How to Stay Awake and Survive a Night Shift?

Working the night shift

While a graveyard shift isn’t as easy as the morning shift, you get to enjoy special benefits such as autonomy, less traffic, and night differential. The common struggles of working at night include:

  • Staying awake even though you’re sleepy
  • Concentrating after the effects of caffeine subside
  • Adjusting after your shift changes
  • Finding an energy drink that can help you stay awake throughout the night
  • Not getting cranky with the morning people
  • Being productive on the weekend

Are you one of those people who work hard while the rest of the world is asleep? Whether you are a regular employee or a business owner who work at night, here are some useful tips for you:

1. Lighting

Light is an essential part of our daily lives. Without it, we cannot see. There are only a few instances where light is not needed. While it is less necessary at night, the graveyard shift people cannot survive without it. They need as much of it as possible.

Its primary purpose is to enhance the working experience, but better lighting can go a long way. It tricks the mind into thinking that it’s morning, reducing sleepiness. Thus, also improving focus and concentration. That’s one reason why most companies with round-the-clock operations install high-quality LED wall packs to illuminate the working area.

Got the privilege to work from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic? Ensure that your working space is properly illuminated. Use white light instead of yellow light. It is known to reduce the production of “melatonin,” the sleep hormone. So it helps you fight sleepiness throughout your shift.

2. Caffeine

Caffeine can be your best buddy on a graveyard shift. It contains stimulants that affect brain chemistry. Basically, it serves as an “adenosine receptor suppressant,” that blocks the sleep-inducing chemical, adenosine, keeping you awake and energetic.

The most popular caffeinated drink is coffee. But if you prefer something healthier, you can go for tea such as black or green tea. The other alternatives include apple juice, wheatgrass, and dark chocolate drink.

You may also try making your own caffeine-based energy drink. Just search for the ingredients online. You can store it in your fridge, then just refill your tumbler bottle before you head off to work.

Remember, drink caffeine in moderation. Too much of it can cause palpitation, dizziness, and anxiety. You know you already have too much caffeine when you’re feeling jittery. And it’s recommended to drink lots of water to flush it out of your system.

3. Exercise

Being stationary can also make you feel sleepy, as it slows down the blood flow. The antidote is to move around to increase your heart rate and improve blood circulation. Try walking or stretching every fifteen to thirty minutes. If you are not allowed to get away from your desk, stationary exercises such as pop squat, push-up, and planking will do. That sure will get your blood flowing smoothly, helping you stay alert and active.

4. Stay organized

Organizing your work so it can keep you busy throughout your shift reduces drowsiness too. But it’s important to find the balance to avoid getting stressed out. Prolonged stress can escalate to burnout. And this is where good time management comes in.

Plot your work to make it easier for you to see your next agenda. Not only will it make you more productive, but it will also keep your mind active due to little inactivity. Download sticky notes or memo pads on your computer to create virtual reminders.

5. Quality sleep in the day


Getting a quality sleep in the morning makes us feel renewed and rejuvenated just as a good night’s sleep does. It allows cell regeneration and replenishment, preparing us for another long evening.

Use an eye patch to prevent lights from entering your eyes. As we already all know, light can interfere with your sleep. Close your windows to reduce external noise. If need be, play mellow music in the background to induce sleep. You may also put a “do not disturb” sign on your door to keep people from disturbing you unless it is urgent.

Not getting enough sleep can lower your immune system, making you vulnerable to diseases such as diabetes, heart problems, and obesity. So make it a habit to get at least 8 hours of sleep a day.

Working on a night shift is difficult. But sometimes we just have to do it. If you struggle, give your body enough time to adjust and soon you will get the hang of it. Don’t forget to take essential vitamins and minerals too to support your body so you can stay healthy.

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