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So, you’ve just scored yourself a job, huh? Good for you. The only problem is your clock on time is midnight and you go right through the graveyard shift for an 8 am knock-off. Yes, you’re going to be a night shift worker. How are you going to cope with this major upheaval to your routine? What’s going to happen to your life? And when are you going to sleep?
Working at night is not normal. Our internal clocks are geared towards working during daylight hours and sleeping at night. Staying awake on the job can be a major challenge, especially initially while your body is adjusting. Another problem is the fact that there is normally a reduced staffing level during the night shift. This provides little opportunity for interaction with others, which can lead to boredom and lack of motivation. This may slow down productivity and lead to poor work performance. So, what can you do to make your new night shift job a success. Here are some tips that have been shown to be beneficial:

(1) Manage your sleep during the day. Regulate the length and soundness of your sleep. Screen out all distractions, including phone calls, interruptions and light. Try to make your bedroom noise proof. Establish a pattern of sleep and stick to it.
(2) Don’t volunteer too often for double shifts. The sleep deprivation could put your life, as well as that of those you encounter, in danger.
(3) Don’t try to follow the same routine as you did prior to your night job. Educate your friends and family to your new routine. It is possible, however, to plan social outings into your new routine.
(4) On your days off, try not to totally revert to pre night shift sleep routine. This will avoid the shock of reverting to your work sleep pattern. Try sleeping through just half of your night shift time.
(5) Don’t overeat at night. Eat several smaller meals rather than one or two larger ones. Avoid sweets and fatty foods that may make you drowsy.
(6) Take a short nap about 30 minutes before you leave for work. After work, get yourself to sleep as soon as you are relaxed enough to do so.

Working the graveyard shift is definitely a challenge. But by taking care of your physical needs with a regular, disciplined life pattern outside of work time you will be able to make a success of night shift work.