How to Stay Mentally Sharp During a Long Shift


Working nontraditional hours like a graveyard, early morning, or split shift can have some negative impacts on sleep and overall health. Working nights or other odd hours can disrupt your circadian rhythm or biological clock.

Dysregulation of the circadian rhythm can cause sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, poor memory, poor focus, and changes in body temperature, hormone levels, and hunger. Keep reading to learn how you can best support your body and brain while working unusual hours.

Lifestyle changes to improve mental focus

A young woman sleeping with a eye covering mask.

While most employees can’t change their work schedules, there are some adjustments you can make to lessen the symptoms associated with working long shifts.

Keep a regular sleep schedule

Try to keep your sleep schedule the same, even when you have days off. Keeping your sleep schedule consistent will help regulate your circadian rhythm. You should practice before-sleep rituals even when you’re going to sleep during the day. If you are consistent with sleep and wake times, and practice a before-bed routine, you’re likely to feel more rested and more clear-headed during those long shifts at work.

Wear sunglasses when you leave work during daylight hours

Daylight and darkness have a significant effect on your circadian rhythm, sleep, and alertness. Your body’s internal clock takes light as a signal to be awake, and dark as a signal to go to sleep. Wearing sunglasses when you leave work in the daylight can decrease your exposure to light, which may help prevent your circadian rhythm from activating the daytime clock.

You can also use black-out curtains to keep your living space and bedroom dark during the day. This will help improve sleep quality and regulate your biological clock.

Getting quality sleep is important for concentration and mental focus. Without adequate sleep, neurons become overworked as they are unable to recover from the day. This prevents the brain from functioning properly, which can negatively affect mental focus, critical thinking, and reaction times.

Eat a brain-friendly diet

Ripe raspberry with leaf

Your brain needs adequate nutrition to function properly. There are certain foods that help boost brain functioning, particularly omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.

Much of your brain is comprised of fat, specifically omega-3s. Brain and nerve cells are made of omega-3 fatty acids, so consuming more of them can keep your brain functioning optimally.

Fatty fish contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s play a role in sharpening the mind, memory, and improving mood, as well as protecting your brain against cognitive decline.

Fruits and vegetables that contain antioxidants also support brain health. Blueberries, broccoli, and oranges particularly may have a positive effect on brain function.

A scientific review of 11 studies showed that blueberries may help improve memory and cognition in children and older adults.

Broccoli is packed with vitamin K and antioxidants. Studies have linked increased vitamin K intake to better memory and cognition.

Oranges contain a high dose of vitamin C, which is an important antioxidant that plays a role in preventing cognitive decline.

One study showed that a higher consumption of vitamin C was associated with better cognition, memory, focus, and faster decision-making. You can also increase your vitamin C intake by eating bell peppers, guava, kiwi, tomatoes, and strawberries.

In addition to eating a diet high in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, eating balanced meals and snacks every 3-4 hours can help increase your energy and mental stamina. Eat a balanced meal consisting of carbohydrates, protein, and dietary fat before you head off to work. This will keep you feeling full and focused for longer.

Drink caffeine

One of the most common supplements that can increase energy and mental focus is caffeine. Caffeine activates areas of the brain that make you feel more alert and awake.

Green coffee beans provide a boost of clean-feeling energy from caffeine, increasing alertness and focus without the jitters or crashes afterward.

Panax ginseng is another compound that can improve focus during a long shift. Panax ginseng has been shown to enhance cognition, memory, and mood.

Additionally, the adaptogen ashwagandha has been shown to control mediators of stress in the body. This supplement can reduce stress and anxiety and improve workplace performance.

The energy wellness shot from Naked Nutrition is a convenient way to get caffeine, Panax ginseng, and ashwagandha all in one shot. Drink it before a work shift to energize your body and boost mental focus.

You’ll want to avoid drinking caffeine too close to the time you need to sleep, so drink Naked Fire Shot at the beginning of your shift.


The number of employees working unconventional shift hours in the United States continues to grow. If you must work long shifts or abnormal hours, there isn’t much you can do to change your schedule, but you can make lifestyle changes to get better sleep and make sure you are alert and focused during your shift.

Keep a regular sleep schedule with a consistent bedtime routine. Avoid exposure to light when leaving work by wearing sunglasses. Eat a diet rich in brain-boosting antioxidants and omega-3s, and drink caffeine before your shift to increase energy and mental sharpness.


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