Night Shift Jobs: Tips, Benefits + Drawbacks

December 26, 2023

19 min read

A blond woman wearing a face mask works at her pottery night shift job.

Whether you’re looking to earn some extra cash during the weekends or you just want a change of pace, night shift jobs can be a solution. Although they’re not for everyone, plenty of people enjoy and even prefer working nights as opposed to daytime hours. 

Our guide on night shift jobs will give you an overview on this type of work, including what industries are often hiring, how to prep, types of positions you might prefer, and tips for working a successful graveyard shift. 

What’s a Night Shift Job?

In general, a night shift job is a type of job where people work overnight. There are tons of other names for night shift jobs, such as:

  • Graveyard shift
  • Evening shift
  • Third shift
  • Closing shift
  • Midnight shift

Businesses offer night shift hours to extend their service beyond the typical 8 hours most companies are open for. 

Industries that offer night shift jobs

There are lots of industries that offer night shift jobs, especially in the healthcare industry. Healthcare in particular is a critical service that needs to function at all hours.

Other industries that offer night shift jobs include: 

  • Retail
  • Travel services, like airlines and hotels
  • Customer support
  • Hospitality services
  • Security
  • Long-term care
  • Food service
  • Journalism and news
  • Manufacturing and utilities 
  • Emergency services 

How many hours are night shift jobs?

The amount of hours night shift jobs offer can vary. The starting and ending times for a night shift job depends on the type of job and how long the business is open. 

For example, if the business is open 24/7, the hours of the night shift could be from 10 p.m. to anywhere from 6 to 8 a.m. It also just depends on the employer’s preference and needs. 

If it’s not a 24/7 business, the night shift will just refer to the “later” shift, whenever that may be. 

What are most night shift hours?

Most night shift hours begin in between 10 p.m. and midnight and end somewhere from 6 to 8 a.m. As mentioned above, this can totally depend on both the industry and the employer. 

What percent of America works the night shift?

About 7.4% of the working population — around 11 million adults — work the night shift often. Working night shift jobs is more common among men and people of color, as well as younger age groups, the largest being those between 18 and 29 years old. 

How to Use AI to Practice Interviewing for Night Shift Jobs

If you’re interested in scoring a night shift job, one of your first steps to prepare is practicing interviewing. For the most realistic practice interview experience, try an interview simulator like Yoodli.

Yoodli is an AI-powered interview coach that evaluates your speaking patterns and speech as you answer practice interview questions. It then provides a report of your individualized metrics and makes data-backed recommendations to improve.

Whenever you’re ready to start interviewing for night shift jobs, give this AI interview coach a try.

You can get started for free any time. This app is also available to download to your desktop, too. Here’s how it works.

The interview flow is totally customizable, meaning you can tailor it to your specific needs. For example, if you want to practice company-specific questions (like Walmart interview questions) or industry-specific questions (such as content marketing interview questions), you can easily do so.

You can enter the position title of the role you applied for and the company for specifics, or you can leave that as general. You’ll also be able to change the “personality” of the interviewer so you can get the most realistic experience. 

If you’re interested in exploring night shift jobs, this is a great way to prepare. 

Types of Night Shift Jobs

One of the best things about night shift jobs is that they’re so versatile. No matter what type of work you’re interested in, there’s plenty of opportunity. 

Here are some of the most common types of night shift jobs to explore. 

Healthcare night shift jobs

One of the biggest industries for night shift jobs is the healthcare system. Healthcare settings like hospitals, mental health facilities, and long-term care require people working around the clock. 

For example, some of the most common healthcare night shift jobs include positions like:

  • Nurses
  • Lab techs
  • EMTs
  • Paramedics
  • Pharmacists
  • Certified nursing assistants
  • Long-term care aides
  • Crisis hotline workers

Retail overnight jobs

It’s also really common to work the graveyard shift when you’re in the retail industry. Places like groceries, casinos, convenience stores, online shops, and entertainment venues usually have late night shifts. 

Some of the most common positions include jobs like: 

  • Cashiers or clerks
  • Security guards
  • Stockers
  • Warehouse workers
  • Bartenders and other servers

Manufacturing and utilities 

The manufacturing and utilities industries also offer lots of night shift jobs for people looking to work overnight. Places like power plants and factories are often open late at night, if not 24/7.

People who work in transportation also work at night often. People like train conductors and truck drivers have responsibilities that lead to them working late. 

Other late-night manufacturing positions include roles like: 

  • Assembly line workers
  • Maintenance technicians
  • Plant operators
  • Dispatchers
  • Shipping and receiving personnel 
  • Machine operators
  • Quality control inspectors 

Customer service

Similar to other industries, people are constantly in need of customer service. That’s why 24/7 customer service lines have become so popular. 

For example, call centers are often open for 24 hours a day. People like sales reps, customer service reps, and technical support specialists are on call at all hours. 

Other types of customer service night shift jobs include positions like: 

  • Hotel or motel front desk agents, housekeeping staff, and security guards
  • Delivery service warehouse workers and drivers 
  • Airport and airline staff, baggage handlers, security, ground crew, and ticket agents

Night shift jobs in professional services

The professional services industry also offers these types of night shift hours. People who work in broadcasting, media, and journalism often work late thanks to the 24/7 news cycle. Other areas in this industry include software development and IT, finance, accounting, and law enforcement. 

Those interested in working night shift jobs in professional services have tons of options, such as: 

  • Radio DJs
  • Broadcast news anchors
  • Network admins
  • Programmers
  • Night auditors
  • Investment analysts
  • Police officers
  • Firefighters
  • TV producers
  • Editors and other journalists
  • Cybersecurity specialists
  • Web developers
  • Security guards
  • Paramedics

Part-time night shift jobs

Many industries also offer part-time night shift jobs. Part-time positions allow you to build on your existing skills and boost your income without having to commit to a full-time role. 

Part-time night shift jobs are available in most, if not all, of the industries and areas listed above. Specifically, you might have better luck finding a part-time night shift job in roles like:

  • Pharmacy technician (in healthcare settings or places like CVS Health)
  • Emergency medical dispatcher
  • Nursing assistant
  • Social media moderator
  • Customer service rep
  • Virtual assistant
  • Cashier
  • Delivery food driver
  • Instacart shopper

Creative freelance work can be another worthy part-time night shift job option, since you can work during the night at your own hours. For example, freelance writing, editing, graphic design, and pottery are all different paths that allow you to express your creativity while also diversifying your income. 

Work from home night shift jobs

Although they’re tricky to find, there are work from home night shift jobs that exist. In general, your best bet is likely freelance work, since many freelance work options allow you to work remotely on your own time. 

Other options for work from home night shift jobs include positions like:

  • Graphic designer
  • Software tester
  • Virtual assistant
  • Social media moderator
  • Customer service representative
  • Data analyst
  • Interpreter or translator

Warehouse night shift jobs

One of the most popular types of night shift jobs are warehouse night shift jobs. These include a variety of positions in warehouse settings. 

People who work warehouse night shift jobs usually have roles that fall into one or more of the following areas: 

  • Providing maintenance and support, such as janitorial work, machinery maintenance, and loading and unloading trucks
  • Working directly with products, like packing items, quality control, forklift operation, etc. 
  • Supervising or managing, such as managing inventory or a team of people

Warehouse night shift jobs also offer advantages like opportunities for promotion.

Benefits of Night Shift Jobs

There are definitely some unique benefits to night shift jobs that make them stand out from day shift positions. Some of the most notable benefits of night shift jobs include: 

  • Financial advantages, including pay
  • General flexibility 
  • Opportunities for growth and development 

Financial advantages

Working night shift jobs has financial advantages, even beyond wages. However, pay is a big motivator when it comes to this type of work. The biggest advantage is the premium pay, since the majority of companies offer higher hourly pay for those working the graveyard shift. This increase in pay is usually tied to the fact that people who work the night shift have the inconvenience of a disrupted sleep schedule. 

The other notable financial advantage comes from the fact that there’s not as much competition for night shift jobs. Because later shift positions often result in less candidates, you have a better chance of getting an offer. At the same, you’ll be more likely to progress faster in terms of your career advancement since there’s less competition. 

Flexibility of night shift jobs

There’s also a flexibility to night shift jobs which can translate to an improved work-life balance. For example, when you work the later hours, your weekdays are now free. Although you’ll likely spend much of the weekday sleeping, you still have “extra” time to run errands while the rest of the world is at work. 

If you consider yourself a night owl, finding a good night shift job can actually benefit your energy levels and sleep quality, since you can adjust to your natural circadian rhythm. Plus, working night shifts — which are generally less crowded, quieter, and more relaxed — can make it easier to focus and be productive. Chances are, you won’t be constantly interrupted while doing your work like you could be at a daytime job with lots of coworkers. 

Growth and development opportunities

As mentioned above, because night shift jobs are less common, there’s less competition from applicants and colleagues alike. You’ll have more opportunities for growth and development, and can often progress faster in your career. 

You’ll also grow in your skills and capabilities, as you’ll learn new things working a night shift job. For example, working independently, being self-motivated, and being adaptable are all great skills present in graveyard shift positions. 

There’s also an enhanced sense of camaraderie among night shift job workers, as working together at night fosters community in a different way than in a day shift job. You’re more likely to bond with your coworkers and lean on them for support. 

Challenges of Night Shift Jobs

That’s not to say that there’s no drawback to night shift jobs. There are a few challenges and other things to consider before picking up a new role. Here are some of the downsides you should keep in mind.

Sleep disruption

Perhaps the most obvious drawback of scoring a night shift job is the disruption to your sleep cycle. Everyone has a natural circadian rhythm and working late can disturb your usual cycle. This can lead to feeling tired during the day and having trouble falling asleep.

The long term effects of getting less quality sleep include conditions like:

  • Depression
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Obesity and overweight
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease

Another factor of working a night shift job that affects your sleep quality is working under artificial light. When you’re working at night under artificial light, these conditions can slow your body’s production of melatonin, which only makes things worse. 

Potential safety concerns

There are also some potential safety concerns to consider. One of the main dangers to look out for is the increase in accidents during night shift jobs. In part, being sleep deprived and feeling tired can affect your reaction time and judgment, which can lead to accidents. Although accidents can happen during daytime shifts too, they’re more common at night shift jobs. 

Although it’s not true in every case, working night hours can put you more at risk for violence or being mugged. This is more of a concern if you work alone. 

Lastly, it can be tough finding a safe way to get to work if you can’t drive yourself or don’t have a vehicle. The options for public transportations are extremely limited during the late hours of the night in many places, even if you live in a larger city. 

Other challenges of night shift jobs

Some of the other challenges of working night shift jobs that you might want to consider include the isolation factor of working late hours. For example, you might not be able to spend as much time with your friends and family members if you typically work at night and sleep during the day.  

You might also have trouble with daytime fatigue. After working all night, it’s only natural to feel tired after your shift. This can become problematic when you want to run errands or spend time with other people during the day. 

It can be more difficult to stay productive, too. Many people feel drained and as a result, are unproductive, especially when it comes to the things they like to do for fun.

Why is a night shift so hard?

A night shift can be difficult for many people. For people who have always worked daytime hours and sleep at night, it can be hard adjusting to a completely opposite schedule. Not only can it be difficult adjusting sleep-wise, but also socially. You’ll need to put in dedicated time to spending time with friends and family — perhaps on the weekend — since they’ll likely be working while you’re sleeping and vice versa.

This “reversed” schedule can also lead to more stress, which makes working night shift jobs even more tough. 

Are night shifts unhealthy?

Many people are quick to say night shifts are unhealthy, but health encompasses many aspects of your life. It’s true that there are some health drawbacks when it comes to night shift jobs, such as an increased risk of: 

  • Daytime sleepiness and fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Digestive problems
  • Chronic health conditions

However, it’s complicated because everyone is different. Working a night shift job can affect people on varying levels based on their work environment, genetic makeup, overall health, and lifestyle. 

6 Tips for Working Night Shift Jobs

Because night shift jobs have their advantages and disadvantages, some people have trouble deciding whether or not it’s worth it. If you’re curious about habits that can potentially improve your time working the graveyard shift, you’re in good company

Here are the six best tips for working night shift jobs. 

1. Experiment with meal planning.

One of the aforementioned risks to working night shift jobs is experiencing digestive issues. That’s because people who work at night don’t always eat regular meals and if they do, they’re not always on a regular meal schedule. Because there’s such a lack of food options during the graveyard shift, it can be hard for people to find healthful, nutritious meals. 

However, meal planning can help with this. Try packing your lunches for the week on Sunday or morning morning. That way, they’ll be in the fridge ready for you when you leave for work. You won’t have to try to find open restaurants or drive-thrus. 

Some quick and easy meal plan ideas that are perfect for meal prep include options like:

  • Sandwiches and wraps with a main protein, veggies, and a condiment, sauce, or dressing
  • Pasta salad with veggies and a dressing
  • Protein bowls with a central protein, veggies, rice, and a dressing of your choice
  • Salads, like Mason-jar salads or more hearty salads made with quinoa

You can also prepare breakfast items to take with you on your commute to your night shift drive, like overnight oats, frozen breakfast sandwiches, or wraps you can warm up before you go. 

It’s a good idea to pack some snacks as well, just in case. Healthful snack options could include things like:

  • Roasted seaweed
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Granola bars
  • Mixed nuts
  • Hummus and veggies

Be sure to stay hydrated, too. Using a reusable water bottle can make all the difference. 

2. Continue to be active.

Even though it can be harder when you have a night shift job, try to stay physically active. About 30 minutes per day during the weekdays and weekends is perfect. Physical activity doesn’t have to mean going on a run or going to the gym either. You can be active by doing things like:

  • Stretching
  • Yoga
  • Gardening
  • Walking up and down stairs at work
  • Household chores like vacuuming or laundry 
  • Going on a short walk on your break, before work, or after work

Remember to also soak up as much vitamin D as you can. Once you’re up and moving for your night shift job, try to go outside for a brief walk to get some sunlight. It’ll not only boost your move, but it can help maintain your sleep cycle. 

3. Boost your sleep quality.

Sleep is even more important to consider when working a night shift job. The most critical thing to focus on is your sleep quality. If you don’t get good sleep, there are tons of tips to improve the quality. 

It’s essential to stay on a schedule, even if you work late at night. If you typically sleep during the day and work tonight, be consistent. Try not to switch up your routine throughout the week. This can work wonders for your circadian rhythm. 

As part of your schedule, make sure you have a solid bedtime routine. Instead of scrolling on your phone before bed, try to incorporate some more relaxing tasks, such as: 

  • Reading a book
  • Listening to calming music
  • Taking a hot bath

On top of that, make sure your bedroom is a sanctuary for sleep by giving it a makeover. The goal is to have a cool, dark, quiet environment in which you can sleep peacefully. If daytime noises keep you awake, try earplugs or noise-canceling headphones. You can also install blackout curtains to block any light that might disrupt your sleep. 

Try to steer clear of any stimulants, even while at work. Experts recommend putting a limit on how much alcohol and caffeine you drink since both can affect the quality of your sleep.

5. Don’t lose contact with friends (stay social).

Many people often underestimate the importance of staying social when you have a night shift job. It can be tempting to let relationships fall by the wayside when you work at night and sleep during the day, but try not to let this happen. 

Instead, open up to your friends and family about what your work schedule looks like. That way, everyone can plan events and activities during the hours you’re awake. You can also schedule activities on the days that you don’t work to get some quality time with your loved ones. 

You can also use communication technology and other types of tech to stay connected to friends and family. For example, texting, calling, and video calling are all good options to stay in touch. 

Don’t forget to set boundaries, either. It can be difficult to say no to activities and events — especially ones you’ve already committed to. However, if it’s affecting your sleep quality or you’ve had a long day at work, it’s totally OK to say no. 

6. Enhance your work environment. 

If possible, try to optimize your work environment. Not everyone has the ability to do this as there are tons of different workplace settings, but even making a few tiny changes can improve your work life. 

For example, if you can, change up the lighting. The best option for people who work night shift jobs is dim, warm light. Make sure your work space isn’t cluttered, either. Make sure it’s a clean, organized area so you can better focus. 

Even if you can’t really adjust your work environment, you can still take control in other ways. For example, remember to take breaks every so often. It’s not a good idea to try to “power through” a night shift without any breaks. It’s essential to routinely stretch and walk around. 

Go ahead and plan and prioritize your tasks for the night, too. This helps you from feeling overwhelmed and allows you to set more realistic goals.

Lastly, chatting and building relationships with coworkers can improve your experience working a night shift job exponentially. It boosts your sense of community, makes the shift more fun, and improves teamwork and collaboration on the job. 

How long should you sleep if you work overnight?

The amount of sleep you should get if you work overnight will depend on a person-to-person basis. Generally speaking, most people should aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep during the day if they work during the night. For example, you could sleep anywhere between around 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., depending on when your shift starts. 

However, research has shown that others function just as well on about 6 hours of sleep. The main thing to keep in mind is consistency. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. 

Night Shift Jobs FAQs

If you’re considering taking on a night shift job, it’s only natural for you to have questions. Liek with any decision, it’s important to do some research beforehand to make sure working a graveyard shift is right for you. 

Here are some of the most common FAQs around night shift jobs.

Are nurses allowed to sleep on night shift jobs?

When it comes to nurses being allowed to sleep on night shift jobs, it’ll depend on the employer’s expectations and regulations. In some healthcare settings, nurses are allowed to sleep during night shifts to take a power nap. In other facilities, healthcare workers like nurses aren’t allowed to sleep

If you’re a nurse looking to boost your energy with a nap, don’t sleep more than half an hour — otherwise, you might feel sluggish after waking up. 

How does working the night shift affect the brain?

The main way working a night shift job affects your brain is through your circadian rhythm. This natural sleep rhythm — which dictates your sleep cycle and affects your quality of sleep — can be disrupted by working a night shift job. 

Aside from throwing off your sleep cycle, working later night shift hours can also affect your brain through long-term, chronic conditions like depression and even dementia. However, working nights doesn’t mean you’ll get depression or dementia; studies have only identified an association between working nights and various chronic conditions. 

Why are night shifts called graveyard shifts?

The reason night shifts are often referred to as “graveyard shifts” dates back to the late 1800s. Although many people believe the phrase literally refers to working in a cemetery or graveyard, this isn’t true. The real reason we hear night shifts called graveyard shifts is because workers found working at night to be still and quiet in an almost eerie way. 

The Main Takeaway 

At the end of the day, it’s a good idea to write a 2 weeks’ notice when leaving your current position. Just make sure you practice giving your notice beforehand and have a new job lined up before you announce your departure.

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