Despite several years of experience of working hospital night shifts, I never really get used to them – physically or psychologically. Falling asleep during the day is not really the problem, but feeling fresh after broken (although technically sufficient) sleep during the day is a status I have never achieved.

Research centred on shift-workers tells you that they are at increased risk of getting colds and the flu, have increased risk of obesity, high cholesterol and as a consequence heart disease. No surprise when eating patterns and sleep are so erratic and the normal, healthy appetite is unexplainably replaced by the innate desire to eat a fry-up every morning (if only there was someone there to cook it) and opt for take-out food in the evening. I’m lucky that I don’t do them that often and have a job at the moment where I am allowed to get a couple of hours of sleep at night, but I know the non-stop kind too.

Here are my tips for a better set of nights:

1. Plan a reward for the end of the night-shifts: a pedicure, a haircut, a night-out, a weekend away, wandering around the tiny shops in your neighbourhood which are normally closed by the time you get home from work, breakfast at your favourite cafe poring over a glossy magazine , buy yourself some flowers – whatever makes you happy. (I’m really not sure how the boys reward themselves.)

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2. Think about that wonderful feeling when the last shift is over on a Friday morning and you get to start your 3-day weekend when everyone else has to go to work.

3. Try and do some exercise during the week. I admit the motivation to go on a run before a shift often fails me, but I do know that when accomplished, it invariably energises and make you feel much better.

4. Remember that there are tons of others out there working nights and try not to feel so sorry for yourself. Although some empathy from family and friends is always appreciated.

5. Apparently wearing dark glasses on your way home from work helps. Never tried it.

6. Avoid alcohol. Although, if you need to be told this, it’s worrying. Drink lots of water instead. That’s always good right? A charge nurse I work with brings in a huge can of freshly brewed mint tea with honey to nights (which he is always happy to share). That’s even better than water. Definitely healthier than relying on coffee and cans of coke through the night.

7. Eat healthily. It’s hard. But you will have fewer spots and feel better. Shop for all the healthy stuff before you start your nights.

8. Try to leave work at work when you get home. And don’t run too many errands or make too many appointments during the day, as tempting as it is to get everything done. Yes you can finally make it to the post-office, the bank, the GP, the garage and every official body in your city, but there will be a queue everywhere and you need to get some sleep.

9. Listen to a couple of tracks of feel-good/energetic music before you leave the house. Music makes everything better.

10. Remember to appreciate the pure luxury of sleeping during the day, whatever the circumstances.