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Considering Working the Overnight Shift? Here's What You Need to Know

By Maurie Backman – Sep 12, 2019 at 10:48AM

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The graveyard shift isn't for everyone, but it does have its advantages.

Many people maintain a work schedule that's similar to the classic nine-to-five: They come to work in the morning and leave at some point in the late afternoon or evening. Other folks, meanwhile, have the reserve schedule -- they sleep during the day and work overnight.

If you're considering the graveyard shift, you should know that there are several benefits to going this route. But you'll also need to recognize the drawbacks involved.

Benefits of working the overnight shift

There are plenty of good reasons to sign up to work the overnight shift. First, chances are, the job at hand will be less hectic. For example, if you're in customer service, you're less likely to have people calling with complaints at 3 a.m. than at 3 p.m. That could, in turn, make for less stress while you're at work.

Man typing on laptop with dark background

Image source: Getty Images.

Furthermore, by taking the overnight shift, you might get paid more. Because that shift is generally less desirable, many companies pay employees who work it a considerably higher rate. That could, in turn, improve your quality of life, help you build savings, or assist you in paying off debt.

Additionally, by working the overnight shift, you'll get more flexibility during the day. That could be key if you have children you want to take to or pick up from school, and it's certainly helpful in terms of scheduling things like doctor and home maintenance appointments.

Finally, if you're commuting to an actual office, chances are you'll have an easier trip to deal with if you're working the overnight shift. And if you hate sitting in traffic, avoiding rush hour is a perk worth considering.

Drawbacks of working the overnight shift

On the other hand, the overnight shift can be a challenge to your health. When your sleep schedule is backward, it can be difficult to self-regulate and get enough hours of shut-eye. And inadequate sleep can not only compromise your performance at work but also make it difficult for you to function in general.

Another thing to consider is that in most cases, the overnight shift is less busy than the daytime shift. That's a good thing if you're lazy, but less good if you get bored easily and are actually looking to stay occupied while on the clock.

Finally, working the overnight shift could make it more difficult to maintain a social life. Chances are, your friends won't want to meet for early-morning breakfasts when your shift ends; rather, they'll be getting together for happy hour or dinner when you're either sleeping, getting ready for work, or first arriving at the office. And all of that missing out could diminish your happiness on a whole.

Is the overnight shift right for you?

If you're considering working the overnight shift, think about advantages and pitfalls of doing so, and decide what's most important to you. If money is paramount and the overnight shift pays more, it may be worth messing up your internal clock for a bit to boost your paycheck. On the other hand, if you value your social life and sleep, the day shift may be the better choice.

Remember, too, that you don't have to commit to the overnight shift forever, and that it may be a good way to get your foot in the door somewhere. If you use that time to gain experience, you might be able to transfer to a different shift that better suits your schedule.

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