Rotating Shifts

Mastering Rotating Shifts … While Still Getting Sleep!

Aug 12, 2020

Working different shifts is often just a part of working in medicine. Patients need care 24/7, and there needs to be someone there to give it to them. When you accept your contract assignment, it is often with an understanding of the schedule you'll be working. But, as we all know, life happens and sometimes what's planned doesn't materialize. Whether you knew you'd be working a rotating shift or decided to step up and help the facility, here are some tips and tricks to help you get through the inevitable sleep confusion.


It's a common mistake to think that what you eat doesn't have too much to do with how rested you'll feel. Fortunately, this is one aspect of working rotating shifts over which you have control. The food you eat each day can help you function optimally, so it's important to make smart choices.

Vegetables are a smart choice to help support your body's nutritional needs. Steer clear of processed foods and junk food snacks. You might think of them as comfort food, but they do some serious damage to your cell's powerhouse - the mitochondria. Instead, shop around the outside of the grocery store for whole foods. 

Stay well hydrated with water. Soda and other carbonated beverages are not healthy choices. Drink enough, so your urine is a light straw color. Your body needs a lot of water to function well. If you are just slightly dehydrated, it reduces your ability to think clearly, something you definitely need while working!

Live on a Schedule

It may be ok to push the envelope once in a while when there's something you want to do, but on a routine basis, it's essential to live on a work, sleep and eat schedule. The schedule changes as your work hours change, but it's the schedule that will keep you sane.

Working rotating shifts can take a toll on your body, so it's important to check in with yourself regularly to ensure you're getting enough quality sleep and eating quality food. Remember that rest and relaxation must be the priority over productivity.

Scheduling Your Rotations

Whenever possible, rotate your shifts clockwise. This is usually easier to make the necessary sleep and eating adjustments. In other words, ask if you can rotate from day shift to evenings and then to nights. This is better for your body than rotating the other way or having no pattern to the rotation.

Pay Attention to Quality Sleep

Shift work is challenging because you're eating and sleeping out of sync with your biological clock. When you sleep on an irregular schedule, you are working against the clock, so it can be difficult to get 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep initially. Here are some tips to help get your body ready for sleep.

  • When you're coming home in the morning, use sunglasses to block the sun. This helps your melatonin levels.
  • Keep your room dark. Consider room darkening blinds and a sleep mask to block out all light. 
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages within five hours of sleep. You might be able to fall asleep, but the quality of sleep won't be as good.
  • Don't watch TV or get on your phone before bed. The blue light wakes your brain up and makes it difficult to get good rest.

Your Next Assignment is Waiting for You

If you're looking for flexibility and dependability from a staffing agency, then GetMed Medical Staffing is exactly what you need. Our professional recruiters are adept at finding assignments and walking you through your contract. Our agency offers competitive insurance options, retirement benefits, and competitive pay. Call our recruiters today and discover how working with experts makes life easier.