Tips on How to Stay Rested as an EMT If You Work the Night Shift

Tips on How to Stay Rested as an EMT If You Work the Night Shift

Mar 15, 2015 | 9:00 am

Working the night shift is a challenge in any career, especially when it’s EMT night shift. Providing the correct medical care at just the right time can make the difference between life and death, so receiving the benefits of a sleep is essential to your career and well-being.

We all know that lack of sleep can cause irritability, drowsy driving and even obesity, so how do you stay alert, friendly and calm under pressure when you work the EMT night shift?

Ways to Get Sleep

According to the National Sleep Foundation, starting and maintaining a consistent sleep-and-wake routine is the first step to keeping rested. If you must stay awake for an EMT night shift, it’s vital to get seven to nine hours of needed sleep during the day, even on the weekends. This can prove challenging, especially with family, friends and daily life needs. Here are some tips on how to make it happen:

•Get Support from Family and Friends

Decide on sleep hours and get those around you on board with your routine. In a post from, James Newberger advises that you tell friends, family and supervisors when you regularly sleep, but give out a pager number to a select few in the case of a real emergency. Why a pager and not a cell phone? Keeping your cell phone nearby can lead to texts, alarms, alerts and other non-emergency disruptions. With family members giving you space and putting home phones, cell phones and emails out of reach, there’s a better chance of sleep.

•Use the Dark and Light to Your Advantage

At night the body knows it’s time to sleep, and when the sun comes up, the light sends signals to the brain for the body to wake. When you have EMT night shift, you need to flip the routine. U.S. News & World Report suggests making it as bright as possible during the time you’re expected to be awake and alert. On your drive home, wear sunglasses to keep it dim on your eyes, preparing for sleep. At home, keep your room as dark as possible.

•Create a Sleep Routine That Your Body Will Recognize

Perhaps you drive home with sunglasses, head straight to a dark bedroom and listen to relaxing music while donning your pajamas. Or, if it’s possible to keep your bathroom dark, you might choose to take a soothing soak before heading to a dim bedroom. Whatever routine you choose, try to stay consistent so your body recognizes it’s time to sleep.

•Make the Environment “Sleep Friendly”

Now that you’re ready for sleep, your body is in a routine and your family is on board with the plan, nothing completes the picture better than creating a perfectly sleepy environment in and around your bed. Ensure you are comfortable with pillows, bedding and sheets. Use soothing smells, such as lavender or soft sounds, such as a white-noise machine.

Of course cutting down on caffeine as your shift draws to a close and getting some exercise during your waking hours is critical, but combine that with a consistent sleep-wake routine and you’ve found a formula for staying rested as an EMT working nights.