You know your next shift is only 7
hours away and you should go to bed. But you’ve just finished a
fantastic episode from your favorite series and you’re geed up! You now
feel like hitting the town, rather than sleeping.
Stop staring at the clock, rolling around in bed getting frustrated.
Throughout this post we dive into 16 epic sleep tips to help you fall
asleep quickly – even when it feels impossible.
1. Block out the Blue Light With Blue Light Blocking Glasses
Who ‘winds down’ after a busy late/night shift by looking at their
phone, laptop computers or watching the next episode of their Netflix
We do! I often don’t want to talk for a while once I get home from a
busy 2nd shift in the ER and instead turn to mind-numbing but thoroughly
enjoyable TV shows like Sex and the City re-runs.
So, what’s the problem? Blue light my friends…
We speak about this a lot because research has shown that it keeps our
sleep hormones such as melatonin from doing their thing. Ekkk!
The easiest way we have controlled this particularly hazardous stream of
light (at night) is to wear Swanwick Sleep – ‘Swannies‘.
They block out 99% of the blue light which far exceeds any other blue light blocking glasses we could find on Amazon.
Dan and I simply slide them on about 90 minutes before we plan to sleep
(regardless of what shift we’re on) and the effects are incredible!
Fall to sleep quicker, stay asleep all night and don’t wake up feeling groggy!
We highly recommend checking out the Swanwick Sleep website here and getting your very own pair of Swannies!
Or have a read of our shift work tools page here for more information
and some great video explaining what blue light blockers do in more
2. Listen to Soft Tunes
“Music is food for the soul”
Music can be so incredibly powerful in helping us fall to sleep even when we’re not tired.
It has a direct effect on the parasympathetic nervous system, which
helps your body relax and prepare for sleep. It can even be used to
improve chronic sleep disorders like insomnia!
We recently published a post about the most relaxing tunes to help you sleep.
It has a bunch of video and playlist examples for you to try out. See our sleep music post here.
3. Put on Your Yoga Tights
Yoga has been proven to decrease stress and tension by encouraging the practice of calm and deep breathing patterns.
My personal favorite way to practice yoga on the cheap is streaming it
via YouTube to my TV through my Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote.
(Available via Amazon.com)
My go-to channel is ‘Yoga with Adrienne’ and it’s what I recommend. She’s beautifully calm, educational and easy to follow.
Here is a great relaxing video to help you wind down and feel tired before bed.
If you don’t experience negative effects with vigorous exercise shortly
before bed, this could be the perfect solution to sleep as you’ll have
tired yourself out.
We do recommend working out after a night shift if you don’t have time in the afternoon or during your shift.
You can check out the post we wrote about this specific topic titled,
Sleep or Workout? What Should I Do After Night Shift? for more
information and helpful tips.
4. Use Lavender and Aromatherapy
Lavender is more than a pretty flower!
It’s a powerful essential oil that has shown to improve symptoms of
PTSD, support brain function, reduce stress and help us sleep.
While you’re wandering around the house, agitated at wanting to fall asleep quickly even when you’re not tired, use lavender.
This lavender oil pictured is very popular on Amazon and well worth a sniff.
5. Write Down What’s Stressing You Out
If you’re lying in bed and you can’t stop thinking about your shift or
what you need to do the following day, write it down. Make it tomorrows
Most of the time the issues are not urgent and can be solved easily the next day.
Once it’s on the paper, the worry of remembering it has vanished.
Just don’t use your phone’s light for this as the blue light will wake up those sleep hormones again.
People often say, just ‘stop thinking about it’ when giving sleeping advice.
But that doesn’t work for me. Writing down my worries and concerns works a treat when trying to fall asleep quickly.
6. Dip Your Face in Freezing Cold Water
This is called the Mammalian dive reflex.
I thought it was a load of fluff, similar to the socks theory I
mentioned later on, but it seems it’s a real thing and actually works!
Immerse your face in cold water for 30 seconds and it will lower your heart rate and narrow your blood vessels.
This causes reduced blood flow to the limbs leaving more for the brain and heart.
Basically, it puts your body into a relaxed hibernation mode.
Who would have thought the simple ‘splashing your face with water in the morning’ could actually put you to sleep?
7. Get the Temperature Right
Adjust the thermostat in your bedroom to 60–75°F (15–23°C).
Your body temperature naturally drops overnight (becoming it’s coldest
at 4 am) so it’s best to provide what your body wants, even though it
may be uncomfortable in the beginning.
Try also leaving a window open, using a fan or even the air con to reach this desired temperature.
If it’s too hot, my dreams are often vivid and wild waking me up in the middle of the night. I’m sure I’m not the only one?
Check out our favorite sleep aids here. Don’t worry, most are VERY
reasonably priced and make a huge difference in your quality of sleep.
8. Take a Warm Bath or Shower
My hands and entire body get exposed to some pretty gross stuff on an average shift at the hospital.
I’ll spare you the details by simply saying, having a warm bath/shower is exactly what I need as soon as I walk in the door.
But having a warm shower/bath is actually much more than just personal hygiene.
Body temperature plays an important part in regulating your circadian
rhythm (body clock), which tells the body when to feel sleepy or alert.
Did you know your body is naturally cooler while you sleep? Night shift chills are REAL after all!
9. Drink Gold Juice
We only recently discovered this winner and I will say, it’s phenomenal.
Warming Organifi Gold Juice with hot milk seems to almost have a
hypnotic effect on me and I’m straight to sleep!
Americans are spending up to 50 BILLION dollars a year on sleeping pills! Crazy right?
The irony is, those pills DON’T let you get the rejuvenating rest you need. That’s why we love Gold Juice.
It’s packed with superfoods to help me not only sleep soundly but it also helps support my joints and strengthen my muscles.
It’s packed with amazing, healthy ingredients like Reishi mushrooms
which are used to enhance youthfulness and longevity. Bring me some of
It also comes in a chocolate variety too which is a delight!
10. Put Down the Caffeine and Drink Tea
Us shift workers LOVE caffeine! Alcohol, chocolate, soda, coffee.. you name it. It is our go-to pick me up.
But instead of gulping down a large mocha latte with whipped cream from
Starbucks on your way home, switch the decaf or start drinking
decaffeinated herbal tea.
If that sounds uninteresting – I assure you, your taste buds will get used to it and will CRAVE it.
The caffeine signals to your brain it’s time to party and sleeping will
be a distant memory – unless you’re planning a coffee nap.
I use a variety of different teas on an average day. I regularly reach
for Twinings of London Pure Peppermint Herbal Tea Bags after a meal to
settle my stomach and help digestion.
Then I brew a cup of either Green tea or Harney & Sons Chamomile
Herbal Tea as I’m winding down for bed. Both on day shift and night
If I happen to wake up in the middle of the night and I’m struggling to
fall back asleep, my go-to tea is Twinings of London Lemon & Ginger
Herbal Tea Bags.
My mom recommended this simple tea combination after I complained about
waking in the middle of the night. So I’m paying it forward. You’ll
thank me at 4 am.
11. Read a Book
Not a bookworm? You don’t have to be. Reading is an incredible way to wind down, however, don’t do it in bed.
Allow your brain to make the connection that bed is for sleep and “special cuddles” and nothing else.
Wind down with a good book at least 30 minutes before bed, but don’t
forget your Swannies to block out the blue light. This is a very
important step and cannot be missed.
We want to keep that brain in the mood to fall asleep – even when we’re not tired!
If hardcover books are too clunky, why not try reading a kindle? Check
out the amazing deals through Amazon by clicking on the image below.
12. Turn Off/Close Your Screen
Continuing on from the above point, the blue light streaming from your devices will make getting to sleep almost impossible.
Limit your screen time an hour before you sleep and try some of the suggestions recommended in this post.
If you’re struggling to do that, slide on your blue light blocking glasses (from Amazon) and you’ll be right to keep scrolling!
Another tip here is just before you switch everything off, make sure you
have ‘night shift mode‘ and ‘do not disturb’ activated on all your
These settings are generally found under display settings and will watch your back from disturbances!
13. Control Your Breathing
For so long I ignored this method of falling to sleep because I thought it would never work.
But since I started to actually pay attention and show some self-love,
the effects of slow, relaxed breathing are incredible. Such an
incredibly easy way fall asleep quickly even when you’re not tired!
It may seem strange at first to simply sit in one place and do nothing,
but it’s a very natural thing that’s been going on for centuries!
The 4-7-8 method is a brilliant way to start slowly introducing
meditation into your life. It takes a little while to get used to, as
it’s a bit different from others mentioned above, but it works a treat!
If you’re feeling a little wired’ from the events on your shift, try
this simple, yet powerful tool. It will help relax your nervous system
and promote calmness and relaxation.
15. Wear Socks
The first time I heard this I thought it was really weird.
But the theory here is, by heating your cold feet it tells the brain
that it’s bedtime. In medical terms, it’s called “vasodilation”.
It may not be the sexiest sleeping strategy but it’s worth a try, especially when it’s scientifically proven research, right?
16. Take Melatonin or Other Sleep Supplements
You can see from this extensive list that medications are NOT the only
option to help you fall to sleep quickly even when you’re not tired.
In the small handful of times, we have used Melatonin, we did fall to sleep, but awoke feeling terrible!
If you absolutely need to take Melatonin then go for it, BUT try all these solutions first.
Our tip here is if you still have 4+ sleeping time before you need to
get up, but you can’t sleep, then take it. Any less, resist. Otherwise,
you’ll wake feeling lethargic and groggy.
Natrol Melatonin works well and is very popular on Amazon if you need to stick a spare bottle in the medicine cabinet.
Just be aware, I personally only need either the 3mg or 5mg, not the 10mg. It’s too much for me.