What Do I Need for Working Night Shift? 13 Essential Tools

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Trying to work the night shift without your “tool kit” is like going into battle without armor (or working a shift without coffee for some…). You’re doomed to fail before you’ve even begun!

Bed with coffee and pastry| What Do I Need for Working Night Shift? 13 Essential Tools

In the past, I have been underprepared for the night shift and I swore I wouldn’t do it again. I was left exhausted, fatigued and feeling nothing like myself. So I wanted to create a post for those feeling the same way and give you tools that not only make a HUGE difference in my shift working life but also in others I work with.

Previously we wrote a post titled 10 Must-Have Night Shift Sleep Aids for a Heavenly Sleep which we encourage you to check out too. But this post will dive into more than just sleeping on night shift.

1. “Too Tired To Cook” Book

Why it’s essential:ALL SHIFT WORKERS NEED THIS BOOK! It’s a comprehensive guide to surviving shift work from an author, Audry Starkey, who is a veteran shift worker and clinical nutritionist. It’s intriguing and relatable advice from someone who’s “been there.”
What we love:Diet tips, sleeping advice, shift work lifestyle management, plus so much more. The passion from Audra makes you want to enact positive changes to your shift work health. She gives you the reasons why particular changes are important instead of just listing what you should do.
What’s annoying:Nothing. It’s brilliant.
Where to buy:Amazon – Too Tired to Cook: The Shift Worker’s Guide to Working (and Surviving) in a 24/7 World Opens in a new tab.

2. Blue Light Blocking Glass

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

Why it’s essential:After a night shift, we need time to wind down right? We usually scroll our phones, watch TV or even read a book. But this artificial light shining from our devices and lights is keeping your sleep hormone, Melatonin, from doing its job. These glasses allow you to still do the things you enjoy, whilst blocking out this blue light and allowing for melatonin to be produced. Brilliant.
What we love:They work! “Swannies” as they are marketed, are high-quality glasses made with sturdy hinges and stylish frames. Plus, they come in a range of different styles and colors. PrescriptionKidsDay SwanniesSleep Hyponotherapy. Ear Plugs.
What’s annoying:I was surprised at how strong the orange in the lens is and how it affects colors on the TV and other devices, but after a few nights, it just became the new normal. I now don’t have any issues at all unless I am doing a task requiring color differentiation. They also cost a little more than some other brands but you get what you pay for – these block out more blue light – 99% perfect in fact 🙂 Plus, they are MUCH cheaper than sleeping pills in the long run.
Brand:Swanwick Sleep
Why this brand?The reviews Opens in a new tab.are insanely good and in my experience, they actually care about the customer. They have also created “bundles” which I think are great gift ideas, particularly for a fellow shift worker.
Where to buy:Swanwick Sleep Website – “Swannies” Blue light blocking glasses

Related posts about blue light blocking glasses

3. SuperGreen TONIK (Green Juice)

Why it’s essential:Do you eat enough fruits and veggies on night shift to stay healthy and focused? I know I sometimes miss the mark and end up feeling pretty lousy. This green juice is NOT a meal replacement, rather it helps “fill the gaps” from what I missed in my diet. If you can’t be bothered cutting fruits and veggies to make a smoothie while on nights- this is for you.
Brand of green juice:SuperGreen TONIK.
What we love:SuperGreen TONIK makes you feel great and helps keep your digestive system moving (particularly if doing a workout on night shift didn’t happen). Plus, the green juice has a slight minty flavour too it – a big bonus for a mint fan. I can actually just sip on this juice with water without needing to close my eyes and squeeze my nose!
What’s annoying:Nothing. It’s now a permanent part of my diet.
Why this brand?Dan and I have tried other green juices in the past who make big claims about detox and energy boosts but don’t back it up. Plus, the number of ingredients and quantity is either hidden or the product tastes horrible. SuperGreen TONIK gets big ticks for both transparency and taste.
Where to buy:It is only available via their website SuperGreen Tonik but they ship worldwide. FREE shipping within the US. See our review for 10% Discount code – here.

4. Tumbler

Beast tumbler | Night Shift Essentials post
Why it’s essential:Caffeine and cold water are essential for any shift worker, right?
Brand of tumbler:GreensSteel – BEAST
What we love:The BEAST keeps your drinks hot (or cold) for up to 8-10 hours. It can go in the dishwasher, is double-wall insulated so it doesn’t “sweat” and despite being big (30 oz is the larger one pictured) it still fits in the cup holder in your car.
What’s annoying:You cannot just throw this tumbler in your bag and not expect it to spill. The lid is only “splash proof” not “spill-proof.” But if you are looking for something like this try this tumbler on Amazon instead.
Why this brand?As you can see in the image, the packaging and what’s included in purchasing the tumbler is impressive. It comes with a lifetime warranty (which is VERY rare), is dishwasher safe and is made from tough stainless steel. It comes with clear instructions on how to clean the lid, which was added after customers voiced they didn’t know how. For these reasons, I choose the beast every time.
Where to buy:Amazon – BEAST Stainless Steel TumblerOpens in a new tab.. Not convinced? See our video review here or watch it below.

5. Insulated Backpack/Lunch Box

Why it’s essential:Possibly the coolest , most well thought out bag I’ve seen! I seem to bring a lot of “stuff” to night shift. My lunch/dinner/snacks, phone charger, drink bottles, sometimes my laptop, clothes etc. But I hate carrying more than one bag, especially if I’m ridding my bike. This bag is innovative and takes care of everything.
Brand of bag:Slotra
What we love:Holds a 17-inch laptop (or smaller), has a USB Port, separated compartment, lockable zip in the main compartment, is tear-resistant, water-resistant, has a handy lunchbox holder, large zipper pull tags and lots of hidden pockets. Watch the video here to see for yourself.
What’s annoying:When you pull out the lunch box the items on the top fall down. But if you place the bag on the side when removing the lunch box, it’s not an issue.
Where to buy:Amazon – Slotra Backpack with Lunch Box Opens in a new tab.

6. Soup Container

Why it’s essential:Soup (or any liquid-based meals) are excellent night shift meals. They are hydrating, super healthy and warm. But transporting soup can be an issue for spilling and why a specific container is essential.
Brand of container:Thermos is my go-to for transporting liquid because they simply don’t leak and are made well to stand the test of time. Sistema products have been used in my family for years so I know the quality is top-notch.
What we love:Screw top lips. I just don’t trust the clip or press lid when transport liquid.
What’s annoying:When using a Thermos the weight could be an issue. If you only have a short commute to work this most likely won’t be a problem, but if you’re riding your bike the weight could be tiresome.
Where to buy:Amazon – Sistema Ultra Collection Round Food Storage ContainerOpens in a new tab. OR Thermos Stainless King Food Jar with Folding SpoonOpens in a new tab.

Related posts about food and meal planning for shift workers:

7. Microwavable Heat Pack

Why it’s essential:I often experience achy shoulders, hips and back when working nights. Is it due to prolonged time on my feet with little breaks? Maybe. But coming home to a microwavable heat pack on my shoulders (thanks Dan!) while eating breakfast is utter bliss for pain relief and comfort. Plus, it helps warm the bed nicely when you’re on your own too.
Brand:The cozy one pictured is from HP solutions at Amazon but to be honest any heat pack you can repetitively microwave will work.
What we love:The HP heat pack pictured is pretty darn great. It’s therapeutically designed to distribute heat evenly, is filled with rice and flax-seed and has two straps that help with positioning. The outer covering is soft and super comforting. This suggestion seems basic, but after night shift it can be a welcomed addition to a cold bed and sore bits.
What’s annoying:It stays hot for around 15-20 minutes which may not be enough time for some. They can also burn and get dirty, so avoid this by placing it on a dry plate inside the microwave and limit heating to around 2-3 minutes at one time.
Why this brand?They offer a 1-year warranty. I like the quality of the product and you can either get scented or unscented depending on preference.
Where to buy:Amazon – Buddy Hot/Cold Aromatherapy Pack (Lavender)Opens in a new tab.

Related post to adjusting to night shift:

8. Bed Socks

Why it’s essential:Did you know wearing socks to bed can actually help you fall asleep quicker? (source) I am usually not a fan of wearing socks to bed but the right socks can work wonders!
What we love:It feels like you’ve got clouds on your feet. Made from polyester (coral fleece/coral velvet) and premium microfiber. They are loose-fitting so you forget you’re even wearing them while heating your feet to the optimal temperature for sleep. Some even have grips so you don’t fall over whilst stumbling to the toilet.
What’s annoying:Soft but low quality. If you want to pay a bit more for a better pair, try these on Amazon.
Where to buy:Amazon

Related post:

9. Diffuser

Why it’s essential:Aromatherapy has been proven to assist with sleep and relaxation, (source) and no, this type of product is not just for those who like alternative therapies. You can simply like and benefit from the smell.
Brand:doTERRA – Petal Diffuser
What we love:It’s quite, looks good and sends the aroma around the entire room rather than just in one corner like other diffusers.
What’s annoying:It’s on the pricer side. If you’re on a budget check out this diffuser. It’s not the cheapest of the bunch, as I’ve found they break easily, but’s it’s still affordable and does the trick.
Why this brand?Reputable brand. I’ve been using their oils for years and I’m continually impressed.
Where to buy:Amazon – doTERRA – Petal Diffuser
Note:If you like smells, try other oils, lotions and soaps to help create a positive headspace. I found this affordable six-pack of oilsOpens in a new tab. if you want to try a few different ones out.

Related post to aromatherapy

10. Eye Mask

Why it’s essential:Our brain struggles to fall asleep when it detects light because Melatonin, our sleep hormone, cannot be produced in these conditions. An effective eye mask will take away this issue allowing you to fall asleep naturally in darkness.
Brand:Swanwick Sleep (What Dan is wearing) / Manta Sleep (What I’m wearing)
Why this brand?Reputable brands. Incredible customer service. We have previously bought products from both companies and really loved them.
What we love:Swanwick Sleep Eye Mask: t’s made from silk which is super soft even on sensitive skin. It comes in two colors (as pictured above), one comfortable strap and is oversized, designed for a full blackout.
Manta: Eye holes so your eye lashes are not “squished.” 100% block out.
What’s annoying:Swanwick: No eye holes. This is why we love the Manta one too.
Where to buy:Swanwick Sleep Website – Silk eye mask / Manta Eye Mask – Here

Related posts about eye masks:

In other blogs we discussed the importance of blocking out your bedroom with the blackout blinds/curtains. You can find our recommended black out blinds via our shift work tools page here.

11. Fan

Why it’s essential:The optimal temperature to sleep is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. (source) Anything outside this range can lead to sleep disturbance making for a terrible upcoming shift. Plus wild dreams! What, just me?
Brand:Lasko or an already installed roof fan.
Why this brand?Reputable American made company who produce quality products with lots of different options.
What we love:Airflow on my face while under a warm blanket helps me sleep on nights. I personally like the “humming” sounds as it drowns out the world outside acting like a white noise machineOpens in a new tab.. But I hate “clicking” which I haven’t experienced with the Lasko. The Lasko has multiple settings, a slick design and is light weight. It’s a yes from me.
What’s annoying:Depending on your space and desired levels of noise, this larger fan could be annoying. If you want something smaller on the quieter side of life, check out this one Opens in a new tab.from Amazon.
Where to buy:Amazon: Lasko T42954 Wind Curve Portable Electric Tower FanOpens in a new tab.

12. Ear Plugs

Why it’s essential:Earplugs may not be necessary every shift, but when the neighbor starts mowing their lawn, you want to be ready!
Why this brand?I first tried them after reading the Amazon reviews and have never been disappointed. I find others easily lose their shape falling out of my ears, but never with Macks.
What we love:You get 50 pairs in each pack. They fit well and don’t fall out throughout the day while you’re trying to sleep. The brown color makes them handy to wear in public if you secretly need quiet noises.
What’s annoying:If you have small ear canals these might be too big. Go with these instead if that sounds like an issue you could have.
Where to buy:Amazon – Mack’s Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs

13. Peppermint Tea

Twinings Pure Peppermint Tea  | Night Shift Essentials
Why it’s essential:Night shift nausea and bloating can be brutal. Peppermint tea, personally, really helps ease this discomfort after my break.
Brand:Twinnings or T2 are my favorites due to taste and how it makes me feel
What we love:In the Twinnings box pictured, you get 50 tea bags for a great price. Running out on nights is not something I ever want.
What’s annoying:Sometimes I crave loose leaf because the tea bag is too strong or I simply want a different flavor. For those times I use T2 loose-leaf peppermint tea here.
Where to buy:Amazon – Twinings Pure Peppermint TeaOpens in a new tab.

Keep reading…

In summary; Working the night shift can seem like a daunting, isolating process, but you’re not alone!

With a few “extra” tools to help you get through the workday, you’ll most likely never truly love night shift, but you’ll enjoy the experience plenty more than not having them.

If you’re looking for resources and tools more so for gift ideas, here are 25 items we would love to receive as shift workers!

Good luck.


Emma signature | theothershift.com

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.

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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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