I recently landed a job on third shift, and it’s the fourth time in my lifetime I’ve worked third shift. I’ve always hated third shift, but I’ve also come to respect the diehards who do it year after year. It’s tricky, and not always easy. The sun is your enemy. Summer is also a pain. There are a great many things that get in the way of sleeping all day after working all night. Here are a few tips I’ve gathered along the way.

  1. Naps
    Never underestimate the nap. There will be periods where you’re not working midnights, whether they be one day spans or longer. Adjusting to varying schedules is only possible when you’re able to take a good nap somewhere in between.

  2. Light
    When you’re trying to sleep, sunlight can be a major annoyance. Double up your curtains, buy heavy ones, tape them to the wall. There are curtains specifically designed to block sunlight. I kid you not. It can also help to stuff towels or other miscellaneous fabric beneath the door to keep sunlight from peeking under your door via a crack. Avoid horizontal and vertical blinds, it’s not possible to completely block sunlight out with those.

  3. Sound
    Summertime is the devil when you’re working midnights. Lawnmowers, children playing, dogs barking, and cars backfiring- These are all incredible annoyances if you’re a light sleeper. Noise happens a lot more during the day than it does at night, so invest in earplugs. You’ll be a much happier camper if you do this one ahead of time.

  4. Alarm, alarm, alarm
    Should tips one through three fail you in any way (which will happen, as nothing is guaranteed), make sure you have an alarm clock or cell phone alarm that can be set for multiple times. The best practice I’ve found is to set an alarm for half an hour before I have to get up, that way I’m not having to jump up the first time I hear an alarm. It makes me feel better to know I can still close my eyes a little bit if needed. Your miles may vary with this one, so be careful. Not everyone is the same, and this tip might bite some people in the ass.

  5. Time off
    The greatest advice I can give you is to not forget that you’re working full time midnights. There will be large blocks of your time cut off from friends and family because everyone needs sleep, and you just happen to have an incredibly awkward sleep / work schedule that isolates you from a large portion of humanity. Don’t try and switch to a regular sleep schedule for one or two days off. There are times when you’ll have to wake up in the middle of the day to do something important, that’s inevitable. Just remember tip number one and you’ll be okay.

Well, that’s pretty much all I have. I need to get my own ass in bed right now. If anyone else has something good to add, go ahead and comment. Maybe these tips suck, or are just too obvious. I don’t know. A lot of it I had to pick up along the way. Good luck.