Healthcare is a 24-hour operation. Luckily, that doesn’t mean that you’re expected to work 24 hours at a time, but rather choose between two distinct shifts: the day shift or the night shift. Not sure which is right for you? Let’s find out!
- Differences between day shift and night shift
- Pros and cons of day shifts
- Pros and cons of night shifts
- Day shift vs night shift: things to consider
- ✨BONUS ✨Frequently asked questions
Day Shift vs Night Shift: What’s Better for You?
Differences between day shift and night shift
The biggest (and most obvious) difference between the day shift and night shift is the work hours. Depending on the hospital or facility’s needs, you may work an eight, 10, or 12-hour shift.
Typically, day shift nurses and allied health professionals clock in around 7 A.M. and clock out around 7 P.M., give or take an hour or two. On the flip side, night shift nurses and allied health professionals usually start when the day shift ends and continues until the morning. A common schedule for night workers might be 7 P.M. to 7 A.M. Each shift has its pros and cons (stay tuned for those), but it really comes down to what works best for you, your lifestyle, and your internal clock.
Another key difference between the two shifts for healthcare professionals is the job responsibilities. While day shift nurses and allied health travelers often experience a busier, more fast-paced environment, night shift nurses and allied health professionals manage a quieter, though still demanding, workplace.
During the day shift, you may be more involved in implementing patient care plans, education, and procedures, as well as communicating more with doctors, management, and patients’ families. Regardless of if you’re a night shift nurse or allied health worker, your primary role is to monitor patients overnight, promptly attending to any changes in a patient’s condition. Healthcare professionals working the night shift may also perform necessary medical procedures, administer medication, and ensure patient comfort throughout the night. Although the dynamics differ based on the time of day, both shifts play a crucial role in direct patient care.
When you walk into a hospital during the day, you’ll find it bustling with all types of healthcare professionals including doctors, clinical nurse specialists, nursing students, technicians, physical therapists, and more. But when the sun goes down, it can feel a little different.
Oftentimes, the night shift staff is smaller and includes fewer specialists on-site. Instrumental in ensuring patients receive round-the-clock care, night shift workers are primed to handle any emergency situations and hold down the fort until daylight.
Pros and cons of day shifts
☀️Healthier work-life balance
☀️More opportunities to learn and get involved in the action
☀️Increased patient outcomes
☀️Ability to maintain a normal circadian rhythm
☀️Chance to build strong relationships with patients
☀️Increased patient load
☀️Higher stress levels
☀️Heavy traffic commutes
☀️Waking up early
Pros and cons of night shifts
🌙More calm, peaceful working environment
🌙Option to spend your day how you want
🌙Potential shift differential pay
🌙Strong sense of camaraderie with night shift co-workers
🌙Quicker and easier commute
🌙Disrupted circadian rhythm
🌙Reduced social life
🌙Increased risk of health problems
🌙Decreased access to support services
🌙Less sunlight exposure
Day shift vs night shift: things to consider
Before you set your heart on which shift you want to work, take time to consider your family, social life, and career goals. Thinking about these different parts of your life may impact which healthcare shift is right for you.
Working as a medical professional is an incredibly rewarding career, but it can be tricky to manage family life. With day shift nursing or allied health work, your schedule might align more traditionally with your family’s routine allowing you to be there for dinner, playtime, and tucking your kids into bed.
Alternatively, night shift nursing or allied health work could mean you miss out on family meals, sports games, and school drop offs. Either way, life as a traveling healthcare professional is a delicate balancing act of managing professional responsibilities while ensuring your present for cherished family moments.
Do you consider yourself a morning person or a night person? Your answer could tell you exactly which allied health or nursing shift you would thrive in.
Morning people tend to be more alert and productive in the mornings, making the day shift a perfect fit for you. Conversely, night owls may perform better when the sun goes down and may be better suited for a night shift. The key is understanding your bodily clock and recognizing when you’re at your best.
Plus, with day shift nursing or allied health schedules, your social activities might match up more with the “standard” societal schedule, making it easier for you to plan outings with your friends, attend family gatherings, or participate in community events. Maintaining a social life may get more complicated with a night shift. Your awake hours will be when most others are asleep and vice versa, leading to potential feelings of loneliness.
Lastly, choosing between the day or night shift can substantially depend on your healthcare career goals. Generally, day shifts may provide more opportunities for learning, networking, and career advancement since you’ll likely be working during peak business hours where support teams and management are available.
If you’re focused on gaining unique experiences, working night shifts can offer a different set of challenges that can enhance your problem-solving skills and mental health resilience. Even better, some hospitals and facilities may offer higher pay rates for night shifts. So, when deciding which shift to work, make sure your decision aligns with what you want to achieve in your career.
Frequently asked questions
When it comes to night shift nursing and allied health work, how can I adjust my body to sleeping during the day?
Adjusting your body to a nocturnal schedule can be tough but it’s doable with a few strategies. The first step is to create a dark and quiet sleeping environment during the day. Pro tip: using blackout curtains and earplugs are game changers.
Next, try to maintain a consistent sleep-wake schedule, even on your days off, to help your body adjust naturally. Avoid exposure to daylight as you’re getting ready to sleep and if you’re having trouble falling asleep, consider using aids like a sound machine or eye mask for some quality sleep.
Can I switch between day and night shifts?
It may be possible for travel nurses and allied health travelers to switch between day and night shifts, but it will depend on your travel contract, as well as the facility’s needs. Keep in mind that switching between day and night shifts can have an impact on your physical and mental health, but if that’s what feels right for you, then chat with your Fusion Medical Staffing recruiter to see if that’s an option.
Day shift vs night shift: which is easier?
When comparing day shift and night shift, you may find one is easier for you than the other and this largely has to do with morning people vs night people. If you’re your best you in the morning, day shift nursing or allied health work may be less of a challenge than if you were forcing yourself to stay awake for a night shift, and the same is true for people who work better at nighttime. While some may prefer working standard daytime hours, others may flourish with a nontraditional work schedule.
Whether you’re an early bird or nighthawk, the decision to work day shifts or night shifts is a deeply personal one. It’s all about knowing your own rhythm and understanding when you’re most alert and productive. Maybe you’re an early riser who’s raring to go with the sunrise or perhaps you’re a nocturnal creature who finds peace and focus in the quiet of the night. Take the time to consider what fits your lifestyle, your health, and your work-life balance.