Best Sleep Aids For Night Shift Workers

best sleep aids

If you have been taking more night shifts than usual, here’s the bad news.

Shift Work Sleep Disorder is real and it can cause awful consequences at work.

You’ll be more likely to commit errors while caring for your patients. You’ll be more irritable and you’ll have poor coping skills.

And you know what’s worse?

This disorder can lead to alcohol and drug dependency.

Scary, right?

The good news is that Shift Work Sleep Disorder can be avoided and the solution is simple:


Now, as a busy nurse working in a busy area that doesn’t have enough personnel, that can be tricky. So, to help you deal with and avoid SWSD, here are some of the most effective and best sleep aids you can use.

The Right Mattress

right mattress sleep aids

If your back pain is making it difficult for you to get some rest, one of the first things you need to check is your mattress. After all, it’s literally where you sleep so it needs to be comfortable.

Sagging, squeaking and creaking are sure signs that you need a new mattress. If it’s more than 8 years old, it’s also a sign that you need to consider getting a replacement.

Now, before you actually head out and buy a new one, it’s important that you know exactly what to look for. Know your frequent sleeping position, sleeping habits and budget before you choose. You can also read reviews of mattresses for back pain so you’ll know which brands to keep an eye out for.

The Right Pillows

the right pillows best sleep aids

Like your mattress, your pillows can greatly affect your sleep, too. If they are hard or they don’t match your dominant sleeping position, you can end up with arm numbness, headache and neck pain.

Surprisingly, finding the right pillow for you can require trial-and-error. One good reason is that your neck actually takes around 10 to 15 minutes before it can relax onto the pillow. This means that a simple squeeze at the store won’t tell you that much.

Dark curtains

dark curtains best sleep aids

Exposure to light on your way home can activate your body’s daytime clock. This can make it hard for you to get to sleep once you’re in bed.

One way you can solve this is by investing in a good blackout curtain. It’s an opaque, foam-backed fabric that can black out much of the light that can pass through your windows. It can also help you save on energy by trapping heat during the colder season and keeping the heat out during the warmer months- perfect for making your room more comfortable to rest in.

Sleep mask

sleep mask best sleep aids

In case getting and fitting blackout curtains in your room don’t fit your budget or your schedule, you can just get a sleep mask. It’s affordable and you can practically buy it from a lot of stores.

But, here’s the thing:

Not all sleep masks are the same.

There are sleep masks that work better for side sleepers than those who sleep on their back. Some sleep masks can block out more light than others.

If you just want to prevent some level of unwanted light to creep in, go with a sleep mask that can block as much as 98% of light. However, if you’ll be sleeping in a very bright room, choose one with 99% to 100% light-blocking capability.

In addition to that, you also have to pay close attention to a sleep mask’s material. Natural cotton can provide supreme comfort. Soft satin is also nice as it can help you relax and sleep faster.

Essential oils

essential oils

For a natural and non-toxic solution to fix your sleeping issues, why not try essential oils?

These oils can promote a restful night’s sleep as long as you’re able to find the right ones. You can use them with your diffuser or you can dilute them with the right carrier oil before massaging on your skin. You can even add them to your lotions and creams

Now, you’re probably wondering: What are the best essential oils for sleep?

You actually have a lot of options but your best choices are these:

  • Roman chamomile
  • Lavender
  • Cedarwood
  • Clary sage
  • Valerian

White noise app

white noise app best sleep aid
Via androidauthority

The idea might sound bizarre but a good white noise app can change your life. You can finally drown out those annoying sounds that are ruining your sleep.


Well, you can simply think of a white noise app as a form of anti-noise. It’s something that distracts your brain as it dampens other sounds, like people talking outside your room, the whirring of a fan or your partner’s snoring.

Now, here’s a tip:

If you are the type of person who easily wakes in the middle of your sleep, skip the app and go with a device that can keep working for several hours. Most timed apps can stop working after an hour and if you wake up by that time, you’ll find it hard to doze off again.


ear plugs best sleep aids

If white noise apps don’t work for you, an inexpensive alternative is to wear a pair of earplugs. They can block out noise if they can fit perfectly to your ears.

However, there’s a catch.

Ear plugs can mostly block air-transmitted sounds and may have limited effect to vibration sounds.

See Also: 8 Easy Tips On How Nurses Can Recover From Night Shifts


Getting a good sleep when you have an inconsistent work schedule can be tough but it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. With a bit of trial-and-error and discipline, you’ll be able to find the best sleep aids that will work for you.

A word of caution:

Although it’s tempting to find a quick fix to solve your sleeping issues, avoid it as much as possible. Taking a pill to help you to get to sleep faster and longer can only leave you dependent on it. Plus, such quick fixes can be detrimental to your health in the long run.

So stay on the safe side and pay close attention to what your body really needs to rest. Remember, not all sleep aids for night shift workers can work for you.

See Also: 25 Night Shift Memes For Nurses



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