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The Graveyard Shift

Nancy Richison
Accredited Nursing Program Accredited Nursing Program
Four tips on surviving (and thriving) when it's your turn at graveyard

The overnight shift is almost its own pillar in the world of nursing, beloved by some and loathed by others. Here are four tips on surviving (and thriving) when it’s your turn to work the graveyard shift.

  • Healthy snacks: Late nights and snacking go hand in hand. But before you dig for change to rendezvous with the vending machine down the hall, remember that a sugar crash from junk food will leave you more tired in the middle of your shift. Instead, prepare for success and bring veggies, like baby carrots and cucumber slices, or mixed nuts to curb your hunger and keep you focused on your patients.
  • Caffeinate and hydrate: Yes, college teaches you to like (or even depend on) coffee during midnight study sessions, and while we would never encourage you to abandon your java jolt after 1:00 a.m. rounds, that jolt can quickly turn to shakes! Keep your hands steady and alternate your cups of coffee with water. You’d be amazed how a cold drink of water can revive a sleepy brain.
  • Get plenty of sleep: When scheduled for the overnight shift, it’s tempting to just stay awake throughout the day and then your shift, but your patients need you to be fresh and on your game. Get some good sleep the night before your shift and make sure to get a nap a few hours before you clock in. It will take the edge off a long shift and make you a little more bright-eyed when you put on your scrubs.
  • Have a positive attitude: Arguably the most important tip on the list, attitude is everything. Though working the overnight is not an ideal shift for some nurses, your patients still need the compassion and diligent care they would receive from a nurse working the daytime shift. Remembering why you love nursing and keeping a smile on your face will make your shift go by that much faster!

Compassionate and competent healthcare — during the graveyard shift and every shift — as at the heart of the Department of Nursing at Huntington University. Interested in earning your Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree at a Christian school? Visit for more information and to schedule a visit.

Original text by Stephanie Morin. Updated for 2022 by Huntington University.

Written by
Nancy Richison