Working the Grave Yard Shift


I have been promoted at work. That is the good news. I am now, however, working the graveyard shift. I am able to keep up with my catechetical studies, still teach RCIA and have shifted my prayer discipline to night time on the way into work instead of early morning (on the way into work). What has anyone else found helpful to them when working the graveyard shift (besides buying coffee futures)?


worked graveyard for years will kids were growing up to lessen time spent in daycare. learn to fall asleep when and where you can. make sure to spend some time outside in the sunlight everyday (even when it is overcast, get out there for at least 20 minutes). sleep with a gun beside you and threaten to shoot anyone who wakes you up (well that may be a little extreme), but you do have to make the family respect your sleep time.

learn to say no. everybody thinks because you are home during the day you have all this free time.

get room darkening shades or drapes, earplugs and eyeshades, and if necessary an air cleaner that makes white noise.
if you live in an area with a lot of construction going on, move. there is no way to sleep with or block out that constant beep, beep noise.

eat right, and plan your meal schedule around your work, or you will snack all night and set yourself up for a lifelong struggle with your weight. do not neglect fitness and exercise, and use any opportunity during the night to walk, climb stairs etc.


Do you think it is a good idea to do one meal in the ‘middle’ of the night - on my lunch hour (if you can call it that)? I have been bringing lean cuisine type meals hoping that if I had a well balanced meal about half way through the shift I might not need as much coffee - does that sound goofy?

I did get the darkening stuff for the windows and that has helped so much.

This is definitely different from the days of staying up all night to go dancing…lololol…


You know, I never appreciated the people who work graveyard shifts until I was offered a great job that was shift work, and would be graveyard one week a month. I thought about it and finally decided it would be extremly unheathly for my relationship with my husband, and the fact that I soon hope to be pregnant. It is right for some and not for others. Then I really realised how much sacrifice the people who work graveyard shifts make! Good on you.

You will probably make great close friends at work on that shift. Hopefully your bedroom is quiet and you can get sleep during the day? I know I wouldn’t have with the barking dog next door and living downtown…


Doesn’t sound goofy at all – it’s a good idea! I worked midnights for about 20 years, and I would pack a decent lunch to take with me to work, which I would eat around 2 a.m. Sometimes it was leftovers from supper, sometimes it was typical “lunch” food – soup & sandwich, that sort of thing, but it was always something more substantial than just a snack. Otherwise I would “graze” all night on junk food from the vending machine, and that’s bad for one’s health and one’s weight. I managed to get myself completely off caffeine while still on nights (I had to do that for health reasons), and it wasn’t easy, but it also wasn’t impossible.

Welcome to the world of third shift, and good luck with the job!


You’re lucky you’re not flipping back and forth - that is, IMHO, the WORST type of job to have. x.x Adjusting to working during the day for a week, then the night for a week, then the day, then the night, back and forth… I nearly lost my mind!!! I was glad it was only for the summer. The only part I enjoyed about working nights was seeing the sunrise in the morning.

Eat well. I found I had no appetite during night shift. I’ve read that apples have all the chemicals needed to keep you awake, so try an apple along side your coffee, see if you need to drink less of it.


I agree with a lot of what the other posters have had to say. Thankfully, at my job you get to pick your shift for the next year. Bad in some ways, but good that you know what all of your days off are going to be for in the next year.

I would like to give you some advice about off days. Even if you switch to a somewhat normal schedule to have some family time, i’d still try to stay up until around 4AM or so, then sleep till noon or so. Whenever I tried to go completely to a normal schedule on my off days I ended up really screwing myself up.

What I did (and it worked for me, may not work for all) is after working 11PM-7AM, was to come home and stay up until about 8 winding down then try to sleep till about 3. Then I could get up when my wife was getting home (she worked until 2:30) and have at least a mostly normal home life.

Also, if you have a phone in your bedroom you may want to take it out (perhaps any critical calls could come into your cell phone?). I can’t tell you the number of times some telemarketer called around noon, and since my body had a few hours of sleep and it was daylight I was up and couldn’t go back to sleep.

In the end, you’ll need to find out what works best for you. I was very thankful that my neighbor worked many years on third shift himself and understood the fallacy of “oh, you’ll have lot’s of free time now” and never mowed his lawn in the morning or early am while I worked third shift.

Good luck to you:)



My mom worked swing shift for years and worked graveyard every third week. She would come home at about 7:30 and take a nap until around 9 or 10. She would also go to bed around 5 or 5:30and sleep until 10 which is when she got up to get ready for work.

It was extremely hard on me and my brother (my youngest brother was born not long before she went on social security so he doesn’t remember) because on those weeks we only saw Mom for a little while when we came home from school (we useally get home around 4). The only thing worse would be the following week when she would work 3 to 11 and we only saw her for a half hour in the morning when we got ready for school.

My mom would also unplug the phone when she got home in the morning.


Definitely pack your lunch. Treat it just like you would a noon day meal. Techinally speaking, for you it will be your noon day meal. :wink:
I have worked this shift for a couple of years. One thing I would advise is go to bed as soon as you get home. Do not try and stay up. Make sure you sleep a full 6-8 hours straight. Again treat this as if it was your regular night time sleep. Because for you this is your regular night time sleep. Turn the phone off in your room and let the answering machine get it, otherwise you will be likely to get people calling during the day and disturbing your sleep for who knows what reason.


My dh is currently working a night shift. It’s 10pm here and he is currently at work. One thing I found is it can be hard keeping the kids quiet during the day while he is sleeping. And for anyone who ask NO sending them outside to be loud does not work because he can still hear it! :stuck_out_tongue: Having worked the night shift myself I can sympathize with dh and so I tend to really stress to the kids that they need to be quiet because daddy needs his sleep. For those wondering, no, I do not ask them to whisper but kids, for some strange reason :rolleyes: , tend to be naturally LOUD. Or at least mine are. :stuck_out_tongue:

eat right, and plan your meal schedule around your work, or you will snack all night and set yourself up for a lifelong struggle with your weight. do not neglect fitness and exercise, and use any opportunity during the night to walk, climb stairs etc.

Unless of course this job already requires him to do that. The job I worked and the ones dh has worked require you getting a fairly decent work out just moving around in one place (in my case, I was a packer) and walking (in dh’s case, he is in maintenance).


I love night shift - even if it does make for some strange habits.

I tend to graze food through the shift. I pack up a bag of sandwiches, fruits, cereal, leftovers, and snacks and then eat as I feel and time premits through the night.

I like to swim after I get off work and then go to bed. If I’m running or biking that day, I’m more likely to sleep first and then train in the afternoon.

Morning and Evening prayer I keep on the clock, but I shift Compline to right before bed regardless of the time. Noonday prayer has never made into my prayer life.



My dh also loves the night shift. The night shift tends to be more peaceful than the day shift. A lot less big wigs means a lot less politics going on and he hates politics.


On the social side…we switched having “dinner parties” to having “brunch parties” with friends. “Brunch parties” have their pluses…usually less expensive, your guests think it’s unique and fun, and they usually have something to do by mid morning so the guests leave before your sleeping time is diminished. It can be difficult to have a real life when working shifts. We used to have friends over for snacks/dessert and to watch Saturday Night Live after the swing shift. You have to get creative or you can become isolated. We knew who the true friends were when they would accommodate their visits with the shift schedule!


thanks, everyone! These are some great suggestions! I noticed that in the first two months (ok, it’s only been two months) I did get an ear infection and I have not had an ear infection in DECADES. I figured my immune system was being challenged because I was not getting enough sleep during the day.

It’s starting to get better. I get home to Modesto about 2 hours after my shift (yes, I have a long commute but it is only for 4 years and 3 more months but who is counting?) and I am feeling ready for bed by that time. I wasn’t at first, but I am getting into the habit.

Weekends are hard because I want to just flip right back into the old pattern. I am trying to stay up later, get up for early Mass, and then go back to bed so I keep a little bit of the same schedule. This weekend is the Parish Festival and I signed up to help out for the evening stuff, thinking this will help me stay on track.

Keep me in your prayers - is there a patron saint for shift workers?:shrug:


I give you a lot of credit for being able to do it! I only did it for 3 nights and I vomited frequently and had a horrible headache from it and had to switch back to days again. I’m a wimp. Thank goodness that was many years ago (I was 18) and I never had to do it again.

My dh sometimes works 11pm -7 am shift and I know it is VERY stressful for him.


I’ve been working 12 hr night shifts, 3 days per week for the past 16 years. I am 52 years old. :bigyikes: Because of my volunteer work my shifts are split (one on, one off, two on, three off). So, as you can guess, I’m constantly flipping back and forth. I usually go to bed right when I get home (8am-8:30am) and try to sleep until 4pm; unless I’m off that night, then I’m up about noon, go to be that night at about 8pm. :sleep: It is hard but I actually see more of my family on the 12 hr. nights than I would on 12 hr. days. And, there is less politics and administrators at night:thumbsup:


I’ve never worked a third shift (outside of rush jobs/overtime) but I’ve been working a second shift in Digital Printing for 5 years now.
This is one thing I learned, always write things down. If you had to make a decision because there was no one else there to make it, leave a note. I type my notes, save one copy to my folder, and print two, one for my files and one for the dayshift.
You would be surprised how often people on days will decide to blame the night shift, and the notes are a good defense.

Other than that, enjoy seeing a different side of the world.

Yours in Christ,


you need the energy when you are working, so eat that way, have a good balanced meal on your break. my problem was the job did not allow for regular breaks, a solid half hour to sit down and eat, so I developed bad eating habits which still plague me. do whatever you can to eat a good breakfast before work, a good balanced meal on your mid-shift break, and a lite supper type meal when you get home, plus nutritious lite snacks on breaks, and eat properly, seated, chewing and swallowing not gulping, paying attention to your food, not doing other things. trouble with coffee is it always seems accompanied by snickers (or cigarettes). no matter what shift you work too much caffeine equals poor quality sleep. Oddly enough I did not drink coffee at all in those years, never started til I went to grad school.

I second the advice to keep your sleep schedule as much as possible on your days off, or you will really get whacked out. the swing shift is an abomination

good thing about shift work is your drive time is not rush hour, or at least you are going in the other direction. for us it worked, because DH became very involved in parenting, more than was usual at that time.


the bit about the commute being a ‘reverse’ one is certainly true. I cannot imagine what it would be like trying to go home at 8am in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Thank you all so much for sharing your experience with me. This is difficult but it is such a good opportunity and if I can hang in there for 4 years and 4 months I can retire with a much better pension than before…lololol…


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