So here are a five tips on how to survive working night shifts:
1. Spend the first 10 minutes or so coming up with a list of things you intend to do tonight, and try to stick to it. Unless there is emergent work, night shift can really drag. For me it's helpful to keep myself as busy and focused as possible to power through the shift.
2. Keep a supply of your preferred form of caffeine (especially for the first few nights).
On a serious note: if you like energy drinks double check the alcohol content as this might get you into trouble with your work... research link on false positive breathalyzer tests from energy drinks here!
3. If you are on night shift for an extended period of time, try to define a regular schedule for yourself. Decide when "breakfast" "lunch" and "dinner" are, and try to stick to it. Without this, I tend to find myself wanting to eat entire bags of chips throughout the night instead of real meals. This practice, while delicious, is not recommended.
4. Bring some pump up music to keep you going when that 2 am feeling hits, especially if you are the only one on night shift.
5. On your way home, if you are too tired to drive don't. I've definitely napped in my car before if I felt too tired to drive. If the temperature is such that car-napping is out of the question, find a coworker to drive you home. I really couldn't stress this more- driving tired is driving impaired, and it isn't worth the risk.
Hopefully armed with these tips, you'll thrive at work no matter what the time of day. Now the only thing you have to deal with is trying to explain your schedule to your friends and family!
PS. How do you cope with working odd hours?