Switching From a Night to a Day Shift: How To Do It and Tips

Updated February 27, 2023

Many jobs require working night and day shifts. Sometimes, you might have to work a day shift directly after a night shift. If you're scheduled to work a day shift after a night shift, there are steps you can take to make the transition easier.

In this article, we list steps to transition from a night shift to a day shift and give tips for staying awake during your new shift.

What is switching from a night shift to a day shift?

People in many jobs, such as nursing and retail, occasionally have to work both overnight and day shifts. Working back-to-back night and day shifts can disrupt your sleep and eating, which can cause health effects, so it's important to take steps to create a smooth transition from night shifts to day shifts.

How to transition from a night shift to a day shift

Here are four simple steps that you can follow to transition from a night shift to a day shift:

1. Sleep between shifts

As you're transitioning from a night shift to a day shift, it's crucial to get the right amount of sleep in between shifts. Be sure to nap during shifts for long enough to get rest but not so long that you become drowsy. You can also develop a sleep schedule to make your sleep more regular. Some ways to optimize your sleep include:

  • Set an alarm. Be sure to set an alarm so that you wake up on time for your shift. It can be helpful to place your alarm on the other side of your room to prompt you to get out of bed.

  • Eliminate sleep disturbances. It's also important to eliminate sleep disturbances so you can get the best sleep possible. Consider turning off notifications on your phone or keeping it in a different room while you sleep, and If you live with other people, ask them to keep noise low while you sleep between shifts.

  • Unwind before you go to sleep. Before you go to sleep, try to do calming activities that help you release stress. Consider going for a walk, meditating, taking a hot bath or doing another activity that helps you relax. This can make it easier to fall asleep and improve the quality of your sleep.

Related: 12 Tips for Staying Healthy in the Workplace

2. Get sunlight

An important part of keeping your body in balance is getting sunlight. After you sleep, try to see and feel the sun, as this can affect your circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythms are internal cycles that regulate when people sleep and wake up, and keeping your circadian rhythms regulated is important to digestion, body temperature and more.

Furthermore, spending time outdoors can help energize you and release stress, which can benefit your health and productivity. Consider eating your breakfast outside or taking an outdoor walk before work.

3. Eat healthy meals and stay hydrated

Another key part of working irregular shifts is planning your meals. Often, working irregular shifts can affect people's eating schedules and habits. Therefore, it's important to plan healthy and balanced meals so that you have healthy food options on hand when you're tired. You should also be sure to stay hydrated during and between shifts, as this can help you feel more alert.

Related: 8 Strategies for Eating Healthier at Work

4. Try to exercise

You can also consider exercising before your day shift. Exercise can energize you, so some people enjoy exercising before work, including walking, running, going to the gym and doing yoga. If you would like, you can also exercise after your shift to relieve stress and help you sleep better.

Tips for staying awake after switching from a night shift to a day shift

When you first transition from a night shift to a day shift, you might experience tiredness, but there are actions you can take to make the transition easier. Here are tips you can use to help you stay awake during your new day shifts:

Keep moving

Physically moving your body is a great way to stay awake and alert throughout your new day shift. If you work in a job like nursing, you might move around frequently when performing your job duties. However, if you work a more stationary job, you might have to make more of an effort to get physical activity at work. Some ideas for physical movement at work include:

  • Walking around your workspace

  • Stretching in between job tasks

  • Taking the stairs instead of the elevator

  • Using a standing desk

  • Completing a light workout on your lunch break

  • Walking or biking to and from work

Related: 15 Workplace Exercises To Keep You Healthy at the Office

Eat healthy snacks and small meals

Throughout your shift, try to avoid eating large, heavy meals, as they can make you feel more lethargic. Instead, eat healthy snacks or small meals during your shift. Eating smaller portions of nourishing food can help you maintain your energy levels throughout the day without getting the crash associated with larger meals.

Create an energizing workspace

Creating an energizing workspace can also help you stay awake at work. Try to work in a brightly lit area let in sunlight if possible, as this can keep you from falling asleep. You could also clear enough room in your workspace for light physical activity, which can help you stay awake.

Related: Top Tips for Designing Your Workspace

Nap during your breaks

While you're adjusting to your new day shift, you can consider napping on your breaks if you're feeling especially tired. Taking quick naps—ideally around 20 minutes or less—can help you get energized without staying asleep long enough to feel groggy.

Drink coffee or tea

Drinking caffeine in coffee or tea can also help you stay awake during a new shift. It can be helpful to drink caffeine early in your shift to give you energy, but try to avoid it later in your shift to make it easier to fall asleep.


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