Day Shift vs. Night Shift Nursing: Which Is Right for You? 987839088534212 [9:30 AM] Katie Iglewski

Throughout your time in nursing school, you’ve heard plenty of stories regarding both night-shift and day-shift nursing. Now that you’re a brand new nurse, you’re left wondering, “Is night shift easier than day shift?”

It depends.

Maybe you enjoy staying up late, and powering through working overnight is a piece of cake for you. Or maybe you prefer the hustle and bustle of the daylight hours.

Understanding the differences — from available opportunities to pay to balancing family life — can help a nurse best determine if the day shift or night shift is better.

Learn everything you need to know about working as a nurse during the night shift vs. day shift.


Table of Contents



Is Night Shift or Day Shift Better as a Nurse?

It’s tough to say if working as a nurse on the night shift or day shift is better because it depends on your preferences.

While some nurses thrive in the quieter and often slower-paced environment of the night shift, others struggle to stay away through the night and find it difficult to perform their best working night shift.

The same goes for working the day shift.

Some nurses, especially newer nurses, might find it overwhelming to work a busy day shift packed full of potential emergencies and loads of patients to care for. Others may find the normalcy of working the day shift better for their lifestyle.

To best decide if the night shift or day shift is better for you, there are key factors as well as benefits to working either shift to consider.


night shift vs day shift nursing


Night Shift vs. Day Shift Nursing: 6 Key Considerations

Working as a nurse is already tough enough. Working a shift where you don’t thrive in your career makes performing the job a bit more difficult to do. 

That’s why it’s important to consider a handful of factors when trying to decide which shift may be better for both your career and personal life.

If you need extra guidance, Trusted Nurse Staffing can help. Our team of recruiters works one-on-one with travel nurses who not only need help finding nursing contracts that fit their needs but can also help nurses figure out what’s best for them — including choosing between day shift vs. night shift nursing.




#1: What Is Your Family Life Like?

Managing family obligations can be tough as a nurse who often works 12-hour shifts, some of which can be through the night.

Maybe you have younger children at home, but you have a spouse who is home at night or a wonderful caretaker to watch them during the day while you catch up on sleep. Or maybe you’re a single parent who can’t sacrifice being gone overnight but can easily work a 12-hour day shift while your kids are in school and with a caretaker for a few hours afterward.

Balancing your family’s needs while also prioritizing your own — finding time to eat, sleep, and care for yourself — can be difficult, regardless of which shift you’re working. Take the time to evaluate what your family’s needs are before deciding if day shift or night shift nursing might work best.


#2: What Kind of Social Life Do You Prefer?

If you cherish a girl’s night out, night-shift nursing might not be for you.

Going to work after dinner might make it difficult to partake in social activities, but if your go-to friends are your other night-shift co-workers, you might plan daytime events together before heading to work. Consider breakfast dates following the end of your shift or an afternoon workout before the start of one.

Maintaining a social life as a night shift nurse isn’t impossible, it may just take more planning and maybe some sacrifices.

This isn’t to say that day shift nurses maintain social lives with ease. Day shift nurses might find it difficult to go out following a draining 12-hour shift or they may need their entire day off to recover from a tough week at work.

Whether you commit to day shift or night shift nursing, maintaining a social life will likely take sacrifices, work, and commitment — you’ll just have to decide which one seems more attainable for you.


#3: Do You Maintain an Overall Healthy Lifestyle?

Are you someone who prioritizes your health and wellness? Do you eat well, exercise often, and get enough quality sleep?

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle isn’t impossible to do as a night shift nurse, it just might require some adjustments.

The important thing to remember is that maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help you avoid serious risks that may come with working the night shift if you don’t take proper precautions.

Interrupting the body’s natural circadian rhythm has the potential to result in a variety of health problems, including:

  • Mental health issues
  • Diabetes
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Heart disease
  • Obesity

If night shift nursing seems attainable for your lifestyle, consider these tips to help:

  • Get adequate sleep when you’re off the clock
  • Use caffeine wisely
  • Make healthy snack and meal choices
  • Monitor your health 
  • Create relationships with your co-workers


day shift vs night shift nurse


#4: Are You a Morning or Night Person?

As a nurse, it’s extra critical to be functioning at your best at all times — after all, you’re caring for other people.

Functioning at your best all ties into getting good sleep. Being more alert decreases the chances of critical errors being made while also increasing awareness of your patients’ changing needs and conditions.

If your body requires a more “normal” sleep routine to function at its best — i.e., sleeping 7-8 hours in the dark of night — then working as a day shift nurse might be the ideal choice for you. You’ll not only wake up in the mornings more energized, but you’ll be ready to tackle the day and do your job well.

However, some nurses can adjust to sleeping soundly throughout the day and take on working the night shift with an alertness that best suits their patients. If that sounds like you, the night shift is where you’ll thrive.


#5: What Is Your Nursing Style?

If you’re a nurse who thrives on building personal connections with patient families, interacting with endless individuals, or the chaos that often comes with nursing during “normal” hours, the day shift might be a better fit for you.

Maybe you’re a nurse who loves the setting of a clinic. If so, the day shift is likely your only choice.

On the flip side, you might be a nurse who thrives in an environment that is calmer, quieter, and overall less chaotic. 

Night shift nurses tend to have more time to thoroughly chart, are running around less, and often work with fewer individuals during their shifts. If this sounds like your type of nursing, the night shift might be ideal for you.


#6: What Are Your Career Goals?

Hospitals and other medical facilities can see a lot of stuff during day shift hours.

If you’re hoping to gain more experience, have more opportunities to be hands-on with physicians and other medical staff, and learn more to advance your career, the intensity of the day shift is where you’ll likely want to be.

By exposing yourself to the fast-paced environment, you’ll better learn about different aspects of nursing. 

Additionally, physicians often round on patients at the beginning of the day shift, so as a nurse on shift, you’ll have a chance to discuss diagnoses, symptoms, medications, and treatments to help gain more knowledge.


Working as a Day Shift vs. Night Shift Nurse: What Are the Benefits of Each?


4 Benefits of Day Shift Nursing

To some nurses, working the day shift vs. night shift just might seem easier. Yes, work is likely busier, but it makes the day move along quickly while providing a handful of other great benefits.


#1: Fast-Paced Learning Environment 

With everything that goes on during the day shift, nurses are better exposed to the fast-paced learning environment that offers more opportunities. 

Not only do physicians round on patients during the day shift, giving nurses opportunities to gain knowledge and ask questions, but day shift nurses (depending on their specialty) often see more patients with a wider variety of ailments.

Generally, day shift nurses work alongside more doctors, surgeons, and other medical professionals who can help them learn about many aspects of both nursing and the medical field.


#2: More Opportunities To Get Involved in the Action

If your nursing career goals include moving up to higher positions, working the day shift is beneficial.

Here you will have more opportunities to work alongside doctors, seasoned nurses, and other professionals who may provide tools you can use when applying for new positions or requesting a promotion.

Day shift is also a great chance for you to connect with your patients as many are more alert and awake during the day, depending on their condition. This will allow you to build relationships with them and their families and learn more about their needs. 


#3: Maintain a Normal Circadian Rhythm

Did you know that there are risks associated with workers who go against their circadian clocks? 

The most obvious advantage of day shift vs. night shift nursing is having a more “normal” sleep routine. 

Our circadian clock regulates our body functions, including:

  • Fluctuations in blood pressure
  • Body temperature
  • Levels of hormones
  • Levels of digestive enzymes

Our bodies are naturally programmed to feel more tired and require more sleep at night, so working during daytime hours seems to be more convenient for most nurses.

Working the night shift as a nurse can interfere with your circadian rhythm, often leading to:

  • Sleepiness on the job
  • Restlessness
  • Decreased attention
  • Disruption of the body’s metabolic processes

It mostly boils down to this: Nighttime working increases fatigue, which decreases safety.

Not only does throwing off your circadian rhythm force your body to combat its natural rest period while trying to remain alert and high-functioning but as a nurse, you’re now putting other people’s lives at risk.

But wait, there’s more.

Working against your circadian rhythm may also cause sleep disorders and fatigue, which in turn:

  • Worsens moods
  • Decreases cognitive functions
  • Makes you more susceptible to disease 


#4: Easier to Schedule Personal Time

Working a regular daytime shift puts you on the same schedule as most other employees in the workforce. These people could be your family members, friends, or co-workers, and working similar schedules as people you want to spend your free time with makes it easier for you to schedule that time together.

If everyone around you works a day shift, you likely all have evenings free to spend time together.

Of course, working as a nurse might mean staying a bit later or working on-call or on weekends, which may affect your plans. But more often than not, scheduling personal time is a bit easier to accomplish as a day shift nurse.


4 Benefits of Night Shift Nursing

Day shift offers some wonderful benefits, so you might already be thinking that day shift is where you want to be.

But don’t rush into your decision too quicklynight shift nursing comes with many perks, too.


#1: Potential Shift Differential

Although not offered at every medical facility, one substantial benefit for night shift nurses is the potential to earn shift differential pay.

This additional pay is an incentive to those nurses who choose (or are forced) to work the undesirable shifts that often fall outside of normal hours — nights, weekends, or holidays.

This financial incentive can help employers ensure adequate staffing is maintained during these times. How it’s calculated will depend on your employer. But, one thing’s for sure — you can earn more than the day shifters. 

The potential to earn substantially more for taking on unconventional hours can weigh heavily when debating day shift vs. night shift nursing. One of the key reasons why most nurses work the night shift is the increased salary that comes with it. This is an excellent opportunity to pay off debt or build savings. 


#2: Strong Sense of Camaraderie With Co-Workers

Working the night shift might come with fewer hospital staff and minimal to no doctors, but it usually creates strong friendships among co-workers. When fewer bodies are around, you naturally build relationships with those who are. After all, you have to rely on each other for everything during your working hours.

Because the night shift is often quieter and less busy than the day shift, night shift nurses have more opportunities to talk with co-workers, build personal connections, and get to know one another. This can help set a positive tone for the workplace and increase morale among you and your colleagues. 


#3: Potential To Work in a Quieter Atmosphere

In many cases (maybe excluding the emergency room), working the night shift lends to a quieter environment. This might mean more time for you to get through work tasks, personal development tasks, or simply avoid the potential drama of day shift nursing.

The night shift tends to be quieter and less busy because:

  • Most patient procedures are completed during the day
  • Patients are typically asleep
  • Visiting hours are over
  • Most doctors work day shift hours

Although there may be exceptions to any of these — like in the event of an emergency — night shift nurses are often in a quiet environment that allows for them to perform duties mostly undisturbed and accomplish tasks as scheduled.


#4: Regular Business Hours Available

Sometimes working the day shift makes it difficult to perform personal tasks or appointments that require you to be available during business hours. 

Although many nurses have a day or two off throughout the week, working the night shift opens up your daytime availability (with the exception of catching up on sleep) to schedule your appointments with ease.

Besides ensuring you get enough sleep, you don’t have to check your work schedule or ensure you have childcare (if you have school-aged children or no children) before making appointments. You also don’t have to worry as much about taking time off for important functions or similar circumstances.


day shift vs night shift nursing


For a Nurse, Is Night Shift Easier Than Day Shift?

Working both day shift and night shift as a nurse has its perks, but only you can determine which shift might be easier for your lifestyle. With all of the considerations and benefits provided, the only thing left to do is give each shift a try.

As a travel nurse, you’re allowed to work many different contracts that may switch between day shift or night shift nursing. After testing the waters of day shift vs. night shift nursing, you may decide which is easier for you and continue locking down contracts with the shift you most desire.

Are you unsure where to start? Trusted Nurse Staffing can help you search for travel nurse jobs based on your preferences and help you find a contract that works best for your lifestyle.

Check out travel nurse jobs for both day shift and night shift nursing on Pronto!


Trusted Nurse Staffing: Providing Travel Nurses Opportunities to Pursue Both Day Shift and Night Shift Nursing Careers

If you’re a nurse who loves to travel, enjoys flexibility in your schedule, and chases the potential to earn more money, travel nursing is the job for you.

If you’re a nurse who is unsure about some aspects of your nursing career — like if working day shift or night shift is better for your lifestyle — working as a travel nurse might also be for you.

As a travel nurse with Trusted Nurse Staffing, you get benefits like:

  • The highest pay rates in the industry 
  • 24/7 access to a real person who is always there to help
  • Housing, meals, and travel stipends on top of your regular wages
  • Regular bonuses
  • Great insurance benefits
  • A 4% match 401(k)
  • The option to test drive both day and night shift opportunities
  • And much more

Are you ready to secure some travel nurse contracts and find out if day shift or night shift nursing is your jam? Get started with Trusted Nurse Staffing and search for jobs on Pronto today.


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