‘Don’t try and ‘trick’ your body into changing day into night’: NHS nurse on riding through the fatigue of night shifts

“I work as a nurse in the UK National Health Service (NHS), long days and often long nights. You miss the structure and the motivation is difficult at times,”  Dave O’Keefe begins.  Night shifts can have serious impacts on your health but lifestyle changes can help. For O’Keefe – who has worked with the NHS for 25 years and covered shifts for decades – the answer is organisation, and sticking to a plan. “I have to be quite disciplined. Shift work means you lose the usual structure of days and nights, so, I have to give myself a structure,” he says. 

“I look ahead at the 2-hour gaps I’ve got and make it work. I get home from a night shift at 9-10am. I then have a couple of hours sleep followed by a couple of hours gentle cycling. It is my reward for the night shift – surviving the nights. Once I’m a bit more recovered the next day I would do a bit of a longer ride.”  

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