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

Ever felt like crawling into bed with a pair of cozy socks and gloves? Turns out, there might be more to this seemingly odd habit than meets the eye. While it may sound unconventional, research suggests that warming up your extremities before sleep can improve your chances of drifting off faster.

The science behind it boils down to vasodilation. As your hands and feet warm up, the blood vessels in these areas expand, allowing for better heat dissipation. According to The Sleep Foundation, This, in turn, signals to your brain that it’s time to wind down and enter sleep mode.

While any socks will do in a pinch, choosing the right ones can enhance the effect. Opt for breathable, moisture-wicking materials like wool or bamboo, as they trap less heat and prevent sweaty feet. Remember to change your socks regularly to maintain hygiene. (source) We really like these on Amazon and have bought multiple pairs.

Not a fan of socks? No worries! There are other ways to achieve the same warming effect. Try a hot water bottle at your feet, an extra blanket, or even cuddling with your furry friend. Additionally, wearing insulated slippers after work can help maintain warmth until bedtime. These ones are very popular.

Whether you’re a sock enthusiast or prefer alternative methods, exploring these unconventional sleep hacks might just be the key to unlocking a night of restful slumber.

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)

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

2. Drink Cherry Tart Juice

Looking for a natural way to support your sleep, especially if you work night shifts? Consider incorporating tart cherry juice into your routine.

Tart cherries are a unique source of melatonin, the hormone responsible for regulating our sleep-wake cycle. While melatonin production typically increases during darkness, night shift workers often experience disruptions in this natural rhythm. (source)

Studies suggest that consuming tart cherry juice can help elevate melatonin levels, potentially aiding sleep initiation and quality for individuals who work outside traditional daylight hours.

However, tart cherry juice isn’t the only option. Several other foods naturally contain melatonin or compounds that promote its production. These include:

  • Fruits and vegetables: Bananas, apples, kiwi, tomatoes, spinach, corn, and avocado.
  • Whole grains: Rolled oats and barley.
  • Protein sources: Turkey, salmon, shrimp, tuna, nuts, and beans.
  • Dairy products: Milk and cheese.

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

Remember, consistency is key! Regularly incorporating these foods into your diet, particularly before sleep, can offer long-term benefits for your sleep health.

If you are wondering about the difference in the nutritional value between tart cherry juice, gummies, and capsules, here is what I’ve found.

  • If you prioritize maximizing nutrient intake and don’t mind the taste or inconvenience, unsweetened tart cherry juice might be the best option.
  • If convenience and portability are key, tart cherry gummies can be a decent choice, but be mindful of added sugars and choose brands with minimal artificial ingredients.
  • Tart cherry capsules are ideal for those who dislike the taste or need a concentrated dose, but consult a healthcare professional before use if you have any concerns.

Hope that helps.

We recently wrote a post about what to eat after a night shift to help you decide how to fill your belly when you get home. We want to help you fall to sleep quicker and prevent not only waking with reflux but also hunger pains. Click the link to have a read.

3. Wear Blue Light Blocking Glasses Before Bed

Ever wondered if the orange-tinted glasses celebrities sport indoors hold any truth? These glasses, equipped with blue light blocking lenses, have gained popularity for their potential sleep-promoting benefits.

While the unconventional look might raise eyebrows, The Sleep Foundation suggests that blue light emitted from electronic devices and household lighting can suppress melatonin production, the hormone crucial for sleep regulation.

By filtering out this specific light spectrum, blue light blocking glasses may create a more sleep-conducive environment, potentially aiding in falling asleep faster and experiencing better sleep quality.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to plunge your home into darkness. Wearing these glasses while winding down in the evening, whether it’s reading, watching TV, or scrolling through your phone, could offer a practical alternative.

While individual experiences may vary, we can report a noticeable improvement in sleep quality within a few weeks of consistent use.

According to the Swanwick Sleep website, a 2020 study by the University of Washington and Indiana University was published in the Journal of Applied PsychologyOpens in a new tab. and featured in the Harvard Business ReviewOpens in a new tab.. The study found that workers who wore Night Swannies® Blue Light Blocking Glasses in the evening before bed, significantly improved the quality and quantity of their sleep, along with their effectiveness at work the next day.

It’s important to note that the effectiveness of blue light blocking glasses remains a topic of ongoing research. Consulting a healthcare professional can help determine if they are a suitable option for you.

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 and 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 – Strategically

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

Feeling your mind race after a night shift? This simple breathing technique, shared by my yoga-loving sister, might be your new go-to for relaxation.

Here’s how:

  1. Prepare: Extend your right hand fingers like they’re reaching for the sun (or moon).
  2. Exhale Calm: Gently close your right nostril with your thumb and exhale slowly through your left nostril.
  3. Alternate (optional): Alternatively, inhale through your left nostril with your right nostril closed, then exhale through your right nostril with your left closed. (See video at 1:00 mark for visual guidance).
  4. Maintain for 3 minutes: Continue this cycle for 3 minutes, even while lying in bed.
  5. Relaxation over Form: While some prefer a cross-legged posture, lying down and letting your left hand rest comfortably is perfectly fine.

The Science of Calm:

In yoga, the left nostril is linked to “Ida” energy, associated with calmness and relaxation. Conversely, the right nostril represents “Pingala” energy, related to activity and alertness. By focusing on left nostril breathing, you may naturally promote a state of tranquility. (source)

Skeptical but Surprised:

Despite initial doubts, this technique has become a reliable tool for me. If you’re searching for more sleep-supportive breathing exercises, check out “The Oxygen Advantage” for a deeper dive.

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 than I was expecting for amazing value. Check it out here.Opens in a new tab.

6. Dad’s Super Weird (But Effective) Sleep Trick: Pushing Your Brain Forward

This next tip comes from my dad, and trust me, it works surprisingly well despite sounding strange.

Here’s how to try it:

  1. Get Cozy: Settle into bed in a comfortable position, preferably on your back. Relax your entire body, including your arms, legs, and face. Take 10 deep, slow breaths, focusing solely on the rise and fall of your chest.
  2. The Gentle “Push”: Now, imagine gently pushing your brain towards the front of your head. Don’t worry, you won’t actually move your brain!
  3. Distraction is Key: While this might feel a little “strange,” the act of focusing on this imaginary movement can effectively distract you from any worries or thoughts keeping you awake.

Don’t Knock It Before You Try It:

I know it sounds bizarre, but give it a try! Don’t expect instant results, and some persistence might be needed. The goal is to divert your mind from anxieties and allow sleep to take hold.

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.

Video – How I Fall Asleep Quickly Without Medication. I talked about laying on your back during this tip but I want you to try laying on a special mat for an extra sleepy kick. I show you what I am talking about in this video.

7. The Eye Roll: My Secret Weapon Against Sleepless Nights

Okay, I admit it – I slipped this tip in at number seven, but hear me out. Rolling your eyes (with your eyelids closed, of course!) is actually my go-to technique for falling asleep quickly.

Here’s the deal: concentrating on this movement seems to trigger the release of melatonin, the sleep hormone we mentioned earlier. By making these deliberate eye rolls while lying in bed, you can almost instantly feel your body drifting towards sleepiness.

How to Do It:

  1. Get Cozy: Start by closing your eyes and actively relaxing every muscle in your body, systematically working your way up from your toes to your face.
  2. The Gentle Roll: Now, with your eyes closed, slowly roll your eyeballs upwards as if looking towards your forehead. Pay close attention to your breath and the feeling of relaxation spreading through your body. Just “pushing” your eyes upwards without actually rolling them can also be effective.

Bonus Tip: If the full roll feels uncomfortable, simply push your eyes upwards and hold for a few seconds, then release and repeat.

Remember, this might sound strange, but it’s worth a shot!

8. Purposeful Bedtime 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.

Dan stretching on wall - How to Relieve Foot and Leg Pain from Standing All Day in 6 Simple Steps-min

10. Curl Your Toes and Listen to Colored Music

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.

Whilst curling your toes, turn on some “colored” music. By this I mean pink, white, green or brown noise. This sounds like static music but has slightly different frequencies. I have added a link to one of my favorite Spotify playlists for you to try.

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.
Two bare feet in bed

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 that 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.

Related posts to read next:

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.

Individual experiences may vary and consulting a healthcare professional is recommended for personalized advice.


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.

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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