NIOSH Training for Nurses on Shift Work and Long Work Hours
Using Light to Manage Alertness
You can help yourself stay awake by being in brighter light and help yourself be sleepy by avoiding it. Here is how you can use light to increase your level of alertness.
- Bright light increases alertness.5 If you are feeling sleepy after lunch or between 3 and 5 a.m. during night shift, go someplace where the light is brighter. If you are working the day shift, sunlight (even on an overcast day) is the best, brightest light source available. Artificial lighting in hospitals tends to be dim and therefore may not likely keep you alert unless you are quite close to the light. You do not need to stare at the bright light source to benefit; just work near it.
- If there is no strong light source available, a portable light box can be placed in a communal work area. These boxes are inexpensive and easy to find. A human factors engineer can plan lighting for your facility that can help staff stay alert at night without keeping patients awake.
Page last reviewed: March 31, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health