Night Shift Nursing: Is it worth it?

Night Shift Nursing: Is it worth it?

If you want to know which is better, nursing night shift or day shift, it could be either. It truly depends on your preferences, especially when it comes to night shift anxiety. However, I have some information that might assist you in making the best decision between nursing night shift or day shift.
There are a few categories that are very different for day shift vs. night shift – which essentially separate the two.

The first and most obvious is the hours in which you will work

Day shifts typically range from about 6:45 in the morning until a little around 7:30 at night. Night shifts cover the time in between overnight. The choice is yours. Are you someone who constantly stays up late? Or are you the type of person who prefers a regular bedtime and enjoying the sunrise? If you are in the middle, just ask yourself if setting an alarm in the morning sounds better or worse than staying up all night. There is your answer. Night shifters must sleep, so count on sleeping most of the following day (which in turn leads to staying up late again the following night). Scheduling will be the biggest obstacle to overcome.

The next issue to discuss is the noise level 

There are more alarms, phones, and call lights during a day shift. If you love chaos and constantly being connected this shift may be for you. Night shift is quieter by nature, because people are sleeping and families are home, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be busy.

The next issue is your plan of care

The entire team is typically at the hospital during the day so much of the care takes place whether you were planning for it or not. You must be a team member when it comes to total care. If you adapt easily to quick changes in plans and are flexible to other people needing access to your patient, day shift might be for you. If you don’t enjoy this type of commotion, stick to night shift; it’s much more controllable in this area.

Another big one is charting

If you love to read up on your patients and do some internal digging to better perform care, consider night shift. With this freedom comes the responsibility to hand off your patients better than you found them to day shift. Day shifters must be open to charting at the most random of times throughout the day, but also have more patient face to face contact to chart about.

Here’s a fun one: skills!

If you love starting IV’s, ambulating, placing catheters, assisting with paracentesis, scopes, etc. then day shift is for you. Most of the hands-on skills you learned in nursing school take place when patients are awake and while the entire team is in the hospital during the day. Night shift typically sees more procedures during emergencies.


This one is simple. When you have more time to chat, catch-up, help each other, and learn about your coworkers, you just simply become closer. Night shift camaraderie is easier than day, not more possible, just easier to come by.

Are you someone who cannot go without food?

If so, you’re nursing night shift, the opportunities to sit down and eat come by much more often during the night. If you don’t mind, and like running around and staying busy, you may prefer day shift.


If you want to be on the same sleep schedule as family and friends, you are a day shifter. If you’re okay being without sleep or having your cycle messed up from a wacky shift schedule one week or another than you were made for nights. Keep in mind, working a night shift Thursday night will put you in perfect shape for staying up late with your friends on Friday!
There you have it, folks, make your own choice.  And hey, either way you still get the chance to catch the sunrise!