Hospital patients require round-the-clock care, which means some nurses work overnight shifts and most work 12-hour shifts to ensure there is adequate coverage. Below, we’ll break down some of the differences and similarities between the day shift and night shift, highlighting the benefits of each.
|Time||Day Shift Nurse Danielle||Night Shift Nurse Nick|
|7 AM||Danielle begins her shift by reviewing Nick’s patient charts. He introduces her to the patients and then goes home to get some rest.|
|10 AM||Danielle checks in on patients and continues to assess their vitals.||Sleep|
|1 PM||There’s very little down time during a shift, so Danielle grabs a quick lunch from the cafeteria.||Sleep|
|4 PM||Danielle charting||After running errands before business close, Nick heads to the yoga studio to find his center.|
|7 PM||Danielle hands off the patients to Nick.|
|10 PM||After dinner with her family, Danielle studies for an exam.||Nick charting or checking on a patient|
|1 AM||Sleep||To keep his energy up, Nick drinks plenty of water and eats high-protein snacks.|
|5 AM||Sleep||In between checking on patients, Nick studies notes from his BSN class.|
|Bubble||Another shift change, and the routine begins again.|
Day vs. Night. What’s the Difference?
Due to the less desirable hours, most employees across the nation earn a higher hourly wage for working the night shift than those who work first or second shift. (1)
Opportunities to Learn
With more staff and resources available, nurses who work on the day shift have more opportunities to shadow veteran nurses or receive help with patient care.
“I personally enjoy working night shift. Depending on the area you work, it may be a slower pace and give you a chance to learn more.” – Macy A., LPN
The cafeteria and other meal options are often closed overnight, so night nurses should come to work prepared.
Nurses on the night shift needing to adjust to a new sleep schedule should: (2)
- Hang blackout curtains
- Wear sunglasses on the way home to simulate night
- Keep your sleep routine the same even on off days
Because both shifts start and end after rush hour, neither has to deal with much traffic on the road. Night shift nurses are more likely to get better parking, though.
The average worker in the U.S. wastes 42 hours per year sitting in traffic during rush hour commutes. (3)
If you’re interested in advancing your career, you need a university that’s as on-call as you are. Enroll in King University’s online RN to BSN program, which provides the flexibility nurses like you need to complete your education while balancing your busy life.