Working the graveyard shift is no easy task. The sudden switch in your waking and sleeping patterns often causes you to feel like the walking dead; tired, foggy, achy, and even confused. It’s a shift that millions of people work but one that is notoriously difficult to get used to.

Fortunately, adjusting to a graveyard shift can be done with a few tips, tricks, and planning. If you are about to start working overnight or are considering an overnight job, here are several fool-proof tips that will help stay awake and alert during this challenging shift.

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1. Give Your Body Time to Adjust

When you work the graveyard shift, your body needs time to adjust to the new schedule. It’s natural to feel tired at first, as you get used to sleeping when you should be awake and working when you should be sleeping. Give your body about 2-3 weeks to adjust to the new schedule and start feeling normal again.

2. Avoid Light Before Bedtime

As a night-shift worker, being able to quickly fall asleep at bedtime is essential to make sure you are getting all the sleep you need.

A great tip for preparing for sleep is to avoid bright lights about 30 minutes before bedtime. This includes adjusting the settings on your phone and computer. If you need to know how to turn off your keyboard lights on your Mac, go to for instructions.

3. Use the Right Bedtime Accessories

When you work the night shift, “bedtime” can happen during the daytime and it can be hard to sleep when the sun is shining brightly outside. Using accessories like blackout curtains and sleep masks will block out the light and create a dark and ideal environment for falling asleep.

4. Stick to a Routine

Sticking to a routine is important when you are working graveyard shifts because a routine will help you get comfortable with your new schedule as quickly as possible. Create a schedule for waking up, sleeping, and everything in between so you can get into a routine and function better throughout the day.

5. Eat Healthy Foods

Eating healthy foods will help you feel better while you are working the night shift. Eating unhealthy foods can cause you to feel tired, bloated, unfocused, and even depressed, which only adds to the tiredness you naturally feel when you are working the night shift. Eat healthy foods to give yourself and your mood a natural boost.

6. Be Careful With Caffeine

While caffeine can help you stay alert, it’s important to make sure to use it the right way so you can sleep after your shift is over. Drink small amounts of caffeine while you work and stop drinking it a few hours before your shift ends.

7. Don’t Neglect Your Sleep

One of the best working night shift tips is to get plenty of sleep. It’s natural to skip some sleeping sessions because you may not want to sleep during the day or you may have things to do that can only be done during the day. Although it might be difficult, make sure you are getting the recommended amount of sleep each day while you are working the night shift.

8. Drink Plenty of Water

While drinking caffeine helps you stay awake and alert at work, drinking water is a healthier way to achieve the same results.

When you don’t drink enough water, you become dehydrated, which causes you to feel tired, dizzy, and irritable. The effects of dehydration only worsen when you are already tired from working overnight. Drink plenty of water during your shift as a way to naturally combat tiredness.

9. Avoid Drinking Too Much Alcohol

Drinking affects your brain functioning and the effects can last for up to 3 days after you consume alcohol. You will feel tired, unable to think, moody, and also find it difficult to focus and concentrate. Avoid drinking too much alcohol to make working overnight easier, especially while your body is still adjusting to your new shift.

10. Keep Your Workplace Well Lit

A brightly-lit workplace is ideal to help you feel alert and awake, regardless of the shift you are working. If you can control the lighting in your workplace or at your work area, keep the lighting at a reasonable brightness, one that isn’t too bright but also isn’t too dim.

11. Keep Energy-Increasing Snacks Handy

Keeping your energy up is essential when you are working the overnight shift. A great way to boost your energy is to eat energizing and healthy snacks. This is ideal because you are eating nutrient-packed foods that are nourishing your body while providing you with enough natural energy to get through your shift. Supercharge your snacking by hydrating with fruit-infused water.

12. Use Music to Keep You Awake

If you can listen to some tunes during your shift, put on a high-energy playlist while you are completing your work. When you play high-energy music, your heart rate increases, causing your blood to flow, improving your circulation, and sending nutrients and oxygen to your brain. All of this results in your energy levels rising simply by listening to your favorite music.

13. Don’t Swap Shifts or Change Shifts Frequently

Routine is important for allowing your body to adjust to an overnight schedule so it’s important to avoid swapping shifts, changing your shift, or switching back and forth between overnight and a daytime shift. Making these changes will throw off your routine and make it nearly impossible for you to adjust and function at your best throughout your day.

Use These Tips to Stay Awake and Alert When You Are Working Overnight

Working overnight does not have to result in feeling tired and stressed.

By managing your daytime and your nighttime routine, you’ll be able to adjust to working the graveyard shift and feel alert and awake while working overnight. If you give your body time to adjust, eat healthy foods and snacks for an energy boost, avoid too much caffeine and alcohol and keep your work environment as bright and lively as possible, you can work your shift without feeling tired or falling asleep.

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