NIOSH Training for Nurses on Shift Work and Long Work Hours
If you work full-time evening shift:
- Your challenge is to wind down before going to sleep, since there is no “buffer” period before bedtime after the evening shift. You can try a warm bath or shower or relaxation techniques (see Module 8 pages 7 to 9 for information about relaxation techniques).
- Some evening nurses socialize after work by going to bars. Although this socialization can be pleasant and drinking alcohol right before bed can help you go to sleep quickly, it can interfere with your ability to remain asleep. Also, driving home during the circadian low (after 1 a.m.) while alcohol is in your system is even riskier than at a different time of day, so you should be careful to avoid driving after drinking any alcohol past midnight.
- To signal your body that it is nighttime, you should avoid any sources of bright light after your shift.
- Make sure your bedroom is very dark or wear an eye mask. Prevent morning sunlight from coming in your bedroom, because it can signal your circadian rhythms and alert you before you have had enough sleep. This could make you sleepier in the evening at work. You can install blackout shades and/or drapes on your bedroom and bathroom windows and block light from coming under the doorways.
- After you have had enough sleep (7 or more hours) and get up in the morning, go into a brightly lit area. That can help your circadian system set those times for sleep and help you fall asleep more easily after you get home from work.
Page last reviewed: March 31, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health