeping after a night shift. It’s good to be realistic and honest with yourself to create a routine that works for you. For example, if you tend to have your tea at a certain time after your shifts, make note of the time and stick to it to help create a routine.

2. Reduce caffeine intake

We all know the importance of using caffeine wisely during shifts and when you’re at home, especially if you're working the next day. As caffeine is a stimulant, consuming it close to the time you go to bed can negatively impact your sleep. According to the Sleep Foundation, caffeine can make you fall asleep later and sleep fewer hours overall. Try to avoid drinking caffeine at least four hours before you go to sleep.

3. Eat before you go to bed

Even if you’re not very hungry after your shift, it’s important to try and eat something so you don’t wake up in the night feeling famished. Sometimes a small meal will be enough to carry you through to the next day. Here are some of the best foods to eat after a night shift.

4. Set alarms 

Alarms are another way to add structure to your routine. It’s important to set realistic alarms that allow you to get enough sleep; so you feel rested but also have enough time to get ready before your shift. 

5. Cut back on technology usage

Technology is the most common cause of light exposure that affects sleep. The body releases melatonin as it gets darker in the evenings to bring about drowsiness. Then by the morning, the body suppresses the melatonin and boosts your cortisol to make you feel more awake.

Once you arrive home after your shift, try to reduce your technology usage and focus on making yourself something to eat and then relaxing to prepare your mind and body to sleep.

6. Minimise lights

Just like technology, exposure to other lights around you can have the same impact on your sleep cycle. Artificial light affects the circadian rhythm that alters your body’s sleep cycle. When you get home from your shift, close your curtains and turn down the lights to reduce light exposure.



Healthcare professional opportunities with Thornbury Community Services (TCS) 

We’re always looking for passionate nurses, support workers and healthcare assistants to join our team and deliver care to more individuals in the community. If you’d like to join TCS, register with us using the form below or contact our team via phone: 0333 323 3762 or email them using the button.

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The information in this blog post is for general informational purposes only and not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult a qualified healthcare provider for personalised guidance. The author(s) and publisher(s) are not liable for errors or omissions, and reliance on the content is at your own risk.