How to Prepare for Your Transition into the Night Shift

central business district at night

Transitioning into the night shift can be a tough process. To minimize the side effects of working irregular hours, you have to stay disciplined and stick to a healthy and regular routine.

Take these pointers into mind to make your transition less difficult:

Stick with a fixed sleep schedule

Working night shift will alter your body‘s natural Circadian rhythm. It will try to be alert when you’re programmed to be sleeping. A few weeks leading to the change in schedule, slowly train your body to be accustomed to your new sleeping schedule.

  • Don’t delay going to bed. The longer you delay your sleep, the more awake you’re likely to become.
  • Don’t try to sleep with an empty stomach. Hunger or thirst may wake you up in the middle of your sleep.
  • Set aside seven to nine hours for sleep for optimum performance.
  • Avoid smoking before bed. Nicotine is a stimulant that may cause difficulty in sleeping.

Also, multiple studies have proved that exposure to blue light from digital devices one to two hours before bedtime can affect a person’s quality of sleep. Make sure to keep your laptop, smartphone or tablet away from your bed.

Adjust your bedroom


Your room should be away from the hustle and bustle of the house. Create a comfortable sleep space, one that’s dark, quiet and cool.

If you’re living in Florida, you can use these window treatments to block sunlight from entering your room.

  • Blockout curtains – These are thick, foam-backed, opaque fabric used to completely block out light.
  • Layered curtains – Pairing your usual curtains with either Venetian or blackout blinds will combine the light-blocking qualities of both shades.

Also, white noise has been clinically proven to improve overall sleep quality. A simple white noise source can be your ceiling fan. There are purposeful white noise machines or mobile apps you can your hands on.

Switch to a healthy diet

Night shift workers have an increased risk of being overweight or obese due to poor diet and the disruption of their body clock.

Plan your meals so you can stay alert during working hours and be more relaxed when you need to sleep.

  • Go for healthier and easy-to-digest foods – These include carrots, celery, milk products, whole grain bread, pasta, salad and other high-fiber foods.
  • Avoid foods that are difficult to digest – Like fried food, fast food, corn and processed meals.
  • Avoid caffeine and soda – As you know, caffeine consumption is strongly linked to insomnia. Try the following lower-caffeinated drinks for your caffeine fix: green tea, ginseng tea or chicory coffee.
  • Stay away from alcohol – Alcohol inhibits the REM sleep you need. This means you’ll not feel rested or functional enough when you wake up.

Have a light meal at least two hours before your bedtime. It may be harder for you to fall asleep if your stomach is digesting food.

If you’re anxious about the transition, don’t fret. Take a few days or weeks off before the change in schedule just so you can gradually adjust your body. With enough discipline and patience, you’ll be able to get through this otherwise impossible process.

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