3rd Shift Hours: Insights into Shift Work and Non-traditional Schedules

Mike Kulakov, Yesterday
embracing the night: a guide to 3rd shift hours aka graveyard shift

The world is a bustling place, and while most of us are accustomed to the familiar rhythms of the day, there is another realm that springs to life when the sun sets — the third shift.

In this article, we delve into the intriguing world of the third shift, exploring its benefits, challenges, how to use the best employee scheduling apps to keep track of those shifts, and how to make it work for your team and business.

What Is the Third Shift?

The third shift, or a graveyard shift, is a work schedule that typically spans the late evening to early morning hours, usually from 11 pm to 7 am. It is part of a three-shift system that keeps businesses running around the clock, ensuring continuous operations in a 24/7 world.

decoding the shift terminology: 1st, 2nd, and third shift explained

What are the 3rd shift hours?

The 3d shift is a period of overnight hours, typically ranging from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. However, it’s important to recognize that these specific timeframes can vary when considering different companies, industries, and locations.


  • 1st Shift: 7:00 AM – 3:00 PM
  • 2nd Shift: 3:00 PM – 11:00 PM
  • 3rd Shift: 11:00 PM – 7:00 AM


  • 1st Shift: 6:00 AM – 2:00 PM
  • 2nd Shift: 2:00 PM – 10:00 PM
  • 3rd Shift: 10:00 PM – 6:00 AM

While this article classifies occupation groups into three distinct categories, it’s important to note that there is often a blending of working hours. For instance, numerous workers in food preparation and service may be active during late-night hours. However, certain individuals, like coffee shop employees, might work during the very early morning or at unconventional times. Similarly, professions that entail overnight work often exhibit significant proportions of workers on duty during the evening and early morning hours.

Shifts by Everhour provides an intuitive solution for managing employee schedules with ease. From flexible scheduling options to mobile accessibility, it’s the ideal solution for optimizing workforce management in any industry.

Understanding the Shift Cycle: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Shift Hours Unveiled

To appreciate the third shift, we must first understand its counterparts—the 1st and 2nd shifts. 

1st Shift: Typically, the 1st shift begins early in the morning, around 7:00 AM or 8:00 AM, and ends in the early afternoon, around 3:00 PM or 4:00 PM. This shift aligns with traditional business hours and is commonly found in office settings, retail stores, and educational institutions.

2nd Shift: The 2nd shift usually starts in the late afternoon, around 3:00 PM or 4:00 PM, and ends in the evening, around 11:00 PM or midnight. This shift is often associated with industries like hospitality, restaurants, and manufacturing, where operations extend beyond regular business hours.

3rd Shift: The 3rd shift, also known as the night shift or graveyard shift, typically begins late at night, around 11:00 PM or midnight, and lasts until the early morning, around 7:00 AM or 8:00 AM, bridging the gap between the closing of the 2nd shift and the start of the 1st shift. It is common in healthcare facilities, transportation services, and 24/7 customer support centers, where continuous coverage is essential.

The term “graveyard shift” may have originated due to the quiet and still atmosphere that mirrors cemeteries at night, or the sense of solitude and isolation that comes with working when most are asleep. The term has been used since the early 1900s and is often associated with industries like healthcare and emergency services. It’s important to note that while the term “graveyard shift” has become widely used, it can also carry negative connotations due to its association with the idea of darkness and death. Some prefer to use alternatives like “night shift” or “overnight shift” to avoid the potentially morbid imagery.

Which Cities Boast the Largest Share of Third Shift Employees?

🎰🤑 🎲 Las Vegas takes the lead in having the highest proportion of its workforce engaged in third-shift work. With its bustling 24-hour gambling scene, it’s hardly astonishing that 16.54% of Las Vegas employees operate during the nighttime hours. From bartenders and casino staff to hotel crews, the city maintains a continuous workforce around the clock.

U.S. Cities With the Most People Working Night Jobs – NapLab.com – Infographic

Advantages of Third Shift Hours

The third shift offers several advantages for both employees and businesses. For employees, working the third shift brings numerous benefits that cater to their lifestyle and work preferences.

Advantages of Third Shift Hours for Employees 🧑‍💼

Working the third shift offers a host of benefits for employees, creating a unique work experience that caters to their lifestyle and preferences.

1. 🏆 Third shift jobs typically face less competition compared to regular daytime positions. With fewer individuals vying for these roles, securing a third shift job can present a smoother pathway to enter one’s desired career field and gain valuable work experience.

2. 🕊️ Many workplaces maintain a smaller staff during the third shift, leading to increased autonomy for workers. Third shift employees often work under a smaller management team, allowing for greater freedom to focus on their responsibilities and tasks.

3. 🔇 During the third shift, many facilities experience a quieter and calmer atmosphere. For example, employees restocking shelves in stores or manning security desks during closed hours encounter reduced foot traffic, enabling increased focus and productivity.

4. 🚗 One significant advantage of the third shift is the lighter traffic during the commute to and from work. Unlike regular business hours, where roads are often congested, third shift workers enjoy smoother and faster travel, saving valuable time and reducing stress associated with traffic delays.

5. 📞 Workplace meetings are typically scheduled during regular business hours, but third shift workers often have the advantage of not having to attend these meetings. Instead, they can receive meeting notes or updates without interrupting their sleep or personal time, allowing for better focus on their tasks.

6. 📅 While adjusting sleep hours may be necessary, working the third shift grants individuals more availability during daytime hours. This flexibility can be beneficial for engaging in personal activities, such as meeting service professionals or running errands.

By considering these advantages, individuals can make informed decisions about embracing the third shift schedule, finding a work-life balance that aligns with their needs and aspirations.

Advantages of Third Shift Hours for Business 💼

The benefits of the third shift extend beyond individual employees, as businesses can also thrive by implementing this scheduling strategy.

1. 🏪 Third shift schedules allow businesses to operate around the clock, ensuring continuous production or service delivery. This can be particularly beneficial for industries with high demand or critical services that need to be available 24/7.

2. 🚀 With fewer daytime distractions and disruptions, third shift workers may find it easier to focus on their tasks, leading to improved efficiency and productivity. Moreover, some tasks can be completed during off-peak hours, potentially reducing overall operation costs.

3. 💰 By spreading work hours across multiple shifts, businesses can minimize the need for excessive overtime during peak hours, saving on labor costs.

4. 🤝 Having a third shift allows businesses to be more responsive to unexpected changes or emergencies that might occur during non-standard business hours. This flexibility can lead to improved customer service and satisfaction.

5. 😊 Offering third shift options can attract employees who prefer or require non-traditional work hours. It can also enhance employee retention by accommodating diverse scheduling needs.

6. ✨ With round-the-clock operations, businesses can create opportunities for cross-training employees across different shifts. This ensures that the workforce remains versatile and capable of handling various tasks and responsibilities.

7. 💡 Businesses can optimize the use of equipment and facilities by operating them during non-peak hours. This can result in better asset utilization and potentially extend the lifespan of costly machinery.

8. 🌎 For businesses operating globally, having a third shift allows them to be accessible to clients and partners in different time zones, facilitating communication and collaboration.

Overall, embracing a third shift schedule can be advantageous for businesses looking to enhance their operational efficiency, customer service, and workforce management. However, it’s essential for businesses to carefully consider the specific needs of their industry and employees before implementing such a schedule. By leveraging the advantages of third shift hours, both employees and businesses can achieve greater success and productivity.

Disadvantages of Running a Third Shift

While the allure of the third shift is undeniable, it is not without its challenges. 

  • ❗The human body’s natural circadian rhythm prefers wakefulness during the day and rest during the night, making it difficult for employees to adjust to reversed sleep schedules. This can result in sleep disturbances, fatigue, and potential health issues.
  • ❗Fatigue and reduced alertness during late-night hours can increase the risk of accidents and injuries in some work settings.
  • ❗Due to the unconventional nature of third shift work, finding qualified candidates to fill these positions may be more challenging, potentially leading to staffing shortages.
  • ❗Third shift employees may face communication challenges as they work during hours when fewer colleagues and supervisors are available.
  • ❗Additionally, social and family life may be impacted due to the divergent schedules, making it challenging for night-shift workers to synchronize their lives with the rest of society.

Surviving the Third Shift: Tips and Tricks

Working the night shift can be challenging, as it goes against the body’s natural circadian rhythm and can disrupt sleep patterns. However, with proper shift planning and self-care, employees can successfully navigate the night shift and maintain their well-being.

Consistent sleep schedule

One of the most crucial aspects of surviving the third shift is establishing a consistent sleep schedule. Prioritize your sleep by setting a regular sleep routine, even on your days off. Create a dark, quiet, and comfortable sleep environment to promote better sleep quality during the day.

Adjusting your sleep schedule gradually in the days leading up to starting the third shift can significantly ease the transition. By gradually shifting your sleep hours, your body can adapt more smoothly to the new schedule and minimize sleep disruptions.

Consider taking short naps during your break time if permitted. A quick power nap (around 20-30 minutes) can refresh your mind and body, boosting your alertness and productivity during the night.

Limiting caffeine and heavy meals

Limiting caffeine and heavy meals towards the end of your shift is essential to avoid interfering with your ability to fall asleep once you get home. Consuming these items can disrupt your sleep patterns, making it challenging to get the rest you need.

Natural light

Exposure to natural light during your waking hours can play a crucial role in regulating your internal body clock. Take short breaks outside during your shift or open curtains to let in natural light, which can help improve your alertness during the night.

Stay active

Staying active and hydrated during the third shift is vital for maintaining energy levels and combating fatigue. Incorporate regular physical activity into your daily routine and remember to drink plenty of water throughout your shift.

Engaging in stimulating activities during your shift can help you stay alert and focused. Taking short walks, doing stretching exercises, or engaging in light conversations can keep your mind active and ward off drowsiness.

Healthy snacks

Opt for healthy snacks during your shift to maintain energy levels and avoid sugary or processed foods that can lead to energy crashes. Eating well-balanced, nourishing snacks can sustain your energy levels throughout the night.


Communicate your night shift schedule to your family and friends, so they can respect your sleep hours and avoid unnecessary disruptions during the day. Creating an understanding and supportive environment can make the night shift feel less isolating.

Connecting with your coworkers who are also working the night shift can create a supportive environment. Sharing experiences and tips can help foster a sense of camaraderie and make the night shift experience more manageable.


While some may find sleep aids helpful to adjust to the night shift, it’s essential to use them sparingly and consult a healthcare professional if needed.


By incorporating these tips and tricks into your night shift routine, you can not only survive but also thrive during your non-traditional work hours while maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Remember to listen to your body and make adjustments as needed to ensure your well-being and productivity.

Optimize Third Shift with Shift Scheduling Software

shift bidding: how to use it & hidden benefits

In today’s digital age, technology offers valuable solutions for managing work schedules efficiently. Shift scheduling software, such as Shifts by Everhour, can be a game-changer for businesses and employees dealing with third shifts. This software provides numerous benefits that streamline the scheduling process and enhance overall productivity.

  • Streamlined Scheduling Process: Shift scheduling software simplifies the process of creating and managing shifts for night workers. Employers can quickly add and edit shifts, taking into account employee availability and preferences. This not only saves time but also reduces the chances of scheduling errors.
  • Automated Shift Reminders: Shift scheduling software can send automated shift reminders to employees, ensuring they never miss their scheduled shifts. This feature is especially helpful for night shift workers, as they may find it easy to overlook shifts due to non-traditional work hours.
  • Real-Time Updates: Shift scheduling software provides real-time updates on any changes to the schedule. Employees can access their schedules on their devices and stay informed about shift modifications or additional assignments.
  • Fair and Transparent Scheduling: With the use of shift scheduling software (like Shifts by Everhour), employers can ensure fair and transparent scheduling practices. The software helps avoid favoritism and promotes equitable distribution of shifts among employees.
  • Overtime Monitoring: For night shift workers who often work extended hours, shift scheduling software can help monitor overtime accurately. This prevents unnecessary fatigue and ensures that employees are compensated appropriately for their extra efforts.
  • Improved Employee Satisfaction: By using shift scheduling software, businesses can provide employees with more control over their schedules, leading to increased job satisfaction and engagement. Night shift workers may appreciate the convenience and flexibility offered by the software.


The third shift, with its unique challenges and advantages, plays a vital role in the modern economy. By understanding its nuances and adopting strategies to make it work for employees and businesses, the third shift can become a thriving and rewarding part of the work landscape. Embracing the night brings endless opportunities for seamless operations, employee satisfaction, and enhanced productivity in an ever-evolving world.

Mike Kulakov

Mike Kulakov

IT entrepreneur, executive and a former engineer. Responsible for company growth as well as the team’s motivation. Big fan of playing tennis, snowboarding, traveling, reading books, and (of course) I live and breathe our product.