What is 1st, 2nd, and 3rd shift? and Which is the Best? - Nurse Money Talk (2023)

The hours you work can have a big impact on your pay, health, and personal life.

There are three shifts in many industries- 1st, 2nd, and 3rd shift.

Nurses often have a choice between which shift they work.

Before you decide which one is right for you, let’s explore them.

What is 1st, 2nd, and 3rd shift? Day shift, also called 1st shift, is usually 7am-3pm. The afternoon or evening shift, also called 2nd shift, is usually 3pm-11pm. Night shift, also called 3rd shift, is usually 11pm-7am.

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What is 1st, 2nd, and 3rd shift?

As we stated earlier 1st, 2nd and 3rd shift is just the breakup of a 24 hour work day divided into 3.

(Video) What is 1st Shift, 2nd Shift, and 3rd shift? Which is Better? | Best Shifts for Work

In this instant it’s 7am to 3pm, 3pm to 11pm, and 11pm to 7am (respectively).

Which shift is the best?

While each shift has its advantages and disadvantages, I prefer 1st shift.

The 1st shift is the easiest shift for the body to become accustomed to because you’re working during the day and sleeping at night.

In addition to being the easiest shift on the body, 1st shift also allows you to have more time with your loved ones.

If you have children, they will be in school while you work, leaving the evenings open for valuable family time.

Even if you don’t have children, 1st shift gives you more free time in the evenings to have an active social life.

Pro Tip:
It’s important to note that while I’m a big fan of the 1st shift, many people are not morning people.

Therefore some people will do better working the 2nd shift (3pm-11pm).

(Video) 10+ Pros and Cons of 12-Hour Shifts | I LOVE and HATE Them

The Pros and Cons of the Different Shifts

Here are the pros and cons of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd shift.

What are the pros and cons of 1st shift?


  • It’s easier to fall asleep at night when it’s dark.
  • If you have children, you can work while they’re in school.
  • You can be home to eat dinner with your family.
  • You won’t miss sporting events and other special occasions that typically occur in the evening hours.
  • You’re less likely to develop health problems that are associated with working other shifts.
  • You have more support from doctors and other staff during the day.


  • If you’re not a morning person, you won’t enjoy waking up early to get ready for work.
  • If you have children, you’ll have to take time off from work to attend daytime events.
  • You’ll need to take personal time for appointments that can only be tended to during the day.
  • Parking, especially if you work at a hospital, may be very limited during the day.
  • Patients may have visitors during the day that you’ll need to work around while you perform tasks.
  • You’re more likely to have management hovering over you during the day.
  • You’re more likely to encounter The Joint Commission (JCAHO) by working 1st shift.

What are the pros and cons of 2nd shift?


  • If you have small children, you can be home with them during the day while your significant other works so you don’t have to hire a sitter, which can get expensive (source).
  • You can attend school events, appointments, and other things that normally occur during the day without having to take personal time.
  • You still get to bed at a decent hour and are able to sleep when it’s dark.


  • You won’t be home for dinner with your family in the evenings you work.
  • You’ll miss out on evening events if you don’t take personal time.
  • You’re often thought of as the “go-between” for shifts and may feel like you aren’t getting the proper recognition you deserve.
  • You have to work with both day shift and night shift nurses and staff which means you have to learn the names and work habits of double the amount of people.

What are the pros and cons of 3rd shift?


  • Night shift nurses usually get paid more than other shifts.
  • If you’re a night owl, you’ll love being able to stay up all night and sleep during the day.
  • There are less traffic and better parking for 3rd shift workers.
  • You can be home with your children during the day or can take them to and from school if they’re school-aged. However, doing this may make an already difficult sleep schedule even harder.
  • There’s often a great camaraderie among night shift nurses.
  • You’ll have minimal contact with management, administrators, and JCAHO.


  • The sleep schedule is very difficult to get used to. Some people are never able to adjust to it.
  • Night shift workers are more likely to develop serious health problems like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers (source).
  • Your social life may be impacted, especially if you have a family or a serious relationship. Working opposite schedules from your loved ones doesn’t leave much time for interaction.
  • It may be hard to adjust to a “normal” schedule on your days off and you may feel tired all the time.

Related Article: Tips for Nurses Who Work the 3rd Shift

What jobs/industries offer each shift?

Here’s a list of just some of the jobs available for the different shifts we discussed.

(Video) Which Shift is Better? | DAY SHIFT vs. NIGHT SHIFT NURSING

1st Shift:

  • Nurse
  • Teacher
  • Machine operator
  • Car salesman
  • Call center representative
  • Bank teller
  • Retail manager
  • Electrician
  • Construction worker
  • Accountant

2nd Shift:

  • Nurse
  • Hotel clerk
  • Restaurant host/hostess
  • Assembly line worker
  • Engineer
  • Grocery store cashier
  • Warehouse associate
  • Rehabilitation specialist
  • HVAC technician
  • School custodian

3rd Shift:

  • Nurse
  • Security officer
  • Housekeeper
  • Air traffic controller
  • Sonographer
  • Police officer
  • Firefighter
  • EMT
  • Taxi driver
  • Home health aide

Apply to Available Shift Jobs

Now that you know the differences between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd shift jobs, you can start looking for and applying to available jobs TODAY.

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While each shift has its pros and cons, 1st shift is the easiest one to become accustomed to.

Once you’re on a shift, you’ll likely stay on that shift for awhile.

(Video) Committee on Health and Human Services - Information Hearing - 03/07/23

Switching between shifts can be hard on the body and can make it more difficult to bond with coworkers.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is 1st shift?

    The first (1st) shift typically starts at 7am and ends at 3pm. Though some companies might use an 8am to 4pm time slot.

  2. What hours is 2nd shift?

    The second (2nd) shift typically starts at 3pm and will end at 11pm.

  3. What hours is 3rd shift?

    The third shift typically starts at 11pm and will end at 7am.

  4. What are the 3 shifts?

    The three shifts are 1st shift (7am-3pm), 2nd shift (3pm-11pm), and 3rd shift (11pm-7am).

  5. Which is better 1st or 2nd shift?

    It really depends on the person. Morning people might prefer the 1st shift, while those who like to sleep in later might prefer the 2nd shift.

  6. Is 2nd shift better than 3rd shift?

    It will depend on the person and their family schedule. While 3rd shift might pay more, there’s also negative health consequences associated with it.

  7. How many hours are in a shift?

    Typically a shift is equal to an 8 hour work day.

    (Video) A typical NURSE SCHEDULE | days off, shift details, & more!

  8. Does 3rd shift pay more?

    For many professions (for example health care workers like nurses) there is a shift differential paid out to those who work the 3rd shift (also called graveyard or night shift).

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Which shift is better to work as a nurse? ›

The night shift can be significantly easier to start with for new nurses. It doesn't have the overwhelming stress of many patients and doctors going in and out. On the contrary, the night shift will enable you to learn at a slower pace.

What is 1st shift vs 2nd shift vs 3rd shift? ›

These three shifts typically last 8 hours and are called, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd shift. 1st Shift usually takes place between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. 2nd Shift is worked between 5 p.m. and 1 a.m. 3rd Shift typically takes place between the hours of 12 a.m. and 8 a.m.

What is 1st 2nd and 3rd shift nursing? ›

What is 1st, 2nd, and 3rd shift? Day shift, also called 1st shift, is usually 7am-3pm. The afternoon or evening shift, also called 2nd shift, is usually 3pm-11pm. Night shift, also called 3rd shift, is usually 11pm-7am.

Which work shift is best? ›

So, what is the best shift to work? For most, the morning shift (approximately 7am-3pm) is best as it allows for a productive workday whilst not sabotaging time away from your loved ones. It is least likely to negatively impact your health as gaining adequate sleep and vitamin D is achievable for most.

Why do night shift nurses make more money? ›

Earn a higher salary

Many hospitals offer more money to night shift nurses than day shift nurses. This is because the irregular hours of night shifts may be less desirable, in general, to job candidates. If you want a higher paycheck, you might consider working on the night shift more often.

What is the healthiest shift work schedule? ›

In general, 8-hour shifts are preferable to 12-hour shifts. Circadian physiology suggests that morning shifts should begin no earlier than 8:00 am for the physiological best fit to circadian rhythmicity.

Is working 3rd shift Worth It? ›

Earn a higher salary.

One of the top reasons to work third shift is that it allows you to earn more short- and long-term income. Many companies offer shift differential, or more pay, for working hours outside of first shift.

Why second shift is the best? ›

You've got plenty of time. Plus, the stores are typically less crowded, making your task smoother and easier. Second shift schedules can also be incredibly helpful for those pursuing other life goals, like a second job or education. Having mornings open is perfect for class schedules and other responsibilities.

Why third shift is the best? ›

For many, it's just unnatural, sleeping while the world buzzes, and working while the world sleeps. But for millions of Americans, there are quite a few reasons why people choose the graveyard shift: emotional and financial benefits, privacy, less traffic, and more focus just to name a few.

Does 2nd shift pay more? ›

Higher pay.

Second shift positions typically pay more because they come with a better pay package that includes shift differential. At Schneider, for example, we offer $1.25 per hour more during the week and $2.00 per hour more on weekends to associates who work second shift versus first.

Is it hard to work 3rd shift? ›

Working third shift is really hard. It's very mentally draining and people around you tend to be grumpier to work around, because everyone would rather be in bed,” they said.

Is it better to work nights or days? ›

Day Shift Is Better for Your Health

Yes, all shift workers are at risk of Shift Work Sleep Disorder (SWSD), but working night shift is a little worse because of the higher chance of sleep deprivation.

What is the hardest shift to work? ›

24-hour shifts are the toughest, and least common, of all shift types. Fire departments are the main ones who implement a 24-hour shift. Surprisingly, many doctors are on a 24-hour shift as well. The staple, though, of a 24-hour shift is allotted sleep time.

Is second shift better than first? ›

Working during the second shift allows you to work with people from both the first shift and the third shift, exposing you to a larger variety of people. More people may see your abilities and the value you provide to the company. As a result, this may help you advance into a leadership opportunity more easily.

Does shift work age you? ›

Recent research showed the brains of workers who'd done 10 years of night shifts had aged by an extra six-and-a-half years. They couldn't remember as much or think so quickly.

Are night nurses worth it? ›

One of the biggest benefits of hiring a night nurse is that parents get the sleep they need for a full postpartum recovery. “This is especially important for people who suffer from mental health issues, as sleep is correlated to well-being,” says Antunes.

What setting do nurses make the most money? ›

Highest Paid Nursing Jobs:
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse – $120,000.
  • General Nurse Practitioner – $118,000.
  • Critical Care Nurse – $118,000.
  • Certified Nurse Midwife – $114,000.
  • Informatics Nurse – $102,000.
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist – $95,000.
  • Nurse Educator – $82,000.
  • Legal Nurse Consultant – $81,000.
Dec 5, 2022

How hard is night shift nursing? ›

Working at night opposes the body's natural circadian rhythms. As a result, some night shift nurses have difficulty achieving consistent, sufficient, and satisfying sleep. Even if there is substantial time to sleep during the day, the body often finds it difficult to fall asleep during hours when the sun is out.

At what age should you stop working night shifts? ›

For ageing employees, night work reduces sleep quality and recovering from demanding shifts takes more time. Based on new research results, the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health recommends providing employees over 50 years of age with better opportunities to reduce night shifts and long hours.

What are the negatives of night shifts? ›

Night shift work disrupts the body's circadian rhythms, or 24-hour internal “clock” that controls sleep-wake cycles. It increases the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Studies have shown that eating at night, as many nightshift workers do, impairs the body's ability to process sugar, or glucose.

What should I eat on shifts? ›

Incorporating healthy fats and foods high in protein or fibre to your meals, will also help you feel fuller for longer and keep cravings at bay. These could include lean meats, fish, cottage cheese, eggs, nuts and seeds, avocado, yogurt, baked beans, chickpeas, lentils, wholemeal bread, brown rice or pasta.

Why does 3rd shift get paid more? ›

Working the night shift comes with its own detriments and risks, including fatigue, stress, and a higher risk of injury. For that reason, night shift workers and other workers working a less-than-desirable shift are known to be paid additional compensation called a shift differential.

What time should I sleep if I work 3rd shift? ›

The goal is to get the daily recommended amount of sleep for adults (7-9 hours). If your shift runs from 11pm – 7am, maybe set your sleep schedule to 9am – 5pm or split it to 9am – 2pm and 6pm – 9pm to get some work done during the day.

Is working second shift worth it? ›

Work-Life Balance Benefits

One of the biggest benefits of the second shift is the added flexibility it gives to your schedule. If you're a parent, working the second shift offers several childcare benefits. If you're home during the daytime hours, you may not need to spend money on daycare or babysitters.

Why night shifts are better? ›

The reasons to work night shift include items like increased pay, reduced competition on the job, coworkers who can relate, greater vacation flexibility, autonomy, less distractions and an ability to run errands when everyone else is working.

Does working 2nd shift affect your health? ›

2nd shift hours can cause physical health issues.

Some shift workers may develop poor diets, while others may develop higher levels of triglycerides (the main constituents of body fat in humans) than day workers.

How do you survive a second shift? ›

Tips for Balancing 2nd Shift with a Family
  1. Enjoy the morning with the kids while getting them ready for school.
  2. Take care of chores like grocery shopping during the day. ...
  3. Share more of the family workload. ...
  4. Carve out a healthy second shift sleep schedule and stick to it. ...
  5. Make the most of weekends.
Sep 8, 2022

Does night shift make more money? ›

You'll Make More Money

If you're looking for a way to boost your income, working a night shift may be the perfect solution. While most people are asleep, businesses and factories are still running, and that means there's a demand for workers to cover the overnight hours.

Why do you love night shift nursing? ›

Night shift does provide some peaceful moments, when you can connect with your colleagues, personally and professionally. You might even be able to grab a snack at the nurses station or do a quick phone check, without (too much) worry about who's watching you.

How do you survive 3rd shift? ›

Cluster night shifts together.
  1. Cluster night shifts together. It's helpful to cluster your shifts together and stick to a night work sleep schedule even on your off days. ...
  2. Stick to a routine. ...
  3. Get your household on board. ...
  4. Practice good sleep hygiene. ...
  5. Prioritize sleep. ...
  6. Eat healthy. ...
  7. Stay hydrated. ...
  8. Nap effectively.
Jul 7, 2020

Why afternoon shift is the best? ›

Afternoon shift allows many shift workers to manage their sleep patterns better (second shift workers get more sleep than either day shift or night shift) so they often feel better on this schedule than on a night shift schedule.

How much is shift pay? ›

As shift allowance is a voluntary incentive, employers do not have a specific rate of pay that they must offer. As such, the rates of pay for shift allowance will vary between organisation, sector and location and could be anything from 5-20%, time and a half, or in some cases, double time.

What are normal 2nd shift hours? ›

What is Second Shift? Traditionally, second shift are the hours after 8 am – 5 pm. Usually, second shift employees clock in between 4 pm – 5 pm and clock out around 1 am.

Should I sleep before 3rd shift? ›

A nap taken before the night shift is called a prophylactic nap. This type of nap is long, usually lasting for a few hours. During a long nap, the brain can progress into the deeper stages of sleep and, as a result, can reduce the buildup of pressure for sleep.

Do you sleep before first night shift? ›

Before your first night shift, it's a good idea to try to sleep during the day so you are not awake for a full 24-hour period. Some people may find that staying up late the night before the first shift helps to get them into a routine.

How do I train my body to work 3rd shift? ›

Changing Your Sleep Schedule For the Night Shift

That is, rather than sleeping for a few hours at times scattered throughout the day, try to sleep in one long stretch as you would at night. 2 Your body will establish a new circadian rhythm, allowing you to be awake during the night and asleep during the day.

How night shift affects your brain? ›

What do night shifts do to the brain? Night shift work has also been shown to raise the risks of mental health issues such as nervousness, irritability, and anxiety as consequences of stressful working conditions. Loss of quality sleep has been attributed to the prevalence of these ailments.

Can nurses choose their shifts? ›

One of the perks of being a nurse, at any degree level, is that schedules can be flexible. Many nursing roles are 24-hour jobs, which means nurses can work various shifts and hours… patient care does not always end at five o'clock! Choosing to work alternate shifts is a choice that is available to many RNs.

What is the least popular shift? ›

Second and third shift positions tend to be less popular than a typical day shift; however, there are plenty of benefits of taking the shift less traveled. Working at an unconventional time can have positive effects on your work life balance – if you take advantage of them.

What is the busiest shift? ›

The second shift, also known as the swing shift, generally runs from afternoon to around midnight. The timing of the shift can vary dramatically, and start times can be as early as 11 a.m. or as late as 5 p.m. In many industries, especially hospitality, this can often be the busiest shift of all.

What makes a good shift? ›

Describe a good shift

Because a great shift is less about having high numbers of staff – and more about effective organisation of tasks, time management, and regular breaks to ensure the team is kept sharp, hydrated, and happy.

What is 3rd shift in a hospital? ›

First Shift (Day Shift): Start time between 5:00 AM and 9:30 AM (Straight Time Rate) Second Shift (Swing): Start time between 9:31 AM and 8:00 PM (Straight Time Rate. +17.3%) Third Shift (Graveyard): Start time between 8:01 PM and 4:59 AM (Straight Time Rate. +31.4%)

Should I go to first shift? ›

First Shift

If you're naturally an early riser and want to have free time in the evening and night, this is usually your best bet. Or if you have children and need to tend to them before and after school, first shift is a good option.

Do night shifts make you look older? ›

Ten years or more of rotating night shift work was associated with 20% decreased odds of healthy aging. This association was consistently observed for the individual component of healthy aging.

Do you age faster if you work more? ›

Over time, and at high enough levels, the stress from your job can cause you to age faster physically. This has been verified in a number of different studies, including one study from researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Do people who work night shift age faster? ›

Abstract. Sleep deprivation and the consequent circadian clock disruption has become an emergent health question being associated with premature aging and earlier chronic diseases onset. Night-shift work leads to circadian clock misalignment, which is linked to several age-related diseases.

Why do nurses choose night shift? ›

Even with challenges, many nurses prefer the night shift because it helps them maintain flexibility in their personal lives while positively impacting their patients' well-being. Ultimately, working a night shift can be a rewarding experience for many nurses.

Do nurses prefer 8 or 12-hour shifts? ›

Many clinical nurses prefer 12-hour shifts despite the controversy over shifts longer than the eight-hour standard, which first emerged in the 1970s. The ill effects of long working hours in health care have been well documented, including performance errors and adverse events related to fatigue.

What kind of RN is more likely to work regular hours? ›

Nurses who work in offices, schools, and other places that do not provide 24-hour care are more likely to have regular business hours.

Is Day Shift or night shift better? ›

The day shift is the body clock-friendly shift, where there is always help available and there is a better chance of showing off your skills to management. Whereas, night shift typically brings financial reward, is great for the night owls and you'll never get stuck in traffic again.

How do nurses survive the first night shift? ›

12 Ways to Thrive as a Night Shift Nurse
  1. Make Sleep a Priority. ...
  2. Stick With a Sleep Schedule. ...
  3. Keep Moving at Night. ...
  4. Keep a Consistent Meal Schedule. ...
  5. Plan on a Healthy Snack for Energy. ...
  6. Stay Hydrated. ...
  7. Plan Ahead. ...
  8. Enjoy Your Night Shift Colleague's Company.

Do night shift nurses get naps? ›

While a 30-minute nap can help you to feel more alert during an 8-hour night shift, a longer nap may be more useful if you work an extended night shift of 12 hours or more. Rotating 12-hour, day-night shift systems have been increasingly used for nurses in hospitals and caregivers in nursing homes.

Does night shift make you older? ›

Ten years or more of rotating night shift work was associated with 20% decreased odds of healthy aging. This association was consistently observed for the individual component of healthy aging. Overall, the observed association did not differ substantially by age, BMI, and other lifestyle factors.

Do most nurses work 3 12s? ›

Do Nurses Work 3 Days a Week? Many nurses work just 3 days a week. Although it seems like a pretty relaxed and manageable schedule, they work 12-hour shifts on each of those days. Those long shifts can be draining and taxing on the nurse's mental and physical health—it's far from an easy schedule.

What are the pros and cons of 8-hour shifts? ›

With an 8-hour shift, work schedules tend to be more consistent, and each workday ends earlier. This helps create a work routine that is more regular and stable. The main drawback of an 8-hour shift is that you get fewer days off and have to come into work more often.

What is the most stressful RN job? ›

The most stressful nursing jobs include ICU nurse, ER nurse, and NICU nurse. In these roles, nurses work in an intense environment with high stakes. They manage emergency situations and care for critically ill patients. Other stressful nursing jobs include OR nursing, oncology nursing, and psychiatric nursing.

What type of RN makes the most? ›

The Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist consistently ranks as the highest-paid nursing career. That is because Nurse Anesthetists are highly skilled Registered Nurses who work closely with medical staff during medical procedures that require anesthesia.

What RN makes the most? ›

The 10 Highest Paid Nursing Jobs in 2023
  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist – $202,000.
  • Nursing Administrator – $120,000.
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse – $120,000.
  • General Nurse Practitioner – $118,000.
  • Critical Care Nurse – $118,000.
  • Certified Nurse Midwife – $114,000.
  • Informatics Nurse – $102,000.
Dec 5, 2022

Why are night shifts so hard? ›

Since night shift workers get most of their sleep during the day, their sleep runs against the body's 24-hour clock—also known as the circadian rhythm. This internal clock responds to indications of light and dark and sends out signals that keep us awake during the day and asleep at night.

Is third shift worth it? ›

One of the top reasons to work third shift is that it allows you to earn more short- and long-term income. Many companies offer shift differential, or more pay, for working hours outside of first shift.


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