1. Eat healthily
Don’t eat a big carb-heavy meal before your shift as this will make you feel sleepy – take some healthy snacks to eat throughout instead. Things like fruit, nuts, salad, carrot sticks and hummus are great. Avoid pasta and carbs as well as high sugar foods like cakes and sweets as they will only give you short bursts of energy and you will end up dipping afterwards.
2. Stay active when you feel yourself getting tired
The night shift tends to be quieter if most of the patients are asleep, which can make it harder to stay alert. Try and keep yourself active – use this time to do some paperwork, cleaning or even just walk up and down the ward.
3. Stay hydrated
If you’ve been asleep all day, it is sometimes easy to forget to drink water when you’re on shift. Being dehydrated will make you feel worse, and you’ll end up with a headache. Drinking cold water will also help you feel awake.
4. Don’t drink caffeine before the end of the shift
Coffee is almost essential to get you through your shift, but make sure you don’t have caffeine in the last 2 hours of your shift as this will stop you being able to fall asleep properly once your shift has ended.
5. Avoid daylight once your home
Sunlight stimulates the brain and body, so you need to make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible. Blackout curtains or an eye mask work great. Try and avoid looking at your phone or laptop before sleep as this will also affect how easily you sleep.
6. Make sure you eat before you go to sleep
Have a small healthy breakfast before you sleep otherwise you will wake up hungry a few hours later. A heavy meal just before bed will most likely make you feel uncomfortable.