How To Prepare For A Night Shift As A Security Guard

How To Prepare For A Night Shift As A Security Guard

Working the graveyard shift as a security guard can be challenging, but with the right preparation it doesn’t have to be dreadful. In fact, the stillness of the night can even be peaceful. As someone who has spent many years working overnight security, I’ve learned tips and tricks to set myself up for an alert and productive shift. 

Whether you’re new to the overnight patrol or you’re a seasoned guard looking to optimize your late shifts, this blog post contains key advice on preparing mentally and physically. I’ll share the meal and sleep schedules that work best before a long night, equipment that helps guards stay vigilant in the wee hours, and mindset adjustments that keep you engaged. 

My goal is to provide actionable steps you can take so your overnight shift goes as smoothly as possible. Stick with me and you’ll be ready to take on even the toughest graveyard shift. Now let’s get started so you can prepare to be at your best when the rest of the world sleeps.

What Is Night Shift Security?

Night shift security guards work overnight hours when businesses and properties are closed. Their duties typically include patrolling premises, monitoring activity through security cameras and alarm systems, controlling access by unlocking/locking doors and gates, writing comprehensive reports, and contacting emergency services if an incident occurs. It’s an important role that requires guards to be vigilant and attentive throughout the full shift, despite the late hours and potential solitude. Preparing properly helps night guards stay alert and safe.

How Much Do Night Security Guards Make?

On average, night shift security guards in the UK earn between £9-12 per hour. Those with more experience, advanced licenses/training, or who work in supervisory roles may earn upwards of £14 per hour or £30,000 annually. There are also opportunities to progress into salaried security management positions. The pay tends to be higher than daytime security work to compensate for the inconvenience of overnight hours. But being well-prepared with proper rest, diet and equipment makes those extra pounds feel worth it.

What Techniques Can I Use To Prepare For A Night Shift As A Security Guard?

Here are my top techniques for making sure you’re ready to stay vigilant during a full graveyard shift:

Get Into A Good Sleep Routine

Having healthy sleep habits is crucial when working nights. In the days leading up to your shift, stick to a strict sleep schedule that allows for 7-9 hours of quality rest during daylight. Some people prefer splitting sleep between a long nap before work and a shorter morning sleep after the shift. Get blackout curtains so you can sleep deeply despite sunlight. Find what routine leaves you feeling well-rested when you have to be up all night.

Stay Hydrated

Dehydration makes anyone feel sluggish, which you can’t afford on the job. Drink at least 2-3 litres of water throughout your shift to stay hydrated. Avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol which can dehydrate you further. Bring a large refillable water bottle to have constant access to fluids. Staying hydrated will keep your mind sharper.

Keep An Eye On Your Caffeine Intake

While some coffee can perk you up, depend too heavily on caffeine and you’ll eventually crash. Limit intake to 1-2 cups early in your shift to minimize jitters or insomnia. Opt for healthy snacks over energy drinks which pack tons of sugar and chemicals.

Eat Right Before And During Your Shift

Eat a nutritious dinner before arriving to work with protein, complex carbs and vegetables to power you through until morning. Bring healthy snacks like mixed nuts, carrots, granola bars or fruit and eat something small each hour. Having nutrients in your system prevents fatigue. Avoid heavy fast food which can make you lethargic.

Keep Your Mind Engaged

One hazard of night patrols is monotony and mental boredom when activity is minimal. Prepare by downloading podcasts, audiobooks or making engaging playlists to listen to while you make rounds. Bring books or magazines to read on your breaks. Having mental stimulation makes the time pass faster so you don’t lose focus.

Incorporate Regular Exercise

Guard duty means lots of walking, but still make time for longer exercise sessions 3-4 times per week. Cardio, strength training and yoga will keep your energy and mental focus sharper on the job. Guards who workout tend to sleep and eat better too.

Consider Installing Blue Lighting

Some security offices install special blue-spectrum lighting at night since it promotes alertness. The blue tones inhibit melatonin production which makes you feel more awake. Talk to your supervisor about adding these lights in patrol areas or the control monitoring room. Having bright blue lighting can make a big difference in energy levels overnight.

Take Your Breaks

While being constantly vigilant is important, don’t forget about taking allowed breaks to rest and recharge. Stepping away from your post for 15-20 minutes to drink water, eat something healthy or just close your eyes helps boosts energy when you return to duty. Don’t neglect breaks that are already built into your shift schedule. Letting your mind fully disengage briefly makes a big difference.

So, What Do I Need To Know When It Comes To How To Prepare For A Night Shift As A Security Guard?

The key takeaways for preparing both physically and mentally for overnight security shifts include:

  • Stick to a strict sleep routine in the days leading up to your shift that allows for 7-9 hours of total sleep
  • Hydrate frequently by drinking 2-3+ litres of water during your shift
  • Limit caffeine intake to 1-2 cups of coffee early in your shift
  • Eat nutritious meals and snacks like veggies, fruit, nuts and protein
  • Stimulate your mind while patrolling with podcasts, audiobooks or music
  • Exercise 3-4 times a week for boosted energy and stamina
  • Consider installing bright blue lighting to inhibit melatonin production
  • Take all scheduled breaks to give your mind and body much needed rest

Following the above best practices will ensure you feel focused and alert to perform excellent security work, even during the challenging graveyard shift hours. Being properly prepared makes all the difference.


Working overnight security can be uniquely challenging, but extremely rewarding if you prepare both your body and mind adequately for the demands of the night. From following savvy sleep and nutrition regiments to using smart equipment like blue lights and audiobooks, the techniques above will help any guard stay vigilant after the sun goes down. Here’s to many successful night patrols ahead!


What’s the best thing to eat before a night shift?

Eat a balanced meal 3-4 hours before your shift with protein, complex carbs and veggies to give you lasting energy. Good choices are chicken, fish or tofu with rice/quinoa/pasta and broccoli.

What if I feel sleepy during my security shift?

Walk briskly around your patrol area, splash cold water on your face/back of neck, chew mint gum or have a healthy snack for quick energy. Ask a supervisor about taking a 20 min nap break if needed.

How much sleep do I need if working nights?

Aim for at least 7-9 hrs of total sleep by either sleeping split shifts or all at once with blackout curtains. Don’t sacrifice daytime sleep before shifts.

Can I listen to music if I’m a night guard?

Ask your supervisor, but most allow music/podcasts with one earbud to combat boredom, as long as you remain alert. Audio books are another great option.

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