8 Survival Tips for Nurses Working the Night Shift


Healthcare is one of the most demanding fields in terms of work hours, with several professions, especially nurses, working long, tiring shifts. Being a night shift nurse can be even more cumbersome and can get the better of most professionals. Individuals who work the night shift will face unique challenges in their roles and duties that they usually won’t encounter while performing the day or evening shift.

A night shift nurse has the same responsibilities and duties as a day shift nurse. These include administering medication, addressing patient concerns, running tests, or anything related to routine patient care.

Furthermore, night shifts are more manageable, and work is slower as most patients are asleep. However, the late hours usually prove challenging for nurses who are new to the whole concept of being available all night.

If you’re thinking of becoming a night shift nurse and unsure whether you can handle the routine, know this! Caring for your patients all night long means you might end up neglecting yourself and end up quitting sooner rather than later.

8 Tips for Nurses on The Night Shift

Some tips and tricks can help nurses survive the night shift and enjoy the benefits of working late hours. Some of these tips and tricks are as follows;

Use the slow routine to obtain an education

In short, to become a nurse, you need to do two things; acquire a nursing degree from an accredited nursing school and pass the NCLEX-RN examination. In other words, as long as your coursework is part of an official degree from an accredited institution, it doesn’t matter if you’re acquiring an online degree or sitting inside the classroom.

That said, acquiring a campus-based nursing degree while working as a night shift nurse will become quite tricky and physically grueling. Imagine if you’re working late hours and have to wake up the next day early in the morning to go to nursing school. It will be exhausting! Fortunately, an online msn nurse practitioner degree allows night-shift nurses to create a studying schedule that works in their favor.

For instance, you could always work the late hours, then get some shut-eye after singing out from work. After you wake up, you’ll be all charged up and ready to take lectures over the internet at your convenience.

Set a routine

Whether you have to drop your kids off at school every day *if you have any, i.e.) or feed your cat, a routine enables our bodies to know what to expect. And you’ll want your mind and body to know that sleep is on your routine card.

Maintain a consistent routine for sleep, work, and household duties. It will be challenging in the beginning since our bodies are designed to work in the day and sleep at night. But getting proper amounts of sleep allows you to perform well at your job and promotes good overall well-being. Create a routine that works well for you and stick to it to see results.

Always have some snacks with you

Most healthcare facilities, be it a hospital or a private clinic, don’t have a 24-hour, always open cafeteria to grab drinks and food whenever you feel famished. And trust us, while working night shifts, you will most definitely feel hungry!

It is vital to keep your energy level up to get through the night shift. Considering no cafeterias are open late at night, healthy snacks will prove to be lifesavers. Grab your favorite snack when you leave for work. It could be anything from a protein bar or fruit. Food that is on the go and requires no extra utensils to eat will be perfect. Also, avoid late-night junk food takeouts and deliveries.

Always hydrate yourself

To avoid headaches and fatigue, you have to stay hydrated at all costs. A wise decision is to carry a water bottle with you at all times. Drinking ample amounts of water throughout your night shift ensures you’ll always have the energy to perform your nursing duties effectively.

That said, don’t mistake hunger for thirst. So, don’t stuff your face with that sugary pastry you’ve set aside. Instead, grab your bottle of H2O and hydrate yourself.

Don’t consume caffeine

Yes, we know that while you’re working the night shifts, a cup of joe will help you get through those last few hours. It might be the only thing that stands between you and exhaustion. However, caffeine is highly addictive and can drastically disrupt your sleep circadian rhythm.

So, control yourself and keep your caffeine consumption to a minimum, especially on night shifts. Sure, Caffeine will allow you to stay awake, but the long terms effects are pretty dangerous.

Make friends

Limited social interactions during the night shift will make you feel depressed and sleepy. Hence, converse with your coworkers regularly and try to build positive relationships at your workplace. Doing so will help you maintain your focus through your shift and stay awake till it ends.

Additionally, workplace friendships can give your morale a welcome boost and keep you at your job for a long time. Plus, you will always have someone to cover for you when you go for a break.

Take regular breaks

It would be wise to make full use of your mandated breaks. Ensure that you’re also making healthy food choices while you’re resting during your breaks. Some healthcare institutions let their night shift nurses take short naps during their break period in a designated sleeping area.

Ensure that your healthcare facility allows such a thing, and if it does, make full use of it. You’ll be able to perform your duties as a night shift nurse more efficiently if you’re well-rested.

Ensure that the day shift administrator is aware of your work

Working as a night shift nurse makes it quite difficult for you to show the people responsible for career advancement how hard you work. It would be wise to engage with such individuals when you’re about to log off from your shift when they arrive to start their shifts. Here’s a pro tip. Volunteer with day shift employees to get noticed by upper management. This will ensure that the people in power are aware of the effort you put into your work.


Working the night shift as a nurse can be both extremely challenging and rewarding. The reward is being able to impart excellent patient care with a close-knit team of healthcare workers. Also, night shift nurses are more resourceful as they don’t have the advantage of calling a physician just for the sake of asking questions. The challenges, like the rewards, will become even more apparent if lack of sleep is an underlying issue. So, to set yourself up for success as a night shift nurse, follow the tips mentioned in this article to ensure you’re working productivity and making the best use of your time.