Close this search box.

Do You Have a Night Shift Hobby?

Do you have downtime on your night shift? How do you fill the wee hours when there is nothing to do? Here are a bunch of portable projects to fill your time and keep you awake!

Some people who work the night shift actually work all night. I’m not one of those people.

Sure, I’m technically at work all night. And there are definitely nights when I walk in at 7 p.m. and work in a near frenzy until my relief arrives at 7 a.m.

But there are other nights where there are large chunks of the night—usually the wee hours—that have no tasks to offer. The patients are registered, the charts are up-to-date, the office supplies are fully stocked, the scanning is finished… and those sweet nights offer the gift of time.

It can be helpful to fill downtime with activity to stay fresh and awake.

Well, a specific kind of time. It’s not like I can go do the things I’d really like to do… like sleep for a few hours or boot up my Macbook. And there is a very narrow window of what is considered to be professionally acceptable at a nursing station. It’s not the time to break out the watercolour paints. Painting your nails is also definitely out of the question. The whole team needs to be ready to dive into action at any moment. No wet nails allowed.

I think a lot of night shift workers are in a similar situation. We need to be there—awake and alert—but sometimes we have stretches of downtime. It can be helpful to fill any downtime with activity to stay fresh and awake.

Suitable night shift activities are things that you can easily pick up and put down. Something you can tuck into your work bag and bring with you “just in case” you end up with a few minutes.

Depending on your workstation setup and workplace rules, you could try:


  • Reading: Choose books or e-books (fiction! non-fiction! comic books!)
  • Writing or journaling: Create poetry, write thank you cards, or keep a journal.
  • Drawing or sketching: Grab a sketchpad and pencils for a creative outlet.
  • Listening to podcasts or audiobooks: Stay entertained or learn something new.
  • Stargazing: If your workplace has outdoor access, appreciate the night sky.
  • Puzzle games: Engage your mind with crossword puzzles, Sudoku, or mobile apps.
  • Learning a language: Use language learning apps for bite-sized lessons.
  • Digital art: Explore digital drawing or graphic design on a tablet.
  • Online courses: Take advantage of e-learning platforms for personal or professional development.
  • Sewing: Try mending a small clothing item.
  • Stretching exercises: Incorporate gentle exercises to stay active.
  • Music exploration: Discover new music genres and create curated playlists.
  • Photography: Capture interesting moments during breaks or on your way home.
  • Crafting with minimal supplies: Try simple crafts like origami or knitting.
  • Virtual tours: Explore museums or landmarks through online virtual tours.


You definitely want to check with your team what is considered acceptable or unacceptable at your job. No sense in getting fired over a knitting project.

Do you have night shift hobbies? Tell us what they are below in the comments!

Night Shift Wellness Do You Have a Night Shift Hobby?

Last updated: 2024-03-09

Picture of Lauren McGill

Lauren McGill

I work at the intersection of healthcare and storytelling. As a medical writer, I help healthcare experts publish content so they stand out as thought leaders.

Share This Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Table of Contents

Latest Posts

Related Posts


How to Host a Night Shift Book Club

Book lover and NICU nurse Kelsey Donmoyer shares how she started a book club for night shift workers—now 471 members strong.