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8 Survival Tips for Night Shift Nurses


As a long-time night-shift nurse, I’ve experienced the various joys and challenges that the night shift brings. If you’re new to the night shift lifestyle, let me make it easier on you. I’ve learned just what it takes to have a successful night shift, including the necessary preparation, how to thrive mid-shift, and the do’s and don’ts post-shift.

To thrive on your next night shift, jot these tips down. Commit to implementing one of these tips each week. Before you know it, your night shifts will be better than ever before. And, your co-workers and patients will thank you!

Night Shift Tips for Nurses

With a few tweaks and changes, your night shift will no longer be a time to fear. Instead of feeling chaotic and rundown, you’ll begin to embrace the highs and lows, while being fully prepared. Here’s how to survive your night shift as a nurse:

1. Routine– Develop a routine for your days and nights, including but not limited to: sleep, workouts, family time, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, and everything else you want to fit into your day. By setting up a routine, you’ll be more likely to be productive and efficient with your time!

2. Meal Prep– Meal prep before your overnight shift. Taking healthy homemade meals to work with you is a game changer! It’ll energize you mentally and physically to be the nurse you can be.

3. Expectations– If you have a family or roommates, make sure they are on board with your unusual schedule. Set expectations early on and make sure they know your schedule. Anything is possible when you have the support of your loved ones!

4. Self Care– Make self care a priority. Otherwise, exhaustion and overwhelm hits quickly. I’m speaking from experience, here! And, no, self care isn’t “selfish.” In fact, it’s necessary to live well and thrive.

5. Driving– Don’t drive drowsy! If you’re too exhausted after your shift, be honest with yourself. Take a quick nap in the break room or have someone come pick you up. Driving drowsy is not worth risking your life or someone else’s.

6. Hydration– Drink plenty of water throughout the shift to keep you hydrated. Tiredness and brain fog are the first symptoms to hit when dehydration sets in. Keeping hydrated is key to staying on your toes.

7. Breakfast– Eat breakfast before you go to bed. On a normal day, you wouldn’t skip dinner, would you? Exactly! So, make it a priority to fill your body with nourishing foods before hitting the hay to regulate your blood sugar and encourage restful sleep.

8. Breaks– Trust me, I get it. Nurse shifts are hectic, busy, and stressful. Lunch breaks might not seem like an option. However, skipping mental breaks and/or meals will only make you feel WORSE. Make sure to take your breaks, even if only for 10- 15 minutes.

If you’re a night shift nurse, you understand the complications and chaos of the night. Hopefully, with these tips and tricks, you’ll be able to better manage the night shift, and all that comes with it. If you have a life-changing night shift tip, leave it below to share with our fellow nurses!