From Bat to Bird: Night Shift to Day Shift SOS

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.

Adjusting from a night shift to day shift schedule is, unfortunately, not as straightforward as flicking a switch. But we can speed up the process and help “reset” our body clocks with a few helpful hints I have learned through life as a nurse.

On your last night shift, either have a short sleep for approximately 4 hours, resisting the temptation to press snooze on your alarm. Alternatively, stay up for as long as you can, going to bed around 9 pm. When awake, stay busy, get out and enjoy the sunlight.

This post explores a step-by-step guide on how to smoothly adjust from night shift to day shift. We give you tips on what to do once you get home, when you should wake up and how to transition to a traditional schedule without feeling like you’ve just been hit by a bus. 

If you’re interested in the best tools to help you sleep, such as blue light-blocking glasses and night lights, you can find them on the Swanwick website by clicking here.Opens in a new tab.

If you prefer to watch a video rather than read a blog post we created one just for you! Check it out below.

Have a Shorter Sleep Once Your Final Night Shift Is Complete

This is my go-to method after completing my final night shift.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Set your alarm: Aim for 3-5 hours of sleep, ideally waking up no later than early afternoon. For me, this was around 1.30pm (at the latest) if I got to bed around 8.30 am.
  • Minimize distractions: Charge your phone outside your bedroom and avoid using it before getting out of bed. Activate the do-not-disturb function too.
  • Avoid snoozing: Resist the temptation to hit snooze or fall back asleep. Do not go back into bed once you’re out. I once pressed snooze (but actually turned off my alarm and didn’t wake till 6.30pm… It’s safe to say I was a complete zombie for about a week.
  • Stay active: Keep yourself busy to combat drowsiness and prevent napping.

Remember: This method requires discipline and might not work for everyone. Experiment and find what works best for your body and sleep schedule.

If you need a new alarm that just “gets you” this Philips Alarm ClockOpens in a new tab. from Amazon is great and we highly recommend it. It allows you to wake in a more natural way as the light and sounds start at a low level, gradually getting more intense.

Just as a side note, my sister, a fellow nurse, frequently sleeps till 5 pm on her last night shift and can still sleep for 9+ hours that night, going to be around 10 pm. So my above “rule” applies to most but not all.

Insider Tip: Once your alarm rings and you finally get up, make the bed. It sounds silly, but this trick mentally stopped me from getting back into bed so many times.

Once You’ve Awoken from Night

Throw open the curtains and let the sunlight flood your room! It might sting your eyes at first, but that’s a good thing. The natural light helps reset your internal clock, telling your body it’s time to wake up. Now, resist the siren song of the couch and choose one (or a few!) of these activities:

Pre-Scheduled Obligations:

Remember that pre-paid appointment you absolutely can’t miss? Hair cut? Dentist visit? Now’s the perfect time to knock it out. These commitments force you out of bed and ensure you’re productive, even after a long night shift. Treat yourself too! Schedule a massage, pedicure, or shopping trip – anything that pampers and revitalizes.

Get Moving:

Prepare for action! Lay out your workout clothes and shoes by the door. Exercise is crucial, especially in the early afternoon (after 3 pm). A moderate-intensity workout will tire you out, making sleep later much easier. Check out our post “Sleep or Workout? What Should I Do After Night Shift?” for insights. If the weather permits, exercise outside! Sunlight is a powerful tool for resetting your body clock. Explore your neighborhood, walk your dog – anything to embrace the natural light.

Conquer Your To-Do List:

Similar to pre-scheduled appointments, use this time to tackle those nagging errands. Did you put off banking, post office visits, or car washes all week? Do them now! Accomplishing these tasks gives you a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Plus, you won’t be burdened by them on your next shift.

Connect with Loved Ones:

Surround yourself with positive, uplifting people. Laughter and lighthearted conversation are crucial after a long shift. Catch up with friends and family who make you smile and avoid heavy, life-altering discussions. Remember, big decisions can wait until your sleep cycle is back on track.

Bonus Tip: Stick to a consistent sleep schedule, even on your off days. This helps regulate your body’s natural rhythm and makes transitioning back to day shifts smoother. We talk more about your days off here.

How to Quickly switch from Night Shift to Day Shift - The Other Shift - Picnic in Park Friends

Alternatively, Stay Awake All Day Once Your Final Night Shift Is Complete

Staying awake all day after your final night shift might seem tempting, but let’s be honest – it’s rarely a good idea. As much as I’d love to extol the virtues of sleep deprivation (just ask my husband Dan!), it usually leads to crankiness and a day wasted feeling like a zombie.

However, if you’re one of the superhuman individuals who swear by this method, here’s your game plan: Stay busy throughout the day using the tips we mentioned earlier. Grab an early dinner and hit the hay around 8-9 pm, aiming for 7-9 hours of sleep. The key is to keep yourself occupied, avoid lounging at home, and utilize “coffee naps” if needed.

Feeling restless and glued to the couch? We’ve got your back! Check out our recent post “Bored on Night Shift? How to Stay Busy Without the Internet” for some unique ideas to keep you energized and prevent accidental naps.

Remember, the following sections are dedicated to helping you fast-track your adjustment from night shift to day shift and reclaim your normal self, no sleep deprivation necessary!

Insider Tip…

Switching from night shift to day shift sleep can be tough in the beginning to find your groove. Be kind to yourself, listen to your body and give it what it wants.

Be Smart With Your Roster on Night Shift

Before we talk about adjusting your body again for the day shift, we need to focus for a moment on your roster.

While we can’t all control our schedules, your roster plays a crucial role in easing the shift from nights to days. Here are two strategic roster requests to consider:

1. Quick Shift: Sounds bold, but some swear by requesting a swing shift or a 5pm start right after nights (e.g., finish Friday morning and work Friday at 5pm). This can jumpstart your day adaptation, but be prepared for some caffeine-fueled adjustments! P.S. We have a handy guide for managing swing shifts, check it out here: [Link to Swing Shift Guide].

2. Grouped Nights: While some prefer single nights for family reasons, consider grouping them for improved sleep regulation. Aim for 3-4 nights in a row, which can also reduce the overall frequency of night shifts in your month.

Remember, these are just suggestions. Experiment and find what works best for you!

Talking about caffeine, sometimes it’s not always the best option but here is what to drink instead.

Re-establish or “Reset” Your Sleep Routine After Night Shift

The quicker you can “reset” your body clock, the better the transition from night shift to day shift will be. 

But the main driver to “resetting” your body clock is sleep. So the more you can get during this transition time the better. 

There are a few critical things to think about here to speed up the process. 

  • Get some sun and soak up the Vitamin D
  • Help reset your sleep cycle with blue light blocking glasses
  • Fine-tune your sleep routine and adjust the thermostat 
  • Eat healthy meals and stay hydrated

Let’s explore these in a bit more detail 

1. Embrace the Sunshine

Sunlight is a powerful sleep regulator. Aim for early morning exposure after waking, whether it’s a walk with friends, breakfast outdoors, or simply enjoying the view from your balcony. This boosts Vitamin D, essential for healthy bones and mood, and helps shake off the “night shift blues.” Remember, we’re aiming to wake up your circadian rhythm, not hinder it like with regular sleep schedules.

If you’re stressed about the sun and getting burnt, we talk all things skin here and recommend our favorite products.

2. Block Blue Light Before Bed

When winding down, shield your eyes with blue light blocking glasses. These glasses reduce screen glare, alleviate headaches, and help your body produce sleep hormones, making it easier to adjust to the day shift schedule. We recommend Swanwick Sleep glasses and can’t speak highly enough of their effectiveness.

They are a little more expensive then some other brands you see online but in my opinion, they are the very best as they block out the most blue light out of anyone on the market. We are pretty passionate about these glasses and have written a bunch of different posts to help you.

Here is a couple you can browse through with a coffee in hand:

3. Fine-tune Your Sleep Routine

Establish a consistent wake-up time, even on weekends, to regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Embrace your favorite sleep aids and adjust your thermostat to a cooler temperature at night for better sleep quality. For more information about this, check out this post.

Going to bed around the same time and “winding down” with the same behaviors will help link those things to sleep, making the transition between night shift and day shift quicker.

4. Nourish Yourself

Eat healthy meals throughout the day, focusing on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Stay hydrated with water to avoid dehydration, which can disrupt sleep.

Take care with Melatonin despite what your friends may recommend. When necessary we use 3-5mg tablets only and this is enough for us before the groggy feelings set in. We talk about in this blog post specifically talking about sleep supplements.

Finally, avoided caffeinated beverages before bed, opting for herbal teas instead. Peppermint tea is a fantastic post-meal choice for aiding digestion and promoting relaxation. Learn more about the benefits of herbal teas in our guide, “7 Essential Night Shift Tips: Making the Impossible a Reality.”

If you can’t sleep after an hour, stop stressing over the time your wasting and instead get up and do something for 15 minutes (wearing your blue light blocking glasses). You’ll be surprised how reading or folding clothes puts you in a state of unconsciousness.

This video explains my point here in more detail.

5. Finding Harmony with Your Partner on Night Shifts

Night shifts can throw your sleep schedule out of whack, but achieving peaceful slumber alongside your partner is still possible! Here are some tips to find harmony despite your opposing schedules:

1. Dim the Lights: Replace harsh bedside lamps with amber reading lights attached to your books. These emit a gentler glow, calming your eyes and minimizing disruption to your partner’s sleep. Explore our comparison of the best amber reading lights on Amazon to find the perfect one!

2. Unwind with Music: Soothe yourself to sleep, and hopefully your partner too, with calming music. We’ve compiled a playlist of relaxing tunes on Spotify that have been a personal game-changer, despite initial skepticism. Lately, I’ve been finding green noise particularly effective, but feel free to experiment with different sounds to find what works best for you.

We wrote a whole post here about these relaxing tunes and have personally benefited from this method despite how weird it felt in the beginning.

By implementing these simple strategies, you can create a sleep environment conducive to both your needs, fostering harmony and restful nights even with your contrasting schedules. Remember, communication and open-mindedness are key to navigating this unique situation!

If you know your partner misses you terribly when you’re away, we wrote a few posts which can help. Feel free to share them.

How to Quickly switch from Night Shift to Day Shift - The Other Shift - Man Drinking tea in bed


Switching from night shift to day shift sleep is not for the faint-hearted. But for those working a rotating roster, it’s a staple part of the working routine. Pulling yourself out of bed and obeying your annoying alarm is tough, but it’s not impossible.

Take the time to really look after yourself by getting out of the house and exercising, catching up with friends in the sun and eating a healthy diet. Every little bit counts!


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.

Struggling to Switch from Night Shift to Day Shift - Man funny face - The Other Shift
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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.

8 thoughts on “From Bat to Bird: Night Shift to Day Shift SOS

  1. Hi! I just recently switched from working 3rd shift nights to working 2nd shift. I work in a factory and use my hands a lot. I’m doing the same job, but I noticed my hands hurt more now than they did when I was working nights. Any insight into why that might be?

    1. Hi Sheila,
      Thank you for taking the time to connect with us. Sorry to hear about your hands. We couldn’t see a reason why the type of shift you work would impact your pain, so our suggestion would be to speak with a health professional who should be able to point you in the right direction.
      Good luck with having this resolved as quickly as possible.

  2. I work a rotating shift 7 days – 7 off- 7 nights- 7 off. It is an absolute struggle coming off nights. I will literally accomplish nothing the entire 7 days off because either I’m exhuasted from getting no sleep or I can’t get out of bed till 3 or 4pm. I live a very active lifestyle being in the gym 2 hours a day and racing motocross and enduro. I eat as healthy as I can assume through research and coaches. I have not found a solution to switching over. I’ve tried staying up all day the first day off and I find I’m just a useless zombie the whole day. I’ll get a good sleep that night, but the second day off I’ll go to bed at 11pm and always wake up at 1 or 2am and then just lay there with my eyes closed for 5 or 6 hours before falling back asleep. Then I wake up at 2pm and I’m right back where I started. This will perpetuate all the way through till I start my first day shift again, where I will 9 times out of 10 go back to work day shifts on ZERO sleep. I’m a bit of a basket case with regards to sleep so I will definitely be trying the suggestions here, thank you for taking the time to put this together.

    1. Hey Andrew, thanks for your comment and giving us an insight into your personal situation. Have you tried not switching back at all? It could be worth staying up till around 3 am and sleeping till midday the following day? You obviously cannot train in the mornings but you can still enjoy 8+ hours of the daylight. Do you wear blue light blocking glasses? They have honestly saved our butt and worth looking into if you’re on the fence. Cheers, Em.

  3. So emma..after the last night shift and taking a “short sleep” should a person get some bright light exposure first thing upon awakening to reset the body clock ?

    1. Hi Jay. Yes. Crack open the binds, stick on some activewear and take a walk/run outside. Our body clock is dependent on the light to signal what’s happening and what it should be doing. Getting adequate sunlight exposure after your last night shift can help your body clock figure out what it is supposed to do, giving you a greater chance of sleeping that night and not being a zombie the following day. Cheers. Emma

  4. I work the 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. shift for almost eight years. I no longer do this and I’m trying to work a regular day shift job. I have not worked for three weeks and are currently enjoying the time off. But I sure hope I can get used to the day shift and look forward to the new schedule. Good luck everyone. Thank you for your advice.

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