How to Manage a Night Shift Schedule While Maintaining a Normal Life

night shift

night shift

I (Mike) get so many questions about how I manage my night shift schedule as a nurse and the rest of our life. I’ve talked about my routine in the past but figured it was time to put it all down into a blog post. This way you will really get a feel for how I make it all work. If you don’t already know, I work the weekend program —  Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, from 7 PM to 7 AM. I chose this schedule because it allows me to be off during the week to work with Alex on the blog and our other projects. It’s great to stay consistent by working three days in a row and having four consecutive days off. Since those “off” days are packed, I need to switch back to a normal schedule pretty quickly. To be honest, it’s hard and not for everyone. It took me quite some time to get into a rhythm and feel okay doing it. But for me, the pros outweigh the cons.

I do things a little bit differently than other people when it comes to prepping for the night shift. A lot of my friends go to sleep at a normal time the night before and just nap during the day to get ready. I honestly have no idea how they do it. I’ve tried that in the past and I am so tired during the shift. Instead, I stay up as long as I can on the night before my first shift. Since that day happens to be Friday, Alex and I always have a pizza and movie night so that helps. If I’m lucky, I make it to 5 AM and sleep until 2 PM. This way I really pack in as many hours as possible to keep me going during my shift. I’ve found this is the only way I can make it through the night. I also make sure to drink tons of water, eat healthy foods, and workout throughout the weekend (more on that in a second) to keep me going.

After the first shift, I get home around 8:30 AM, shower, and try to get to sleep by 10 AM. I then sleep until 4 PM. I do the same thing for my last night. Something I’ve found that has really helped me sleep during the day is CBD. I’ve talked about this countless times on stories — it’s truly a miracle worker. Lord Jones is my go-to brand. It’s a bit pricey but lasts a long time and makes the world of difference. Occasionally I also take melatonin if I’m having extra trouble falling asleep. It just depends on how I’m feeling.

I don’t leave for work until 6 PM so I always try to fit in a workout. Sometimes I find myself wanting to stay in bed longer but I know that if I get my body moving, I will feel so much better. It truly makes a huge difference. But don’t worry, if you feel like you need that extra hour of sleep, don’t push yourself to exercise. Listen to your body. This is what works for me. Now, here’s where I change it up so I can get back to normal life on Tuesday (first day off). I go to sleep at 10 AM on Tuesday morning and only sleep until 2ish. I never sleep more than 4 hours on my first day off. This way I will be tired by the time I go t0 bed that night. Sometimes it can be hard to actually fall asleep that morning because I am so excited to be off work — I want to hang out with Alex, jump on stories, etc. But I force myself to get right to bed. It’s a bit rough when I first wake up and I drink lots of coffee but this is the easiest way to snap my body back into a normal routine.

If you are a fellow nightshift worker, you might do something totally different. Let me know what you do in the comments below! As I mentioned, a lot of my friends follow other routines. But this is the only way I am able to make it through my three-day stretch and then get back to normal life. Sending you lots of love xo.

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Shannon Fehrenbach
2 years ago

I work about 7-8 overnight shifts a month, 6am-6pm (on a modified DuPont schedule, look it up if you’re curious). Unless there’s OT, those nights are either in a 3 or 4 night stretch (although I’ve done as many as 7 or 8, again, depending on staffing). Before my first night, I usually go to bed at a normal time and then try to nap during the day. I think my body would prefer if I did what you do, Mike, and stay up late, but I already miss out on snuggling with my partner and I don’t want to give up yet another night of that! I get home by about 6-6:15am (the shift is 6-6 but we usually do relief between 5:30 and 5:45). I try to be in bed by 7 and sleep until 2, get up, walk the dog, work out, pack my lunch, and be out the door by 5. I sometimes have a hard time sleeping until 2 especially while my partner is home, which these days is most of the time! Getting off after my final night shift I also try to limit my sleep to about 4 hours, but I usually wake up feeling like trash the rest of the day no matter how long I sleep. I almost never have trouble sleeping through the night after this, though, so I am grateful for that. I’ve also found that healthy food and hydration are two key aspects of my success. And Diet Coke. I’m not big on coffee, although I sometimes will drink it in the winter, but Diet Coke is my one vice. Overall I loooove working night shift and I wish all of my shifts could be night shifts!!! Thanks for showing the world the craziness of shift work, Mike! It certainly helps to have a wonderful and supportive partner like we both do! ~Shannon from Illinois <3

Molly Zimmerman
Molly Zimmerman
2 years ago

yes! we do the same thing for our nights off, but i just take a little nap the day of my first shift back (if i’m lucky! )

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