Hello. I am struggling to find a decent time to practise when I am awake and alert. I work a permanent night shift, does anyone have any suggestions?
I always found that first thing after sleep (whenever that is for you) was the best. well, maybe after a coffee! You simply plan to wake up an hour earlier than necessary. The advantage is that its then much harder for other things to get in the way.
Elise's advice is very good. Another good time might be as soon as you get home from your night shift. Of course much will depend on what you do on your night shift, how exhausted you are. But just as many people practice right after dinner, after a traditional day-shift job, you might find that you are able to make good progress after you have whatever meal you have immediately following your night shift.
You can keep a practice diary of sorts, keeping track of when, what, and how you practice, and how you feel. Then you can start to see patterns as well as see ways to make your practice more efficient. The hardest part of practice is always sitting down and puling out your instrument, that hurdle will always remain. I feel like once I get through warm ups, no matter how I'm feeling, I tend to be more focused and motivated to practice. Additionally, once you develop a good routine, it will feel weird not to practice.
When I was younger I practiced after school and years later after work.
I have found that the stress of upcoming commitments is the impediment to an effective and enjoyable practice/playing session. For me, as a retired early-to-bed-early-to-rise person is actually around 3:PM. By then all the scheduled daily activities are over and I'm not actually tired, yet. Without the distraction of more stuff to do (other than feed the cats which follows my practice/playing session) is my key to successful sessions.