How to Work Midnight Shift

The midnight shift, also known as the graveyard shift, usually runs from 12 a.m. to 8 a.m. or spans a similar time range. Working the midnight shift may be difficult on your physical and mental health as well as on your family or personal life considering the unusual hours. Because human bodies are biologically designed to stay awake during the day and sleep at night, studies have shown that working the midnight shift may be linked and lead to a number of health problems; such as heart disease, insomnia, mood disorders and more. However, there are specific steps you can take to ensure that you stay healthy and maintain positive relationships with others when you work a midnight shift. Read on to learn more about how to incorporate a midnight shift into your lifestyle.


  1. Image titled Work Midnight Shift Step 1
    Create a sleeping environment that prevents interruptions. The average person requires at least 8 hours of sleep per night to function optimally, so you must ensure that your sleeping environment supports your schedule.
    • Sleep in a dark room. Since the human body is biologically designed to stay awake during sunlight hours, you must trick your body into thinking it's dark out by blocking out sunlight. In addition to helping induce REM sleep, the melatonin hormone is produced at night in the dark to prevent tumor developments. Exposing your body to sunlight while you sleep will suppress your body's ability to create melatonin. Methods to block sunlight include hanging dark curtains or shades over your windows, as well as wearing a sleeping mask.
    • Eliminate noise. Since the majority of people are awake during the day, you may be exposed to sounds of traffic and neighbors while you sleep. Methods to block out noise include wearing earplugs or running a fan in your bedroom, which usually blocks out background noises. Turn off your phone or pager before sleeping to avoid interruptions.
    • Establish a bedtime ritual and sleeping routine. Before going to sleep, perform a relaxing activity to help you unwind from your shift such as reading a book, listening to soft music, or taking a warm bath. You should also maintain a consistent sleeping schedule even on your days off to adapt your body to working the midnight shift.
  2. Image titled Work Midnight Shift Step 2
    Eat healthy foods. Since the majority of restaurants are typically closed during the midnight shift, it's crucial to focus on maintaining a healthy diet. Prepare your meals at home and bring them to work to avoid eating vending-machine snacks or other unhealthy foods. You will also want to limit caffeine to the hours prior to your shift or at the beginning of your shift.
  3. Image titled Work Midnight Shift Step 3
    Exercise regularly. In addition to helping you stay fit, exercise will naturally increase your energy, positively impact your mood, and will also help you sleep better. Perform exercise before you begin your shift or during your breaks. Avoid exercising within 2 hours of going to sleep to prevent increased heart rate and restlessness so you can fall asleep on time.
  4. Image titled Work Midnight Shift Step 4
    Maintain your social life. Make time to call your loved ones and friends from work or during your break and make plans with them on your days off work to maintain social ties. You should also publicize both your work and sleeping routines to friends and family to help them understand and be aware of your current lifestyle.
  5. Image titled Work Midnight Shift Step 5
    Transition easily into working a midnight shift. Although it may seem difficult to adjust your body's sleeping patterns, there are steps you can take to prepare for daytime sleeping.
    • Take daily naps between noon and 5 p.m. before beginning a midnight shift. Not only will naps help increase your alertness and performance, but your body naturally experiences increased sleepiness during these hours.
    • Turn on bright lights between the hours of 2 a.m. and 7 a.m. Bright lights will help decrease your sleepiness, especially when the peak of sleepiness occurs during these hours.
    • Establish a caffeine strategy and schedule. Caffeine will stimulate your body during the midnight shift and wear off before your shift ends when taken right before or at the beginning of your shift. Try to avoid caffeine a few hours before you go to sleep.


  • Suppressing your body's ability to create melatonin may result in health problems such as breast cancer, prostate cancer and other cancerous tumors, however creating a dark sleeping environment will help eliminate these risks.
  • Although some doctors recommend taking melatonin supplements as a sleep aid, taking it too often or regularly may hinder your body's ability to produce melatonin naturally. Consult with your doctor first before taking any sleeping aids or supplements.

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Categories: Work Schedules