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Working Overnight Tips

Updated on March 17, 2012

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If you are considering working an overnight shift either short term or long term here are some tips for surviving them. I have personally worked overnight shifts at the time of this article for over three years straight now. There are many pro's and con's to weigh before you decide if this is the lifestyle for you.


1) Premium pay - Most employers will pay extra for people who work the night shifts. This is because it's an undesirable shift in many cases and is harder to fill with employee's. This is a good way to make some extra cash pretty quick if you are in need of it.

2) Less supervision - Lets face it who likes their boss always watching over your back. I'm not saying this is the case but most of the time people on night crews are more experienced people since they work mostly as a skeleton crew. Due to the expertise that they present they are trusted to run their shifts on their own.

3) More time during the day - This one can both be a pro and yet a con at the same time. It all depends on your sleep habits but if you follow my suggestions it can prove to be a positive.


1) Change in sleep habits - One thing I hate the most about working overnights and especially for such a long time is my sleep habits. I have trouble on my nights off actually sleeping which makes me feel bad because I can't sleep with my spouse. Which is another downside to working overnights, you feel like you spend less time with your family in ways that you want to. I have tried to force myself to stay awake throughout the day to be able to fall asleep at night with my wife but usually I just end up crashing hard still early in the evening. Then there are the times when you develop an insomnia and can't sleep for days or only take short hour or so naps at most. Needless to say overnights can really throw your day/night activities out of whack.

2) Skeleton Crews - I personally enjoy working with less people at night as I'm the type of person who prefers to stay a bit to myself. However if even one person does not show up for their shift it can really throw the work load out of proportion. At the place I work during the day there is normally anywhere from 12-15 people on at about the same time plus 2-3 managers. During the night it is 4 crew people and 1 manager and 5 crew on the weekends. Each of us has enough work already to fill our night and if a team member does not show then our workload is increased by about 33%.

3) No real days off - Think about it say you work a 5 day workweek and have Monday and Thursday off. You wake up Monday/Thursday mornings knowing you have nothing to do for that day work wise. If you work overnights and have Monday night into Tuesday morning off well your time off is kind of in the middle of the night. It doesn't really allow you much to do on your time off. Not to mention your actually working all 7 days of the week. Think about it your Monday night off your working Monday morn 12am to 6am in my case and still going back Tuesday night. Work Wensday night through Thursday morning and back on Friday, Saturday, Sunday through Monday morning again.

Some Survival Tips

Here are some tips that I have developed for making those overnight shifts more bearable. First thing is let others know you are working overnight shifts and let them know your sleep schedule. If you worked normal day shifts you wouldn't appreciate someone showing up or calling at 2am to spend time with you or chat on the phone. This will help you also still enjoy uninterrupted sleep. As I mentioned before you CAN have more time during the day. This idea may or may not suit your sleeping desire but for myself I prefer to try to break up my sleep schedule between the morning and evening. This way I can still get things accomplished during the day and spend time with family and friends. I get out of work at 6am and sleep from about 7 til 11am. Then spend from 11am til 6pm taking care of my normal day to day business. Then go back to bed from about 6pm til 9pm to be back at work by 10pm. Some people however are just not able to do this and prefer to sleep a full 7-8 hours straight. I have heard both sides as to they prefer sleeping either in the morning after work or at night before work. My personal opinion to this option is sleeping in the morning. I have known many individuals who prefer sleeping towards the evening and it causes one problem. They wake up and are still drowsy, notice its dark outside and feel that urge to sleep at night and fall back asleep, this is true I have tried it. One thing to consider also is if you are able to try to work five days in a row with two off in a row. This will provide you a well needed break because it can seem never ending.

Another good point to make is be experienced in what you are doing and know how to do more positions. In the event that someone does not show for their shift as I have pointed out the workload can become unbearable. It is very difficult to find someone on short notice to work a night shift chances are they are unprepared for it and will not work it and as I have said its an undesirable shift by many employee's. Pace yourself develop a plan to accomplish all necessary tasks for the night.

I hope this helps you decide if overnight shifts are for you. All in all they are not bad just different.

What are your tips, suggestions or experience working overnights?

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