Night shift sleeping.

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  • Night shift sleeping.
  • olly2097

    Anyone got any tips?

    I’ve recently started doing permanent night’s as it works best for us as a family childcare wise and financially.

    My sleep is crap though. I’m night three tomorrow and in the last 48 hours I’ve had 6 hours sleep.

    Cold, dark, earplugs, fan on, warm duvet, no energy drinks/caffeine after 0300, good breakfast, no booze, bed.

    I’m avoiding; zopiclone, nytol, co codomol. All good but never work 100% and can be addictive in use or build up tolerance.

    Go to bed at 0900, by 0915 I’m asleep. 1100 I’m peeing a random full bladder that wasn’t there before. 1300 I’m naked in the kitchen rifling cupboards as my body says its lunchtime. I’m then trying to doze, mouths dry. Water. More unrine. Can’t drop off. Alarms set for 1800, surf internet for a bit. Doze. Flip pillow. 1730 and I drop off for half hour. Repeat the next day.

    Any tips? Slowly killing me.


    Can’t help i’m afraid but can commiserate. Did nights at the postoffice at christmas – killed me. Ok when you are a student or early 20s, late 50s – half dead for weeks. Towards the end i was coming home and sleeping for 15 hours – so jacked it in.

    Premier Icon irc

    I found a large whisky before bed after getting home worked. For years I worked 7 nights in a row every 28 days. Always got great sleeps from 2nd or 3rd night in. Coming off nights was another thing though. I never found a good answer.

    Tried sleeping tablets once. Didn’t work. I slept but was still dopey when I got up. The nearest thing was to sleep from 0800-1200 after the last night then go to the pub for a skinfull that night.

    In my 20s 30s it was bearable. I stopped regular nightshifts by age 44 by when it was getting hard.

    Everyone is different though. Some people just find it harder than others.

    Premier Icon irc

    duplicate post


    I can’t drink booze. Sends my kidneys into overdrive and I’ll be up peeing all day. Otherwise I’d be on it.


    I work week of days, week of lates then week of nights starting Sunday night finishing Friday morning.
    Get up Sunday morning and stay up all day/night till Monday morning, sets me up for week. Get to bed about 9:30, up at 4pm.
    Can sleep all night and not need a pee, always bursting on night shift!
    46 and being doing it 19 years.
    You’ll get used to it…….eventually :-/


    I takes a while to adapt

    I never went to bed the moment I got home – I would stay awake until around 11 am then go to bed, getting up around 5 or 6 to go to work.


    I find blackout blinds are great, still need to get up at 10 for a piss though! Hard part is coming off them, not bad if starting back on lates but kills me if I go back on earlys, shift work is a slow death, hopefully retire one day just to get my body clock back.


    I did night shift for a while a few years ago. I can’t offer much more than anyone else really. I got used to falling asleep to ambient music as a form of lullaby. 10/11am to 6pm is probably the best solution for a ‘night’ with some decent blackout blinds. It does take a while to get used to the routine. What kills most is the weekends. You’ll want to get up earlier, but you’ll suffer for it.

    Half expecting to get roasted for this, but I would suggest vitamin D supplements. I know we’re all from the British Isles and Ireland on here and so not too used to the whole ‘sunshine’ thing, but it used to help me, if only with keeping sane.

    Premier Icon bruneep

    I’ll just mention, why not become a firefighter? they sleep all night! before anyone else does.

    Premier Icon Sandwich

    It always took 3 days for me to get in the rhythm of nights. No food or caffeine after midnight and breakfast when you get in, potter for a couple of hours and then bed. Blackout curtains and blinds are a great help as sunlight causes the sleep problems. (NASA get the shuttle night crew ready by shifting their body clock with very bright rooms, tens of thousand lux, at night and blackout during the day before a mission). You also need to be careful with your weekend waking late and going to bed late. Sometime around 1-2am I used to click over into ‘night mode’, find your tipping point and go to bed before then otherwise it’s wide awake until 7am.
    It’s very bad for your health (diabetes, mental health and heart disease) so find something else after about 20 years!! 🙂

    Premier Icon Drac

    Well I have nothing to add Bruneep has covered it all. 😉

    Ear plugs were a great find for me, I go into a deeper sleep but still only get around 3-5 hours a day. I get in at 7 by the time the kids and Mrs have gone I sleep deeply from about 9 until 11.30 to 12. I get up potter around have some lunch, I find watching a film will put me in a drifting sleep so I go back to bed about 2 or 3 for a few hours.

    Premier Icon siwhite

    Ollie, I really feel for you. I’ve worked a rotating shift pattern (police officer) for the last 15 years, and nights are rubbish. They are bad for your short term health and mood, and not healthy in the long term. I can empathise with a lot of your findings – especially the random need to pee. For the last year I’ve been sleeping in our garden room so as not to be disturbed by our toddler. Having to walk across the garden to go to the loo really wakes you up!

    I am fairly lucky as I can sleep despite caffeine overnight – I have a cup of tea before driving home as I’d find myself falling asleep at the wheel. I always have a massive breakfast before going to sleep, to prevent waking up hungry, and always have a drink handy. I am usually ready for bed as soon as I get home, and sleeping from 8am to 2pm is considered a good sleep. Recently, I have been in a role where I could take a meal break overnight (itself a real rarity in the Police!) and I would snooze for 40 minutes or so overnight, which I found really refreshing and felt as if it counted to the next day’s sleep total, which was a mental boost. Coming out of nights, I’d set an alarm after the last shift and sleep between 8am and noon – you’ll feel tired for the rest of the day, but it makes sleeping that evening easier. Exercise is important as well – it’ll be the last thing you feel like doing, but it definitely helps with energy levels.

    I got a new job last week (still Old Bill, just a different role) which will mean that I won’t work nights anymore. This factor was the primary reason I went for the job, and I can’t describe the weight that has been lifted from my shoulders! I am a miserable bugger when working nights, can’t achieve anything and am foul to my wife owing to the fatigue. I have (at most) 14 nights shifts left, and I’m really looking forward to the change. It’ll cost more in nursery fees, but I couldn’t care less – I’ll feel so much better!

    Premier Icon Teetosugars

    When I worked nights, I found sleeping outside helped.
    Granted, not at this time of year, but I used to just take my dossbag and campcot and set up outside.
    I got home at 0730, had breakfast with the wife who then went to work, and then took my kit outside.
    Slept through till about 1200hrs, normally with the dog curled up next to me.

    Then try and get a couple of hours in again in the early evening

    But, I won’t lie, as other said, it messes with yer head, especially in the darker months..
    Go to work in the dark, get home in the dark, go to bed in the dark, wake up in the dark, and never see “Daylight”.. 😥

    Feel your pain! Good breakfast, blackout blinds earplugs sometimes even an eyemask. If you are perm nights it will get easier I often only get 6 -7 hours on my first 3 nights back (only do 3 or 4 then back to days)
    When I was on 8 hour nights I used to have dinner in the evening the get an hour or two before work

    Anyone else on weird shift patterns?
    4 nights 3 off 3 days 1 off 3 nights 3 off 4 days 7 off then repeat
    Looks good on a screen but only 2 weekends a month off and knackered after 7 off because of trying to ride everyday


    Been working nights (well, shifts) for just over 9 years now. Like others it makes me an irritable grumpy bastard but my body clock is at least used to it, I’m due to start my block of four tonight and I’m feeling tired already. Dont overdo coffee, I have a couple at half ten and midnight and a cup of tea later on, will usually have something to munch on as hunger just makes me more tired. Getting home and getting to bed works best for me, usually from 8 till half 2 then an hour or so in the evening before I go out.

    Looking forward to a day job one day, shifts have their perks but dont half get you down.

    Premier Icon firestarter

    I think I might transfer to Scotland bruneep 😉

    Premier Icon bigblackshed

    I’m a shift worker and have done all sorts of patterns over the years.

    We can all offer advice but what will work for us might not work for you. I’ll offer a few experiences, but some people can’t work nights.

    A couple of guys I used to work with would turn their “days” around when working nights. Get up, have breakfast, go to work, eat lunch at work, home, “evening” meal, stay up, watch TV, have a beer, bed at 11am, get up 7-8pm. Assuming your working 10-6 nights.

    I can’t manage to stay up after the first night, but I’ll have breakfast when I get in, shower then bed by 8:30. Sleep until 4, with only the occasional trip to empty the bladder. I work 7-7 nights, out of the house at 6, not home until 7:45-8:00.

    You mentioned that you are hungry at lunchtime, are you eating at work? You wouldn’t get up in the middle of the night to have a snack, and you wouldn’t go all day without eating.

    Also no internet browsing when in bed. Try staying up later in the morning so you sleep later. Try turning your day around so you sleep / work at the same time but shifted by 12 hours.


    I’ve worked shifts since 1989. Had one year off them a couple of years ago. I do 4 weeks of 3 nights (used to be 8 weeks). At first I slept really well but as I’ve got older I really struggle to get more than a about 4 hours a day. Black out blind and ear plugs help a bit. Can’t work out where the pee comes from. I could stop drinking all night and still need to get up through the day to per like a horse. The year off them I felt great. I’m ratty get a bad stomach and generally feel shit when on nights. Oh, and I’ll never do the 8 weeks of nights pattern.

    I worked shifts for 8 years with shifts of 5 nights every 6 weeks.

    I ate during the night as i would if it was the daytime, had a bit of toast before bed and tried not to drink to much.

    Getting the bedroom right was the most important bit for me to help keep me asleep. Do you use the fan to generate white noise? If not consider getting a white noise machine. I had black out blinds and covered any bits of light getting through with towels, i got the room pitch black. Also used ear plugs, with them combined with white noise machine i rarely got woken up by noise outside.

    Last night i used to get 3 hours sleep and then try to stay awake for rest of day.

    Premier Icon siwhite

    Oh, and get a sign laminated for your front door. ‘Night shift worker inside – knock on the door on pain of death’ or similar. Saves getting woken by moron couriers and the like.


    I work offshore and do 7 nights of 12 hrs and then change over to 7 days of 12 hrs.
    Absolutely hate the changeover,takes around 4 days to be normal again.
    Immune system takes a beating,lack of sleep and poor diet.
    I’ve started using Huel as diet supplement ,this has helped a great deal for me.Sleeping is still a struggle so i just practice mindfulness techniques instead,sleep eventually comes.
    Some of my workmates use melatonin,which available onboard,seems to work for them but i’ve never tried it.

    Premier Icon Flaperon

    Cold, dark, earplugs, fan on, warm duvet, no energy drinks/caffeine after 0300, good breakfast, no booze, bed.

    – Get rid of the breakfast and just have a snack of something that’s not carb laden.

    – You can only shift 1 – 1.5 hours at a time, so it’s going to take a week to even get close to having your body on the right circadian pattern, and this will go back if you sleep badly, or have meals at the wrong time.

    – Coffee and energy drinks… caffeine has a half life of about 6 hours in the body. So if you have 2 strong coffees at 3am, it’s roughly the same as having one coffee just before going to bed 6 hours later.

    – Get an eye mask. Blackout difficult to achieve in daylight.

    – I’ve heard of other shift workers using melatonin with success. It’s proscribed in some professions but is apparently widely available in the USA as a supplement.

    – Try not to get anxious about not falling asleep, even if it feels like you’re spending all day lying in bed. You will drift in and out and get some rest.

    I flip from 4am starts to 11pm finishes roughly every 5 days, and you do get used to it over time. It might take months though.

    Premier Icon P20

    Blackout curtains/blinds help. I’ve recently given up coffee on night shift which seems to help too. When I get home, quick bit to eat and drink then off to bed. Normally wake around midday for the bathroom and then doze for a couple more hours,
    Ultimately it’s not great for you. A few years back I got onto a dayhshift only rota, slight drop in pay, but one extra overtime shift and it was the equivalent. Felt less tired, in my own bed every night, eating at relevant times. It all meant I lost a stone in weight without changing anything else or trying to lose weight. Change of jobs and I’m back on a rota with nights


    I do a 3 shift rota and dread my nights im anxious about it days before I start my night rotation. Im dopey ,miserable and short temperpered(more than usual). Im going to do another 5 years and retire early as my line of work has no other escape from the dreaded nights.

    Best advise I could give is get another job because nights are awful imho. On the other hand I know people who like them.


    Worked shifts most of my life in one form or another, 47 now and it gets harder on nights. I am on a reasonable pattern now of 12 hour shifts, 4 on 6 off (2xdays then 2xnights). I haven’t found a solution but I stay up all day prior to first night then get in about 0800 after an hour drive, bit of brekkie then bed around 0900. Get up for the pee due to an amazingly reduced bladder capacity on nights it appears. Up again at 1230-1330 is most I can manage it get pounding headaches forcing sleep on nightshift. Luckily I only do 2 nights so it’s over quick, following last night I kip for a couple hours to take the edge off and sleep soundly first night back in bed. I am however fed up shift working generally and would welcome a change even just to 8 hour shifts.


    A couple of guys I used to work with would turn their “days” around when working nights. Get up, have breakfast, go to work, eat lunch at work, home, “evening” meal, stay up, watch TV, have a beer, bed at 11am, get up 7-8pm. Assuming your working 10-6 nights.

    This is what I do – although my nights (as a doctor) are 9pm until 10am so a bit longer than some. When I’m on nights I eat, sleep and work, there isn’t really any time for anything else.

    Personally I never wake up hungry so I often forget to eat on nights – I have to make a conscious effort to eat some healthy things. As for sleep – I use earplugs and eye mask. A comfy eye mask helps. I’ve never tried it but Melatonin is tempting. I can’t bring myself to drink alcohol at 11am though!

    I think it’s about finding a routine that works for you – everyone I speak to does things differently. I do find it harder as I get older (and have a toddler). When I did nights aged 24 it was no big deal, whereas now (I’m 33) I hate it. I dread to think how I’ll feel in another 5 years.


    Go somewhere with a 7-8hour time difference. Get used to their time and then when here don’t switch back to our time.


    Been working shifts for 25 years. Nights are great cause there’s no day **** about. I drink tea all night, eat loads, still eat at normal times at home, don’t use black-outs, sleep ok in two stints normally. My top tip – find what suits you. There will be a circadian dip where it’s best for you to kip, you need to recognise it. Sometimes it’s during handover, sometimes while driving home. If you’re wide awake when you get home, there’s no point trying to go straight to sleep.

    Premier Icon downshep

    Worked shifts for decades. Eye mask, ear plugs and blackout curtain liners all help as does getting straight to bed quickly in the morning before the sun comes up. Easy in winter, impossible in summer.

    If I interact too much when the family are getting up, it wakes me up and I’m too stimulated to settle down. Cycling home form work used to help too, with ‘proper’ tiredness giving better quality sleep.

    Never been one for pills and potions but a wee toot of whisky helps. As does watching some boring documentary on the Ipad to induce ‘noddy dog’ head to send me over.


    my brother does permanent nights. 10-8. he sleeps twice; few hours when he gets back and a couple of hours in the afternoon.

    If he needs more he extends the morning sleep to maybe 4-5 hours. he finds he can’t sleep any more than this in the day, and without the 2 hr nap in the evening he’s too tired.

    it’s the leave he finds tough; having to switch back to a normal routine to fit in with family friends, then back to nights.

    he eats at roughly normal times; breakfast when he gets in/ or up, lunch in the middle of the day and evening meal before going to work.

    Premier Icon keith74

    Have been working shifts for only a year and absolutely hate it.Work 12hr shifts and a 3-2 shift pattern but including over time end up 4-1.Working 4 nights followed by a day off then swing into 4 day shifts.So miss my old job and currently looking to get back to a day job.

    All the above information is good and I have used most.One thing I have tried after being recommended it is to listen to some ASMR stuff on YouTube to get me to sleep.It definitely helps me get into a deep sleep.

    Premier Icon lunge

    Take time before going to bed is my advise. If you get in, eat then go to bed I used to struggle, having 2 or 3 hours at home to wind down then going to be 11am ish worked much better. Horlicks and “some time alone” used to help as well…


    I work 3 12 hour days then short change over to 3 12 hour nights, I found partially switching by having a late night/lie in before the 1st nightshift helps set me up and I use melatonin on the first morning when I get home, quick breakfast and straight to bed

    Premier Icon SaxonRider

    It always took 3 days for me to get in the rhythm of nights

    It should only take about 3 minutes and 51 seconds.


    Premier Icon jimplops

    I work 4on4off, when on nights (this week) I have a strict no caffeine after midnight, get home and clean teeth and in bed by 7:45 with ear plugs in and set my alarm for 1pm, I’ve always tried to make sure I stick to the same routine.
    Been doing this for over 20years, ear plugs in the last couple since our little man came along.


    Have worked permanent nights for 4 years. Before my first night I stay up as long as possible till about 0300 then sleep till 1400/1500 then get home 0815/30 have something to eat,take dogs for a wee shower and bed for 1030 and wake up at 1800.
    Ear plugs, blinds and blackout curtains. Easy in winter but a bit tougher in summer.

    I’m on 50mg of Amitriptyline to knock me out, and stop me from waking up if I roll over on my shoulder. Makes you a bit groggy when you wake up, but it helps me sleep.


    I’ll be a firefighter. My best mate is one (I’m a nurse) he sends me a pic of his Chinese in front of the TV at the station. Then sends me another of his bed. He then sleeps 2300-0600 most nights. Then moans and says his nights are hard!!!

    I got 4 hours today. Wide awake by 1400. Off to coed y brenin Sunday morn so I must sleep today!

    Thanks for all the insight. We all have similar problems. nobody has really suggested a Tommy tank to help ease into sleep. Surprisingly.


    nobody has really suggested a Tommy tank to help ease into sleep. Surprisingly.

    Thought that went without saying?


    I think you may have missed some subtle hints…

    Anyway, I’m going to try and sleep now, until my bleep inevitably wakes me up. If I can sleep for a couple of hours now I can do something interesting with my day after my shift finishes.

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