Can’t Sleep After Night Shift? 13 Weird Tips That Actually Work​

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I bet you’re sick and tired of the same old boring sleep suggestions after night shift? Close the blackout blinds. Turn on a white noise machine…You’ve tried the traditional suggestions but nothing seems to work.

Rather than accept being tired on night shift is a given, we’ve searched high and low for the weirdest, wackiest tips that will actually help you relax and have a good days sleep. Let’s explore how these can help.  

Finding the ultimate sleep routine is important for those of us working against our body clock. Putting methods in place that you can fall back too, whenever you feel a little stressed or agitated, will work wonders for your overall health and place less strain on the body.

The key here is to embrace whatever is listed below, even if it sounds crazy silly, and try it before you decide on a lasting opinion. You’ll be surprised what some of these 13 suggestions can do!

If you are interested in checking out the best eye mask which helps us fall asleep quickly, you can find them by clicking here.

1. Wear Gloves and Socks to Bed

This simple trick can be crazy effective in helping you sleep!

The science:

The easiest way to explain what’s actually happening behind the gloves and socks thing is that as your hands and feet warm up, the blood vessels in your limbs heat up and become bigger. This is called “Vasodilation.” 

When this happens it sends a message to the brain that it’s time for sleep, putting you a much better position for some shut-eye. (source)

As a fun fact…

Wearing socks can also decrease the chance of night sweats and hot flushes as there is better temperature control occurring while you sleep.

But there is a trick to which socks to choose 

Basic cotton socks are okay but not the best choice to really make this sleep hack work for you.

However, these Bearfoot Dream socks are perfect because they are in no way restricting and are made of wooly materials which heat your feet more effectively than cotton. See them on Amazon

Pro tip: Change your socks after each wear. Despite not getting “dirty”, the sweat and bacteria inside your socks can give you nasty fungal infections with overuse. (source)

What if I don’t like wearing socks?

Using a hot water bottle, an extra blanket or even allowing your dog to sit on your legs can have similar positive effects.

Even consider wearing insulated slippers after you get home from a shift, right up until you jump into bed.

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Check out these cosy Barefoot DreamsOpens in a new tab. bed socks

VIDEO – If you’re getting too hot, this video explores some options – including my favorite socks!

2. Drink Cherry Tart Juice

Did you know there are certain foods which can boost sleep? 

Well, cherry tart juice is one of them!

For the avid cooks, you’ll know these cherries are commonly used in cooking and are known as the “sour” cherries. 

They are believed to contain higher antioxidant levels than sweet cherries, boosting their health benefits making them a little more palpable. (source)

But how do they help us sleep?

Well, Tart cherries are a natural source of melatonin, which is our sleep-regulating hormone. (source)

You may know that Melatonin only works while it’s dark which traditionally, suits the 9-5 worker, but not so much those who sleep while it’s light. 

So, as night shift workers, our melatonin levels need all the help it can get!

Eating foods which are naturally high in Melatonin boosts its levels before we intend on sleeping during the day. This helps our somewhat confused body clock to still sleep and replenish from a big shift.  

If you’re not too keen on the taste of cherries but are willing to try a few other sleep-inducing foods, here are a few to choose from:

  • Rolled oats
  • Fruits and veggies like banana, apples, tart cherries, kiwi, tomato, spinach, corn and avocado
  • Dairy products like milk and cheese
  • Turkey
  • Salmon, shrimp and tuna
  • Walnuts and cashews
  • Beans like kidney beans, black beans (hello breakfast burrito!) and chickpea. 
  • Barley

We recently wrote a post about what to eat after a night shift to help you sleep. We want to help you fall to sleep quicker and prevent not only waking with reflux but also hunger pains! Click on the image to explore 

Pink socks with white dots
Please share these weird tips with your shift working mates!

3. Wear Special Glasses 

Yes, we are promoting the use of wearing glasses inside like a celeb!

But not just any old glasses…

We are talking about wearing the orange lens, blue light blocking glasses that are not quite yet socially acceptable (to most people anyway). This is what I am talking about…

Despite the different appearance… We jumped on the blue light blocking glasses train about 12 months to help us sleep. The fact they stopped eye strain due to looking at our devices too long, was just a bonus!  

But how do they actually help us sleep?

This may come as a shock, but the light coming from your devices and lights around your home are keeping your sleep hormones awake preventing them from doing their job… Scary huh?

By wearing these glasses, you are blocking out this visual blue light spectrum to provide the ultimate environment for these hormones before you sleep.

So… you can either come home after a night shift and sit in a pitch-black room to allow these hormones to do their job. Or… simply wear these glasses and go about your normal business, making breakfast, watching TV and scrolling your device. 

I know what I’d pick…

They may seem odd and even a little weird when you first use them, but you very quickly get used to them once you start feeling amazing results (which took about 1-2 weeks for us). 

We use Swannies from Swanwick Sleep and recommend them to you without any hesitation. 

Here is the link to the Swanwick Sleep website to click here to read more about why we love them.

Dan wearing Aviator blue light blocking glasses from Swanwick Sleep – see website here.
Remember to keep your blue light blocking glasses on even when brushing your teeth! See what other Sleep aids are available from Swanwick Sleep – here

If you need some more information about blue light and these glasses, look at the posts we recently published below:

4. Enjoy The Sun’s Rays

This sleep hack may not seem “weird” for those who work 9-5 but it certainly is for those who work the night shift. 

How are we supposed to get sun exposure to boost our sleep when we should be sleeping, not lazing in the sun!?

But why does it even matter?

The way our body clocks are programmed to work is entirely dependent on light and dark signals.

Your body needs to know when it’s light and when it’s dark to perform particular tasks at particular times. I like to think about our bodies (and each cell in fact) as one big alarm clock…

If we only remain in the dark (with limited sunlight) and move from the bedroom to work and back again, our body clocks are permanently confused at what time it is.

This can not only make us feel pretty horrible, but our health can suffer too.

I’m not suggesting to have a morning sunbake before you sleep, but I am advocating for late afternoon to evening sun time. It will boost your vitamin D levels, help you “de-stress” and allow you to sleep much better. 

Here are a few motivational suggestions to get you out of the house and into the sun :

  • Walk your dog or visit the dog park (which yes is possible as a night shift worker… we have an entire post about it here)
  • Catch up with a friend and go for a light jog outside in the sun
  • Go on a stroll with your neighbor around the block
  • Participate in an outside community fitness group
  • Enjoy having your dinner outside before a shift if it’s light enough
  • Spend time watering your garden and pulling out the weeds
  • Wash the car by hand to make it look brand new again

Weirdest sun suggestion while on night shift…

I am not sure I entirely agree with this one, but I knew a guy who moved his bed near the window on a sunny day to feel the suns rays which was apparently “very relaxing”.

Despite having ALL the blinds open, he wore a very impressive sleeping mask to block out pretty much 100% of the sun. The type he used, you’ll find in this post which explores the most popular ones on the market.

Here are two other personal recommendations on the eye mask front.

  • This pure silk eye mask from Swanwick Sleep is over-sized and just amazingly comfortable to wear.
  • But this option from Alaska Bear Natural Silk Sleep MaskOpens in a new tab. on Amazon is also VERY popular and worth checking out.

5. Try Left Nostril (Ida) Breathing

I learned this relaxation trick through my beautiful sister who regularly practices yoga.

If you wake up in the middle of the day and your mind is racing, try this.

Take your right hand with your fingers outstretched, pointing towards the sun (or the moon) and block your right nostril with the right thumb and breath SLOWLY out your left nostril.

The alternative method (which is shown in the video below) again uses one hand, but you breathe in with your left nostril, blocking your right, then breathing out your right nostril. Breathing in left… breathing out right…

Sounds odd but it does force you to relax. Here is a video to show what I mean. 

The action starts at about the 1-minute mark of this video…

Continue doing this for three minutes even when lying in bed.

The real yogis say to sit cross-legged with your left hand on your left knee at the same time, but I have found lying in bed and simply relaxing that left hand where comfortable works well too.

The science:

For those of you unfamiliar with yoga science, the left nostril provides Ida energy, the female, passive, moon energy which slows you down and keeps you relaxed. Whereas, the right nostril is active, awakening, male and charges your fight or flight response.

Yin and yang my friends.

Despite being a little pessimistic about this sleep technique, I gave it a go and was surprised at how many times I keep coming back to the same trick.

If you’re looking for a great book to give you a heap more breathing techniques to try after a night shift, The Oxygen AdvantageOpens in a new tab. is a great read.

It’s available on Amazon for a cheaper price then I was expecting for amazing value. Check it out here.Opens in a new tab.

6. Push Your Brain to the Front of Your Head

This one is from my dad and is stupidly effective.

This technique uses distraction more than anything to help you sleep. 

Once you’re in bed, get into a comfortable position (which for me is on my back and I encourage you to do the same) and relax your arms, legs and also face. Then take 10 or so deep, slow breaths focusing solely on breathing. Picture your chest rising and falling. Totally relaxed. 

Then, gently, try to literally push your brain to the front of your head.

I initially complained that it “hurt” but this “pain” distracted me so much from everything else in my mind, such as the night shift I had just completed, I soon drifted off to sleep.  

I know it seems super weird but it’s worth a shot. Don’t give up after a minute if it’s not working. Give it time. 

7. Roll Your Eyes

I know I snuck this in at number 7, but this is actually my go-to technique. 

When I’m lying on my back I concentrate so hard on simply rolling my eyes (with my eye closed). It’s almost instantaneous that I start to feel dizzy and my body moving into snooze land.

The science:

Rolling your eyes in a particular way triggers your brain to release the natural sleep hormone, melatonin we spoke about earlier. Making these movements deliberately while in bed can put you into that relaxed state of mind.

Here’s how to do it:

First, close your eyes and actively try to relax all your muscles. Working your way up from your feet to your face can help approach this systematically.

Then roll your eyes up and down slowly, paying attention to your breathing and the incredibly relaxing feeling. I find that even if I just “push my eyes up” I have the same sleep-inducing effects.

Related post: 9 Shift Work Best Practices You’re Probably Not Doing

8. Purposeful Stretching

Stretching in bed is not only good for your overall health and fitness but also improving your quality of life. (source)

Stretching in bed? Sounds easy enough.

But why does it work?

  1. “Getting in touch with your body by stretching helps to focus your attention on your breath and body, not the stressors of the day (2)”
  2. Stretching can help relieve muscle cramps which could normally wake you up.
  3. Gentle movement can improve sleep quality by promoting mindfulness.

So what stretches should I do?

  • Give yourself a bear hug with your legs wrapped up towards your chest or simply stand tall giving yourself a big hug, using your breath to alternate arm positions. 
  • Gentle neck movements. Pull your right ear towards your right shoulder, hold for 5 breaths then repeat on the left side. Next, look over your right shoulder, hold for 5 breaths, then repeat on the left, again, holding for five breaths. 
  • Childs pose (as seen in the picture). Come to all fours, widen your knees and lower your whole body until your head makes contact with the floor (rolling a small towel to “bring the earth to you” is something I learned at yoga which works really well.). Then outstretch your arms and breath deep, in and out. Stay here for a few minutes.
child's pose | Can't Sleep After Night Shift? 13 Weird Tips That Actually Work​
Doing a child’s pose stretch such as this can help you relax and decrease muscle strain needed to sleep well and therefore making the adjustment easier to the night shift

Stretching Tip…

What are you doing while your waiting for the kettle to boil or the microwave to finish? These are great times to move and stretch before you get into bed.
  • Seated forward bend

You may have done something similar if you like to play sports.

Sit down and reach forward trying to touch your toes. If you can only reach your calf or ankles that’s cool, just stay here, tucking your head to your chest for a few minutes. 

  • Relaxing hip opener

Lay down in bed or on the floor, bend your knees, putting your ankles together. Then slowly open your knees to widen your hips. Let your knees just hang out wide. Hold this position for 5 – 10 minutes maybe while you read?

I am a visual learner so I have attached another video, my with favorite online yoga guru.

Adrienne (from Yoga with Adrienne) takes you through a great bedtime yoga routine and goes through some (plus, more) of the stretches I mentioned above. 

9. Stick Your Legs up on the Wall

You may have done this after a big day on your feet, but this pose is also great when you’re tossing and turning after working a night shift. 

It not only helps tired, sore legs but it also helps restore blood flow, relieves swollen ankles (which is all too common for night shift workers) and relieves mild backaches.

The science:

It reverses gravity, helping to regulate your blood pressure and improve your digestion. It’s considered “inversion”, similar to a handstand, but it’s the lazy man’s version of the same thing. 

We wrote an entire post about how to relieve foot and leg pain after standing all day and we feature this post inside the article. Check it out here.

10. Curl Your Toes

It seems ridiculous but try laying on your back while in bed and slowly curl your toes, holding it for about 5-10 seconds, then release. Try doing this same movement for about 10 minutes.

It will feel like you’ve had an expensive foot massage… for free!

The feeling of this repetitive movement can put you into dreamland. 

Note the pattern…Take a deep breath, squeeze the muscle, and release.

You can also do the same for other muscles too. 

Start by curling your toes, then work your way up to your head by moving from your feet, calves, thighs, entire legs, stomach, buttocks, chest, arms, shoulders, neck and face.

This nifty trick is known as progressive muscle relaxation and it’s worth giving a shot.

Temperature Sleep Hack…

While curling your toes, remember to keep your bedroom cool to allow your body to naturally decrease in temperature. But what temperature? Somewhere between 60 and 67°F (15-19°C) is ideal.

11. Relax as the US Military Do

Back in a 1981, Lloyd Winter wrote a book titled, “Relax and Win: Championship Performance”. In it, he published a technique which enabled pilots to fall asleep in 2 minutes flat despite gunfire and chaos in the surrounding environment. 

Despite being an older book, the technique is still hugely popular and doesn’t involve anything crazy.

Here it is:

  • Lay on your back with your arms and legs relaxed and to the side. 
  • Close your eyes and purposefully relax your face, feel your jaw, tongue and forehead drop.
  • Then, drop or relax your shoulders as low as they go.
  • Continue to breathe slowly, relaxing your chest, then your legs, thighs and calves. 
  • Then for the fun part, picture yourself either lying in a canoe on a calm lake or body of water, with nothing but blue sky above you. Or laying cozy in a pitch-black room on a black velvet hammock.
  • If this visualization thing isn’t working try saying, ‘don’t think, don’t think, don’t think’, over and over again, for ten seconds.

Does it work?
According to the book, the method is said to have a 96% success rate after six weeks of practice. So be patient.

If you want to check out this book and read the advice for yourself, here is the linkOpens in a new tab. to the book available via Amazon. 

12. Count Backward From 100 Very Slowly

This is also a very effective sleep trick I recently stumbled across. 

It uses simple distraction which works well if your brain is jumping around like a yo-yo! It gives you something to concentrate on, making you stick to one simple task.  

Here is what to do:

Find the same position you did in the earlier suggestion (on your back with your legs, arms and face relaxed) then start counting 100…breath…99…breath…98…

The breath is important as it slows you down to make it feel less like a race or competition. If you forget where you are up to, don’t get frustrated and instead simply start back to the start. 

I don’t remember ever getting past about 80…

13. Try Acupressure

Acupressure is often used to treat insomnia but even if you don’t have this condition, this method could still be beneficial to help you sleep. 

“Acupressure involves using physical touch to stimulate pressure points that correspond to different aspects of physical and mental health”. (source)

While you can have acupressure done professionally, you can quickly learn a few things for yourself by watching the video below.

See more images of how we do it here – What Causes Night Shift Nausea and How to Finally Beat It

Other Useful Sleep Tips After Night Shift

There are a few other things in regards to sleep which have saved my butt as an ER nurse and I wanted to share them with you. 

  • Make sure your bedroom is 100% blacked out (or as close as you can). Investing in blackout blinds like the super popular NICETOWN Blackout Curtain BlindsOpens in a new tab. on Amazon is a great start and a product we highly recommend. Use your days off to create a de-cluttered “cave” for yourself.
  • Enjoy a warm shower or bath (with Epsom salts) before you sleep and remember to wash your face. We wrote an entire post about the best post night shift beauty routine with product recommendations. I learned a few things myself putting this one together! Check it out here.
  • Read a book using an amber book light and blue light blocking glasses. We have a whole post about the best reading book lights on Amazon and why we love them. Check it out here.
  • Have a notepad by your bed. Simply writing something down while in bed stops your brain from having to “remember it” and that helps most relax. 
  • Listen to sleep music or meditative stories. We have an entire post about our favorite sleep music with a bunch of videos and playlist suggestions. Check it out here.
  • Work out after night shift. We recently wrote an entire post about this topic titled, “Sleep or Workout? What Should I Do After Night Shift?” which I encourage you to check out if this is something you want to try. We learned a lot of cool stuff putting this post together.
  • Move somewhere else in your home to sleep which is not so loud, hot or bright… Think the spare room, basement or even your car parked in the garage. You’ll be surprised how quite these places can be during the day.

What about Melatonin?

Despite being effective in the past I don’t rely on it to sleep after night shift. I have found other very effective strategies listed here which I always prefer to try first. However, having 3mg tablets for an “emergency” is something I encourage. Just be careful you may wake up feeling very groggy.

Nature Made Melatonin 3 mg TabletsOpens in a new tab. on Amazon are very popular and have worked well for us in an emergency. Take a look at this reliable melatonin brand here.Opens in a new tab.

Related posts:


Sleeping after night shift and staying healthy in the process is our bread and butter.

We love writing posts which help the wider shift work and night shift community with this challenge. 

Here are a few posts that can help you sleep after night shift. 

Summary: Can’t Sleep After Night Shift? 13 Weird Tips That Actually Work​

I know to sleep after a night shift can feel like an impossible task. But with these weird and also more mainstream sleeping suggestions, you will (hopefully!) no longer feel tired while working the night shift.

Thanks for reading our article about sleeping after a night shift. What other whacky suggestions do you have to help you fall asleep during the day? Let us know in the comments below.


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Disclosure: This page may contain affiliate links, meaning we receive a commission if you decide to make a purchase through our links, but this is at no additional cost to you. Please read our disclosure and privacy statement for more info.

Toes curled under
Canoe with blue skye

Emma @ The Other Shift

Hey there! I'm Emma Smith a passionate, Registered Nurse from Australia. Together with my husband Daniel, we run The Other Shift. Our sole aim is to help shift workers and those on unusual schedules find balance between work and life. I understand the challenges of fitting in exercise, maintaining relationships and getting enough quality sleep, but I'm excited to show you that it’s possible to do shift work and still thrive. Read more about us and our story here.

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