From Night Owl to Early Bird: Transitioning After 20 Years

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Switching your days and nights around might be easy in your twenties, simply pull an all-nighter and crash. Problem solved. If you’ve been on midnights for ten or more years though, the adjustment can be difficult. Thankfully, however, it is not impossible. Let us help you transition from a midnight ghoul to a full-fledged member of society again.

Ditching the blackout curtains, drinking more water than usual, enjoying black coffee, applying sunscreen, paying attention to food timing, embracing some supplements, and using essentials can help you transition back to being awake during the day. Be patient and kind to yourself as it can take time.

So, prepare for me to welcome you back into the sunlight with as little consternation as possible, and by the end of this article, you will no longer refer to the sun as “The Terror Sphere” and hiss when it rises each morning.

Where to Start When Transitioning Back to a Traditional Schedule

Getting over the feelings of jetlag will be your biggest snag. This delightful condition happens when your circadian rhythms are upset, usually by crossing time zones, or in your case, having a new work schedule.

Circadian rhythms, by the way, is a fancy term for sleep pattern. So let’s get you sorted out.

First off, know that you’re in for a variety of very real physical symptoms which I have listed below. Some may linger for a while while others will be more fleeting.

(The hyperlinks above link to other articles we have written about these topics if you’re keen to learn more)

All these delightful little bonuses affect travelers each year as they try to acclimate to their new time zone. Unfortunately, this will mirror your switchover back to the day shift as well.

While not life-threatening, they can certainly make life uncomfortable for you and your loved ones. Thankfully there are ways to adjust relatively easily and quickly to your body’s little rebellion.

Here is a list of tangible ideas/projects/suggestions you could adopt to overcome these feelings of jetlag to start feeling like your old self again.

1. Ditch the Black Out Curtains

The first thing you will probably need to do is ditch the blackout blinds. More than likely, you had to make certain adjustments to your home décor to keep out the sun and sound of the daytime. As this has no doubt made you look Adams Family-ish, maybe it’s time to go ahead and go for a less Transylvanian look. 

Unbelievably, in not much time, you will enjoy the sunlight and birds. You will no longer seriously consider throwing rocks at the chirping menaces, in point of fact, you won’t be referring to them as menaces at all.

So where to begin? As soon as you wake up in the morning, open the blinds and let the sunlight in. Though mooching in bed is nice sometimes, letting in the light will do great things for your mood.

2. Drink More Water Than You Currently Do

While this may sound obvious, cold water (surprisingly not vodka,) can go a long way to helping you relax, settle an upset stomach, and balance your metabolism. Adjusting to a new schedule can be taxing on your hormone levels, and remembering to stay hydrated is one of the things likely to slip your mind.

The BEAST tumbler helps stay hydrated. It’s big and a bit bulky but your drink stays the temperature you need it to be. It even fits in the cup holder of most cars.

Interestingly, you may find your weight fluctuates as well due to a change in routine and cravings. A tip here is if you start to feel hungry, drink water instead. Dehydration is often mistaken for hunger, causing us to eat when we really don’t need to leading to weight gain.

BEAST tumbler review

3. Enjoy Caffeine (But Not Before Bed)

Correct! The lifeblood that helped you become a blue-collar Dracula in the first place can itself be the holy water that burns that evil right back out of you.

At first, your body will respond to the sun, cloudy skies, and little squirrels with the desire to lock yourself away in the back of your house with a healthy scorn for all creatures that flyeth by noonday. Well, you’re one those creatures now (please don’t go on your roof and try the “flyeth” thing.)

So, for the first week or so, you might need an extra cup of coffee to help you maintain your new, sunburn-prone life. But just be mindful of its effects on sleep as it can stay in our systems for up to 10 hours. (Maybe no coffee after 12 pm?)

We’ve written a few posts about caffeine here. One is for night shift workers which you may not require anymore but may still find interesting and the other is all about beverages which can give you a boost when in a slump.

I also stumbled across a great podcast about coffee this week which I found very interesting, particularly its links to gut health and boosting our immune system. Here is a link for those interested.

We’ve also started drinking Sneak Energy drinks which I’ve pictured here. It’s individual sachets of powder which you can add to the liquid of your choice (water works best for us at the moment). Some are full of caffeine whilst others are caffeine-free which is great for hydration. There are an insane amount of flavours which I am still working through but so far so good. Take a look at Sneak Energy here. It’s not full of sugar like most of the other energy drinks on the market which is why we are attracted to it.

4. Clean Your Room

No, this isn’t an existential concept about keeping your life uncluttered. I literally mean keep your sleep space uncluttered. Hell, light a candle and burn some incense. You are going to want your bedroom (hopefully you have a bedroom, if it’s the backseat of a Buick, well then get a new air freshener buddy, it’ll get better,) to be comfortable and inviting.

You’ll be surprised how easy it’s going to be to adjust to a new schedule if you make it so. Here is how you can create your own oasis.

We love Swanwick products for this. They have blue light globes, diffusers, lavender oil and linen spray to make this process simple. Check it all out here on the Swanwick website.

5. Think About Food Timing

You may start to notice your digestive system goes a little haywire for some time. Despite what you may be feeling right now, your guts do prefer it this way – eating food when the sun is shining and giving it a break overnight.

Go easy in the beginning here and try not to eat too late at night, even though this will be your natural tendency. Be on alert as to which foods may sit differently than they did before. Staying hydrated and not consuming too heavy meals at night will help here.

Writing down what you eat and how you feel for a week or two may be handy to see what sits well and what doesn’t.

We’ve written a whole range of articles about diets, recipes and foods. One of my favorites is this one which talks all about snacks. Though you’re not working nights anymore, these ideas will still be relevant to you.

As an extra tip here, we like to drink SuperGreen TONIK, which has been rebranded recently to Human Tonik. It’s a green power (they have red too) which helps me sleep, remain productive and keep my skin clear. If my diet has been pretty average or I simply don’t think I’ve eaten enough healthy stuff, this really helps fill those gaps. It’s not a dietary replacement but more so a drink to complement it.

If you’re keen to try it, use “OTHERSHIFT2024” at checkout for a 10% discount.

6. Chemical Warfare

Okay, you drank more water than Jaws, you are more caffeinated than the 10th Armored Cavalry, and your room technically qualifies as museum-grade in its cleanliness. It’s also midnight and you’re staring at the ceiling muttering not-so-nice words at the author of this article. 

Well, my friend, time to step up your game. Let’s get some pharmacy-grade solutions in that old bloodstream. 

First off, start easy. Supplements are out there that have little to no real side effects. Melatonin, CBD oil, and over-the-counter sleep aids exist relatively cheaply. Many of these won’t affect you like a bottle of Scotch and a BB King album, but that’s okay, you want to take the edge off, not cry yourself to sleep blubbering about a woman named Lucille (I know that was his guitar and not a woman, but stay with me here, I’m educating you.) You are looking for natural sleep and adjustment, so just a little help may be all you need. 

If you’ve never used melatonin before, here are my tips. As for supplements, we love Magnesium and this is why.

We are also experimenting with this sleep aid at the moment from NooCube. Though the actual pill has a bit of a not-so-nice taste, the effects are pretty good so far. If you want to read more and give it a go yourself to get better sleep, click here.

Unless of course, you need more…

Anxiety and depression medications are also plentiful and abundant. While they should not be used as a first response, they may be in order if you just can’t get used to adjusting. This will of course require a doctor’s prescription, so consulting with a medical provider will be necessary. Lucky for you, you get to do that now, since you aren’t in your coffin, I mean bed, all day anymore. 

Still, chances are you will not need this level of medication. The simple truth is that most folks adjust pretty easily. Just know that this is another remedy in the toolbox in case you need it.

7. Embrace the Silence

Why is it so quiet?!

As strange as it sounds, one of the hardest things to get used to when sleeping at night is the silence. This is to be expected, as for years you have slept while the world was up and atom (or at them? Adam? Whatever. Moving around.) This can make it hard for you at first to embrace the silence that only midnight can give (or hearing loss, in which case you can skip this part.)

So how do you overcome the uncomfortable silence? Since this isn’t Christmas with that spooky relative who makes everyone uncomfortable, you can actively combat the silence (you can combat relatives as well, but that involves a shovel, a tarp, and a long weekend.)

8. Try White Noise

White Noise Machines are a thing. I know the prospect of spending money on some chunk of plastic that makes a static sound seem the behavior of a madman, many find them to be relaxing and helpful.

If these fail, others use music, podcasts, audiobooks, or talk radio. Try not to listen to anything too engaging, however, or you’ll be defeating the purpose because you’ll be trying to stay awake to listen. Incidentally, many people use old movies for this very reason. You won’t exactly be biting your nails on your twelfth viewing of Aliens.

Others also find the Calm app very helpful.

9. Use Essential Oils

Essential Oils can offer you some help as well. Yes, it sounds questionable, but essential oil diffusers or any aromatherapy options can really help you relax. Try for a scent that relaxes you though, let’s skip the ones that smell like cookies or pies, you really don’t want to be hunched over baked goods at three in the morning.

This pack from Amazon is really popular and a great value for money if you’re keen to tip your toes in.

10. Think About Temperature When You Get into Bed

Temperature adjustments can help you immediately. Turn the thermostat down a few degrees and you’ll see that huddling up with a blanket is vastly preferable to laying in a pool of sweat, angrily fuming that you cannot sleep. It’s a snowball effect, you see.

The more you can’t sleep, the angrier you get. The angrier you get, the more you can’t sleep. Want to know what really gets the anger juices flowing? Your juices. Specifically, your body’s cooling system (that just seems to make you feel swampy, as opposed to really cooling anything.)

So, if it’s summer, chip in a few extra bucks on the air conditioning (such as the popular unit pictured below). If it’s winter, well then Rockefeller, count the pennies you’ll save by not firing up the furnace so often. Your body, and your now dry sheets, will thank you.

11. Avoid fluids

Correct, I know earlier I said to hydrate but stop drinking about three hours before bed. This is because the last thing you want to do when you finally get comfortable is make a run to the latrine (that’s a French term for bathroom that the military likes.) It goes without saying (but I’ll say it, because I’m verbose,) you should avoid caffeine during this period as well. No food either, as heartburn isn’t exactly known for its relaxing effects.

12. Sun Exposure – Vitamin D

According to Harvard, they agree with our earlier comments about sun exposure and getting out. Which is reassuring for me. We need the sun to help the body absorb and retain calcium and phosphorus; both are critical for building bone. Just be careful about getting burnt…

Whilst sitting out in the sunshine, do you fancy a cup of tea? We love Pique tea. Refreshing and delicious but not your stock standard tea. The creators have embraced science to give you the best, healthy experience in each cup. Read more about Pique tea here.

Any Final Words of Wisdom?

The reality is that your body wants to sleep at night. You aren’t some Victorian-Era ghost, creeping along a boarding school, helping teenagers solve mysteries, you’re a person. So, steer into the skid on this one. Trust your body and nine times out of ten it’ll work itself out pretty well. As said in the introduction, if you can, sometimes just stay awake a few extra hours will be sufficient to help you sleep that night. Yeah, you’ll be tired and feel out of step for a day or two, but you’re beginning an exciting new chapter in your life. 

So, embark on an exciting new adventure! One of rush hour traffic jams, sunscreen, grocery shopping with people not in bathrobes, talking to an imaginary parrot, and much more. 

Know that your time among the ancient order of Graveyard Shift Workers has come to an end. Be wary, however, we are an unforgiving lot, prone to irrational grudges. As such, you are hereby forever branded “Daywalker” and shall be viewed forever with suspicion and contempt.

In all seriousness, with just a little patience and even less effort, you will do just fine in your new routine. 

Just let it happen and you’ll be all the better off for it.


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.

Women looking tired and touching facwe

Daniel Smith

Managing a global sales team I've experienced the challenges of working at all hours of the day and night. Being a shift worker I know how tough it can be balancing everyday life when you feel like you haven't slept in weeks! Providing advice and tips on how to manage your schedule, whilst still staying healthy is where I can help.

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