6 Tips for Sleeping During the Day if You’re a Night Shift Nurse

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Being a nurse can be extremely challenging.  Long days at the hospital; working weekends, holidays, and overtime.  Add night shift to that and your job can sometimes seem overwhelming, especially if you aren’t sleeping well in-between shifts.  As a nurse of almost 10 years, and someone who has switched on and off of the night shift multiple times, I’m going to share with you 6 tips for sleeping if you’re a night shift nurse.  Because both us, and our patients, deserve a nurse who gets adequate sleep.


6 Tips for Sleeping During the Day if You’re a Night Shift Nurse

This post will focus on how to get sleep during the day, in-between your shifts.  As someone who has struggled with this concept, my body constantly fighting sleep even though I’m exhausted, these simple tips have helped me sleep much better during the day.


1.  Turn Your Bedroom into a Calm Environment

Working in a hospital is chaotic.  You don’t want to go home, after a long shift, and try to sleep in another chaotic environment.  Do your best to turn your bedroom into a calm environment, somewhere you’re excited to go, even if the rest of your living space isn’t quite as calm.  The less distractions that you have while you’re trying to sleep during the day – the better.

What worked best for me, was making my bedroom neutral colors and ensuring that it was very minimalistic with only the necessities.  I did not put a TV in my bedroom so that I would not be tempted to watch television.  I also bought a high quality mattress and pillows so that I not only felt comfortable, but looked forward to being in bed.


2.  Put Away Your Phone After You Leave the Hospital

This one trick has completely changed my sleep hygiene – in the best way possible.  After leaving the hospital, stop looking at your phone.  Your brain doesn’t need that much stimulus and blue light before you fall asleep (this also rings true if you’re sleeping during the night).  Stop checking your social media, don’t check your emails, put your phone on airplane mode and keep it that way until your alarm wakes you up.

Nobody/nothing is as important as quality sleep.


3.  Eliminate Light & Noise

Your body is not meant to sleep during the day time, and what makes it extra hard is light and noise that comes in during the day that wouldn’t come in at night.  For that reason, try to make your sleep environment as dark and quiet as possible.

For darkness, you could invest in blackout curtains; but what I found worked easily as well and wasn’t as big of a hassle was my sleep mask from Manta.

For noise, what works for me, is using a loud fan that drowns out background noise.  I purchased two of these fans and put one on each side of my bed.  On days that seemed extra noisy, I would also wear my Apple AirPods and put them on the “noise cancelling” setting.  If you do this, make sure that your headphones are fully charged so that they don’t die in the middle of your sleep and wake you up.


4.  Decide Whether it’s Best to Eat Before or After You Sleep

I’ve found that this varies nurse to nurse on whether it’s better to eat before you fall asleep or it’s better to wait until you wake up.  Personally, I do not like to eat before I go to sleep because I’ve found that I wake up in the middle of my sleep feeling sick.  However, the flip side is you could wake up in the middle of your sleep starving.

If you do need to eat before you go to bed, I suggest doing so before you leave work so that you aren’t staying awake once you get home and so that you have time to digest before heading to bed.  Make a nutritious, protein packed breakfast before heading into work, and take a break around 5 or 6 in the morning to eat it.


5.  Hit the Bed Immediately After Work

I can’t stress enough the importance of getting home and going straight to bed.  Don’t turn on the TV.  Don’t look at your phone.  Wash your face, brush your teeth, and go to bed.  By cleaning up, watching TV, or anything else; you’re only delaying sleep and waking your brain up more with more stimulus.  It isn’t worth it, I promise.


6.  Consider Sleep Aids

My last tip for sleeping during the day, and one that should only be considered after trying everything else first, would be to consider a sleeping aid.  I’ve tried both melatonin and Unisom (with Unison working better) and it puts me straight to sleep.  If you need something stronger, of course, consult with your physician.


Night Shift Nurse Essentials to Aid in Better Sleep

I mentioned most of these products throughout the post, but here’s a comprehensive list of night shift nurse essentials to aid in better sleep.

Being a nurse is hard, and being a nurse on very little to no sleep is even harder.  I hope that these tips have helped and you find yourself thriving on night shift!  If you have any other sleep tips, leave a comment below!


For more night shift tips, don’t miss:

10 Tips for Working Night Shift

6 Tips for Working a Rotating Schedule


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Kylee is a Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU) nurse passionate about making travel affordable and accessible to nurses. Inspiring nurses to travel both near and far, Kylee began Passports and Preemies in 2017 while volunteering in Skopje, North Macedonia as a way to reach nurses and advocate for the prevention of nurse burnout by traveling. Kylee is the original creator of the “8 Day Vacay” – a vacation geared towards nurses who aim to take advantage of the potentially 8 days off between work weeks with no need to use PTO.

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