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The Night Shift Nursing Survival Guide

The Night Shift Nursing Survival Guide

Photo of Greta

by Greta Kviklyte

Life Saver, AMC
Co-authored by Kim Murray, RN, M.S.

posted on Nov 20, 2015, at 9:41 pm


Because without these tips, you just might not survive.

Regardless if you’re a first-timer on the night shift, or you’ve been managing to make it through every night shift for years. These tips will help you seriously own the the night shift with ease.

1. Schedule your sleep and meal times at least 24 hours before the night shift

Okay so you’re probably rolling your eyes at this point because you’re sick of hearing how important sleep is before your shift. The reality of actually sleeping during the day time before your shift isn’t very practical, as our bodies don’t particularly understand how to sleep eight hours during the daylight hours.

Because of this, you have to really schedule out your sleep even the night before your night
shift. Try staying up until at least 3 am the night before (hello movie marathon!) and sleeping the majority of the day before your shift, or you can choose to sleep until the late morning and take a nap before your shift if option one isn’t for you.

2. Be active the day before your shift

While this might seem counterintuitive, staying active and exercising the day before your shift is important for proper, feel-good mentally sane hormone release to get you through the night.

3. Bring healthy snacks and a reusable water bottle

Another eye-rolling and obvious tip, but an essential on our guide. The daytime nurses will have probably eaten many of the healthy and good snacks, so opt to BYOS (bring your own snacks) and bring a reusable water bottle to fill.

4. Resist the caffeine fix late in the shift

Don’t drink more than a cup or two of coffee in 24 hours, in the long run, caffeine is addictive and will disrupt your circadian rhythm more so than your temporary nightshift state. Also, try and avoid drinking caffeinated beverages during the second half of your shift, as that will surely keep you up long after your night shift is over.

5. Wear a digital watch

A night shift is the time when you are most likely to lose track of time, so wear a good digital watch and consider setting alarms. You’ll never miss a medication again!

6. Create your own “nighttime” for when you actually need it

At home, use earplugs, an eye mask and have curtains that make your room feel more like nighttime.

7. Ease into different shifts steadily

If you work shifts during all times of the days and nights, be most efficient and good to your body by slowly easing into shifts of the opposing times. For instance, if you work a day shift, work an evening shift next before taking on the night shift.

8. Bond with your co-workers

Even though it’s dark outside and the world around you is probably sleeping, you can still make friendships within the hospital! Your co-workers are working the night shift too, why not bond with them and make your work more enjoyable?

9. Stay busy

During the day shift, nurses are constantly busy with doctors, supervisors, kitchen staff and patients which can make the day shift feel quicker. To feel just as busy, try and get extra work done that could help out the busy day shift nurses, get organized, or spend more time with your patients who are actually awake.

10. Get a ride home if you need to

Okay this is the only tip that will actually determine your survival so listen carefully! Get a taxi or Uber home from work if you find yourself too tired to drive. You don’t want to end up back at the hospital being cared for.

As a nurse who works night shifts, we respect and applaud you! It’s so important that you look after yourself and learn to manage your health before, during and after your night shift.

About Greta

Greta is a dedicated life saver and a distinguished expert in the field of medical content creation and editing. Her impressive array of certifications in ACLS, CPR, PALS, and BLS underscores her commitment to excellence in the medical field. With over four years of invaluable experience in medical education, Greta plays an indispensable role within the Advanced Medical Certification team, shaping the way healthcare professionals around the world acquire and apply vital knowledge.

Greta's profound expertise serves as the driving force behind the development and distribution of medical content that has significantly enhanced the capabilities of countless healthcare practitioners across the globe.

In addition to her medical qualifications, Greta holds a prestigious academic distinction in Marketing and Global Business from Vilnius University. Her academic journey has been enriched by immersive studies in Slovakia and Portugal during her time as an exchange student, providing her with a global perspective that complements her medical expertise.

Beyond her professional commitments, Greta possesses a genuine passion for global exploration, with a particular focus on immersing herself in diverse cultures and appreciating the intricacies of the natural world. While residing in Vilnius, Lithuania, she continues to make substantial contributions to the field of medical education, leaving an indelible mark on the sector.

Reach out to Greta at


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