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5 Best Apps to Aid Sleep for Night Shift Workers

It goes without saying that night shifts can be tough. Rearranging your sleep schedule can be taxing both physically and mentally. Many night shift workers in fields such as healthcare, aviation and security often experience fatigue, loss of focus, problems sleeping during the day, and even anxiety and depression.

If you’re having trouble adjusting to night shift hours, there are some great apps that will help make your life easier. Designed to optimize your health and well-being, a night shift app can help you organize your shifts, sleep better and lower stress levels, which in turn can help you be more productive at work.

How Night Shift Work Affects Your Sleep

Night shift work affects your circadian rhythm, which is your body’s natural internal clock. The Circadian rhythm controls processes such as sleeping and wakefulness over a 24-hour period. Humans are naturally wired to sleep when it is dark and be awake when it is light out. When you switch this up, the circadian rhythm becomes disrupted.

Because the circadian rhythm is set for sleep at night and wakefulness during the day, you may find that you are tired during your night shift and then have trouble sleeping when you are off during the day. This may result in you getting only a few hours of sleep in your down time, which can cause health problems.

Lack of sleep can lead to a number of conditions that can affect your job performance including lack of focus, memory issues and low energy. More serious issues could include poor digestion, hormonal imbalances and a weakened immune system. This is why it’s so important to adjust your body and mind to the late night shifts.

The Best Apps For Night Shift Workers

These apps were created for anyone struggling with organization, sleep, stress and a hectic lifestyle.

Timeshifter Shift Work

Many sleep and work schedule apps offer advice designed for those working 9-to-5 jobs, but Timeshifter Shift Work takes into account night shift workers as well. Shift workers can enter their work schedules, sleep patterns and chronotype to receive personalized advice on everything from timed light exposure to the best night shift sleep schedule. One Timeshifter app review calls it a ‘game changer’ thanks to its science-based methodology.

Price: Free


Juggling constantly changing shifts can be incredibly stressful, which can result in sleepless days. MyShiftWork aims to alleviate the hassle by creating a space where you can manage all your shifts in one place. Create customized icons and set alarm reminders so you never miss a shift. You can also sync the app to your Google calendar and send your shift list to others so they know when to give you space for sleeping during the day. This is a top contender for the best work schedule app for night workers.

Price: Free


One of the biggest problems that night shift workers face is trying to sleep through noise and distractions during the day. Noisli helps by providing soothing background sounds to drown out other noises. You can mix and match different sounds such as gentle rain, rustling leaves, or a relaxing train ride. The app also has calming playlists to help you focus, relax and sleep. In addition, you can set the timer so that the background noises cease after you’ve already nodded off.

Price: Free with subscriptions for advanced features

Insight Timer

Many consider Insight Timer the best sleep app free of charge because it contains a huge amount of content geared towards alleviating stress, calming you down and putting you into a state of deep sleep. It features guided sleep meditation exercises, bedtime stories, background sounds and workshops that help you find your balance even when you’re working shifts at odd hours. The app gives you tons of options to help plan the best night shift sleep schedule for you.

Price: Free with subscriptions for advanced options


Research shows that meditation can significantly improve your sleep quality. Plus, it can also help reduce stress and anxiety, which is key for night shift workers in high pressure jobs such as nursing. Headspace has guided meditations for all times of day and night. The ‘sleep casts’ include exercises to wind down, soothing music, stories and more. You can also use the app throughout the day to practice better breathing and mindfulness, which can positively affect your sleep later when you do decide to switch off.

Price: 7-day free trial, then a monthly or yearly subscription

Best Sleep Schedule For Night Shift Workers

Because all night shifts are different, there are no set hours or times of day that are best to sleep. Your sleep schedule will depend on your shift times, your unique sleep patterns and your preferences. However, there are some things you can do to improve your sleep quality and find a better work-life balance.

  Keep a regular schedule. It’s common for night shift workers to want to switch to regular hours on their days off so they can spend time with family and friends. However, this can make it more difficult to get quality sleep when you get back to work. Try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule even on the evenings you’re not working.

    Avoid stimulants before you plan to sleep. Coffee and other stimulants can help you stay awake and more alert during your shift, but you should avoid taking them at least a few hours before your shift ends. This gives your body time to wind down in preparation for sleep.

     Keep your bedroom as dark as possible. Light affects your circadian rhythm, making your body feel as though it should be awake. This is why you may not be tired during the day even after you’ve just worked a full shift. You may want to consider investing in blackout curtains for the bedroom or sleeping in the darkest room in the house.

     Eat a balanced diet. Night shift workers often eat at odd hours or grab quick bites on the go. Try to eat just like you would if you had a 9-to-5 job. This means three meals spaced apart at regular intervals. Nutritious food will also help your body adjust to the odd hours and erratic schedules.

Night shift work can be challenging on your body and your mind, but there are strategies you can employ to ensure you’re getting optimal sleep and reducing your stress levels. At the end of the day, self care should be your number one priority. The better your health and well-being, the better you’ll be able to do your job and enjoy a fulfilling life outside of work.

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