The Graveyard Shift: Pros and Cons of...

The Graveyard Shift: Pros and Cons of Working Overnights

by Meghan Brown
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

While the most popular — and most common — workday is the traditional “9 to 5,” this isn’t the only work schedule in existence.  There are many different work schedules, including the overnight shift, which can have benefits for the worker depending on the type of work they do, and the obligations in their personal life.

Often called “third shift,” or occasionally “the graveyard shift,” working overnights doesn’t have to be as dire as the latter implies.  For some people working nights offers flexibility; for others, working overnight is simply part of the job they want to pursue.  Like anything else, working nights isn’t all good or all bad, but there are some important pros and cons to consider when you think about your future career.

Pros to Working the Night Shift

1. Better Pay and Easier to Save

Overnights aren’t the most popular choice, so many night shift jobs pay a premium when hiring in order to attract more candidates. This will, of course, depend on the job and the workplace.  But if you are looking for a way to build your savings quickly, spending some time working nights can help fill your bank account.  Along with a pay bump, it’s also easier to avoid spending too much on entertainment or unnecessary purchases when you are working while most stores are closed.

2. Flexibility for Education or Family

Depending on the job, the overnight shift can be quiet and provide you with a moderate amount of time that you can use for other tasks.  Education is one of the most common examples. Many students in college or university will take on overnight shifts in order to have their days free to attend classes and have the ability to study during quiet times at their night job.  Other people need their days free to accommodate the needs of their family, such as caring for children or other family members.

3.  A Better Commute

It’s not always possible to find a job you love that is also conveniently located a five-minute walk from your home.  One of the advantages to working nights is that you are typically heading to work long after the evening rush hour, and heading home again before the morning rush begins.  This can make an hour-plus rush hour trip into something less than half that time, as well as removing the stress and frustration that a difficult commute can create.

4. Build Your Skills with Additional Responsibilities

Since overnight shifts usually have fewer staff on site compared to the daytime, many night shift workers will wear multiple hats, and have the opportunity to cross-train with multiple responsibilities and tasks.  This can be a great way for younger workers to build their skills quickly with a wider variety of work.  Night shift workers also learn to work independently with minimal supervision, and may have job opportunities that are not available on the day shift.  Even if you don’t want to work the night shift forever, you can take the range of skills you develop and use them to find your dream job.

Cons to the Overnight Shift

1.  Potential for Health Problems

Being a night owl is one thing, but humans are not built for a long-term nocturnal lifestyle.  It is well established that working nights for long periods of time can lead to health problems, and regular night shift workers need to be vigilant about paying attention to their health in order to balance this against their work schedule.  Overnight workers can find themselves unable to sleep adequately during daytime hours, which can lead to moodiness, exhaustion, and difficulty concentrating.

2.  Lack of Social Life

One of the most noticeable impacts from working the night shift is the impact on your social life.  If you are working nights when everyone else is working days, it can make spending time with family and friends much more difficult.  You may have to miss big events like parties or day-long activities that occur during your sleeping hours, and it can be hard to find time for smaller meet-ups.  Even if you do attend an event, you will likely be tired and groggy.

3.  Boredom

The same flexibility that can be useful for a productive activity such as studying can also lead to boredom during your shift, especially if your job involves a lot of time alone without coworkers to talk with.  Depending on the job, you may find yourself with a lot of hours but not much work to do.  This can make the job much less enjoyable, especially for people who thrive on social interaction and keeping busy.

4.  Hard to Advance Your Career

A significant part of career advancement is related to the connections you forge with your coworkers, customers, and managers.  Working nights can reduce your opportunities for networking within your company, as well as make it difficult for you to attend work-related conferences and social events with coworkers.  While missing all the meetings that happen during the day can seem appealing, it also reduces your opportunities to share your ideas and have the higher-ups notice and get to know you.

Ultimately, whether you want to work nights will depend on your personal lifestyle and the job you want to pursue.  The important part to remember is to assess both the good and bad sides before deciding to take on the night shift.



JobCluster. “Working in Night Shifts: To Be or Not To Be.” https://www.jobcluster.com/career-advice/working-in-night-shifts-to-be-or-not-to-be-41

Night Shift Life. “Pros and Cons of Working a Night Shift Job.” https://nightshiftlife.com/pros-and-cons-of-working-a-night-shift-job/

Phillpott, Sion. “The Advantages and Disadvantages of Working Night Shifts.” CareerAddict. https://www.careeraddict.com/10-advantages-and-disadvantages-in-working-night-shifts

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