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14 Tips for Staying Awake During the Night Shift

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Update: May 26, 2023
6 min read

Written by

Arun Das
Content Writer
How To Stay Awake On A Night Shift

If you work a shift job, sometimes it becomes impossible to avoid the dreaded night shift. But our body has an internal clock known as the circadian rhythm, which works based on your environment’s lightness or darkness. When there is darkness outside, the brain releases melatonin, the sleep hormone. So, when you stay up all night, you try to work against this natural process. But don’t worry. We have you covered. Read ahead to know how to stay awake on a night shift!

What is the night shift?

The night shift, also referred to as the third shift, is a work schedule in which employees work until after midnight. While the specific hours may vary depending on the industry, for instance, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., it generally involves working during the late evening and early morning hours. In the past, only certain professions such as healthcare and factory workers required night shifts. However, with the changing landscape of work, an increasing number of fields now require employees to work during the night, either on-site or in remote positions. Here are some other industries that commonly hire employees for the night shift:

  • Security
  • Law Enforcement
  • Transportation
  • Manufacturing
  • Information Technology (IT)
  • E-commerce
  • Forestry
  • Hospitality
  • Entertainment
  • Repair and Maintenance

1. Find Time To Nap

One of the easiest ways how to stay awake at work is to find a short while to nap. You can also take a 30-minute short nap just before your shift begins and a 10 to 20-minute nap in the middle of your shift if you feel extremely tired or sleepy. Taking frequent short breaks helps optimise your energy levels. This is how to wake yourself up at work when you are too sleepy.

2. Don’t Consume Too Much Caffeine

 How to wake yourself up when tired at work? Coffee can be the answer. But one may assume caffeine is the ideal solution while battling sleep. However,  as the saying goes, too much is too bad. You can enjoy a cup or two as your shift begins, and stick to water or fruit juice during the second half of your shift. Too much caffeine can adversely impact your sleep once the work ends. 

You can also try caffeine naps. It is a technique for consuming a hot cuppa just before your 15 or 20-minute nap. It is believed that a coffee nap helps elevate your energy levels and keep you fresh!

3. Plan a Sleep Schedule

Have a sleep schedule in place. Even though you work nights and sleep in the morning, having a proper routine can help avoid fatigue and sleepiness during the night shifts. You can also try different patterns until you find the one that suits you the best. It can be immediately going to bed as soon as your shift ends or staying awake until later in the day. However, ensure you enjoy the right amount of sleep, i.e., 7 to 9 hours daily.  

4. Talk to a doctor about melatonin

One reason you may be sleepy is that you still need to get used to this sleep-wake cycle. It can be because melatonin production during the day can be less, and it is a vital hormone to aid sleep. Fortunately, today you have melatonin supplements that can help solve this problem. And when you sleep well, you won’t struggle to stay awake during your night shift. But make sure you speak with your doctor before you start any melatonin supplements. 

5. Optimise your sleep environment

How to stay awake on a 12-hour night shift? As aforementioned, good sleep helps you perform better during your night shift and enables you to stay awake. And if falling asleep during the day feels difficult, optimise your sleep environment. Some of the things you can try include;

  • Sleep in darkness. 
  • Reduce any noise. 
  • Keep the room temperature cool as per your need.

6. Create a solid bedtime routine

One of the tips for staying awake at work is to enjoy a good sleep. And since it differs from a nighttime routine, make sure you develop a solid bedtime routine suitable for you! Some of the tips you can use include;

  • Give yourself some time to unwind after a long shift. Try relaxing activities, like reading, listening to music. 
  • Put your electronics away at least an hour before you sleep. 
  • Have a light snack before you sleep. 
  • You can take a warm bath an hour or two before you hit the sheets. 
  • Have a consistent sleep time.

7. Set up a dark sleeping area

You can set up a dark sleeping area to ensure you sleep without any hassles. When you are exposed to light, it can shorten and delay your sleep cycle. And since light is the main factor affecting your sleep readiness, setting up a dark sleeping area can help you out. Some of the things you can try include;

  • Try dark curtains 
  • Wear an eye sleep mask

8. Exercise when you wake up

Regular physical activity can do wonders for your health. But one of the main advantages of exercising as you wake up is that it helps improve your sleep quality and decrease any sleep complaints. 

9. Eat a healthy meal before work

Maintaining a healthy diet can be slightly difficult when you work night shifts. However, eating a healthy meal before work is essential because it keeps all digestive issues at bay. You can eat fruits, lean meat, poultry, fish, bread crackers, and dairy products. It is how to wake up at work. 

10. Stay busy throughout your shift

How to stay awake on night shift as a cop? Stay busy or even move around. Staying busy can help you combat any sleepiness. If you have a dull period at work, make sure you move around or try doing a puzzle or reading a book. Anything to keep your mind active. You can also get an early start on all your tasks so you finish them well within time. 

11. Keep your workspace bright

Have you ever found it extremely difficult when the room is too bright? Well, it is because of the circadian rhythm, our body’s internal clock. It produces sleep hormones when the room is dark. So now, keeping your workspace dark can aid sleepiness and make it difficult to stay awake. So, if you are wondering how to stay awake on night shift while pregnant? Then make sure you keep the workspace bright.

12. Make friends with your colleagues

To avoid falling asleep at work, make friends with colleagues. When you have friends at your workplace, you tend to have fun. Maybe it’s just the usual office gossip, or you have conversations about something more meaningful. But this is only possible when your colleagues are your friends. So, if you still haven’t been able to get to know them, it’s time to strike up a friendship now!

13. Listen to upbeat music or podcasts

If your job allows, you can listen to upbeat music or podcasts to keep you active and involved in something other than your work. You can also try this for waking up at work if you fall asleep at desk.

14. Take regular breaks

How to stay awake on night shift without sleep? Take frequent breaks. 

When you take breaks as and when you feel tired or sleepy, it can help you regroup your mind and return to work feeling refreshed. Just a 10-minute break can help you out. This is how to stay awake at work.


If you can’t stay awake at work, try the above-mentioned tips as they can help you out. Make sure you enjoy a proper sleep before your night shift as it helps you wake up refreshed and ready to face the day!


How do you survive 12-hour night shifts?

Try opting for the above-mentioned tips to stay awake at work, such as take a nap, opt for frequent breaks, listen to music and have a glass or two of caffeine.

How do people survive the night shift without sleep?

Try taking a short 30-minute nap before your shift begins and opt for 10-20 minute naps as frequently as possible throughout the day.

When should I sleep if I work nights?

Try to go to bed before 8 AM.

Do night shifts age you?

Frequent night shifts for more than 10 years or so can decrease your odds of healthy ageing.

What is the healthiest work schedule?

The day shift is the healthiest as it is circadian rhythm friendly.

Why is the night shift so hard?

Night shifts are heard because our body releases sleep hormones, known as melatonin, when it is dark outside.


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Written by

Arun Das
Content Writer
With a Master's Degree in Mass Communication and nearly two decades of professional expertise in crafting healthcare articles, he possesses a wealth of experience and knowledge in the field.

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