Health & Wellbeing

How Can NHS Staff Deal With The Night Shift

Whether you’re a newbie or experienced, working the night shift can often be difficult, especially within the past year. Although the responsibilities don’t differ from day to night, the night shift requires you to make some significant adjustments to your own personal routine and new challenges presenting themselves.


Night shifts do vary, with many typically starting at 11pm and finishing at 7am, with some even starting shifts as early as 8pm and finishing at 8am the next morning. These long hours presents the challenge of getting into a routine that allows you to be fresh and ready for the shift, whilst also trying to get those much needed hours of sleep during the day.

So here are our top tips to help NHS staff deal with the night shift, including advice for when you can’t sleep after a night shift, and how to avoid shift work sleep disorder with the NHS.

Our Top Tips to Deal With The NHS Night Shift

Have you got an NHS night shift coming up and are looking for some tips on how to deal with it? One of the hardest things to deal with is when you can’t sleep after a night shift and find yourself lying awake for hours – which is not ideal if you’ve got work again the following night! Check out our top tips to help you deal with your next NHS night shift.

Accept That You Are on Nights

Remember that if you are on night shifts, you need to follow a healthy lifestyle to take care of yourself. Accept that you are on night shifts and that this will also affect your daytime routines. You will not be able to go about your normal day and then tackle a night shift, you will cause yourself to burn out.

Blackout Curtains

Perfect, especially during the summer months, blackout curtains can help create an environment that mimics nighttime, blocking out the daytime sun and making it easier to sleep once your shift is over.

Avoid Stimulants

Coffee might work wonders for you on shift or before you start, but having one when you get home or at the end of your shift isn’t the best idea. It will keep you up and make sleeping even harder.

Limit Shift Changes

It can take time for your body to adjust to your new sleeping pattern, so it’s best to try and avoid or at least limit too many shift changes. Alternating from day to night every other day is not healthy, and you’ll begin to find your body clock spinning out of control. Also please consider this when asking for overtime, yes you want to help out more and gain more pay but your health is more important.

Get To Bed!

Make sure you sleep as soon as possible after you get home from your shift. If you delay your sleep, your body will want to prepare for the day ahead. Also, try to sleep the same number of hours each day.

Don’t Mess with Your Sleeping Pattern

Usually only try and have one block of sleep, waking up and then trying to go back to sleep with only leave you feeling more tired.

Control Noise

Turn your phone on silent, and do not fall asleep to the TV or radio in the background. You might think you can fall asleep better with it on, but it stops you from entering a deep sleep.

Create a Bedtime Routine

While it’s difficult when working nights, you should still try and maintain a bedtime routine. This could be a 10-minute warm shower, spend time reading a book, or maybe try meditating.

On Shift Tips

Now that you know how to look after yourself and your sleep during night shifts, here are our on-shift tips that will help you get through the night shift without too much bother.

Bond With Your Co-Workers

Getting along with the people you work with can improve your night shift experience. Nurses and healthcare staff rely so much on each other and being a part of a team, so ensure you’re playing your part by bonding with those you work with.

Stay Busy

The night shift may have more sleeping patients and fewer incomings but this slower-paced atmosphere can make the shift drag. So, ensuring you keep your mind active and alert is important, especially if a patient is in need. Catching up on paperwork and having more one-on-one time with awake patients, which means better care, are some ways to keep yourself busy.


Biggest Challenges for NHS Night Staff

Working in the healthcare industry always presents many challenges. Some of the biggest challenges night shift staff can face, outside of sleep and staying alert, are managing social activities and finding that work/life balance.

But night workers have all day free….

Not quite. The need for sleep and rest is still vitally important and once sleep has been achieved on either side of a shift, you are left with a few hours at most to really try and be social. Throw in errands, preparing for work and that time becomes dramatically shorter. Not to mention it’s a lot harder to be social when everyone you know is at work during the day. 

NHS Night Shift Policy

While you may not be happy about having to work a night shift due to how the NHS works, there may be times when you are needed for them. And it doesn’t matter if you’re a nurse or a porter and whether you are a night owl or an early riser.

Shift patterns are required as part of each role in the NHS, and these vary depending on the role. For example, medical staff, such as doctors, operate around three shifts:

  • Day Shifts – 7:45 am – 4.15 pm
  • Late Shift – 3:15 pm – 11:45 pm
  • Night/Twilight Shift – 10:45 pm – 8:45 am

All medics will be asked to do a pattern of these over a four-week period.

Whereas for nurses, housekeepers, and healthcare support workers, three different shifts start from 7 am:

  • Early Shift (7.5 hours)
  • Late Shift (7.5 hours)
  • Night Shift (10.75 hours)

Remember, if you work for the NHS or healthcare sector in any role, day or night, you can get access to hundreds of amazing discounts, along with cashback and vouchers,, when you sign up for free Health Service Discounts.

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