For the nightshifters.


  • Specializes in Pediatric Psychiatry, Home Health VNA.

If you had the choice to work five 8 hour shifts (11p-7a) or three 12s (7p-7a) which would you choice? I'm having a hard time deciding which is better. One the one hand if you do three 12s then thats it, you're done and have four days to yourself...but the down side is that you're trying to play catch up the rest of the week before you have to start all over again.

I can see five nights being good because it's only 8 hours and then you have more time to catch up on sleep and live a normal life, but the down side is that you have to do FIVE 8 hour night shifts. I can see this being better when it comes to holidays and things like that...if you work three 12s it must wipe out any time with your family on holidays vs. 8s.

Also, what's harder on you, fulltime night shift or day/night rotating (two weeks day and two weeks nights)

What has been your experience? If I get the job I just interviewed for I will be doing nights but it comes with the option to do five 8s, three 12s, or two 12s and two 8s (which I wouldn't do).

Thanks in advance.


38,333 Posts

I have found it easier to do the 3 12's rather than the 5 8's. The physical act of getting ready and going to and from work (not to mention the time there) of 5 days rather than 3 just tires me out. I haven't found any problem in adjusting with the 12's. Just take longer naps if I need them.

Elvish, BSN, DNP, RN, NP

17 Articles; 5,259 Posts

Specializes in Community, OB, Nursery.

3 12's any day of the week. And if you can at all, run from rotating shifts like they are the plague. I don't know anyone who has done them, including yours truly, that enjoys them.

Specializes in ED. Has 20 years experience.

I do 5 nights a week. The option of 3 12's is not available to us. We have the option of 2 12's and 2 8's and that is so worth it. If we had the choice of 3 12's, I'd do it in a heartbeat. I would probably opt to do 11P-11A though (an option at my work). I truly hate giving up my evening time with my family.

Specializes in Med/Surg, LTC/Geriatric.

As I'm casual and do both days and nights, I prefer 8 hour overnights. It gives me time in the evening to be with my kids, have a nice supper with my family, put my 5 year old to bed and then have a quick nap before my 11pm shift.

I did a few 12 hour overnights as a student and starting at 7pm was horrible for my family life. The extra 4 hours work wasn't horrible, it was just bad for my family.

Overall, I would rather get it all done in 3 nights and not 5, but I can't have it both ways.

A full time overnight (11pm-7am) may be available at my work in the next few weeks, but I won't be applying for it simply because I can't handle two overnights in a row, never mind 5!!


380 Posts

i would prefer 3 12's. where i work now in a dialysis unit we do 4 10 hour days but lately those 10's have practically turned into 12's and i am so exhausted by the end of that 4th day.


189 Posts

Specializes in psych,maternity, ltc, clinic. Has 15 years experience.

When I worked night shift I also prefered 3-12's.

Have you started your job yet?


148 Posts

Specializes in medicine and psychiatry. Has 13 years experience.

Only work 3 12's. Can'nt stand 5 8's. It's like living on anothe planet. Don'nt see enough sunlight.


127 Posts

Specializes in Medical-Surgical. Has 6 years experience.

12's beyond a shadow of doubt.


311 Posts

Specializes in behavioral health. Has 1 years experience.

I'm on the 8 hour evening 3-11pm shift. Five days a week is unpleasant. Nursing is draining and it's hard to work more days even though the shifts are shorter.

I would think that working 5 8hr night shifts would make doing anything ever during the day near impossible.


225 Posts

I work 3 12's. It is the only night job I have ever worked, so I really don't know how 5 8's would be, but I can imagine that I wouldn't like it.

It is hard on the days I work because I barely see my family. During the week, they are gone when I get home. I wake up about 4:00 so I can spend an hour with them and eat, then have to get ready to go.

I do try to lump my days together as much as possible. That way, when I'm done with my shifts, then I can get back on my family's schedule. But, it usually takes me a couple of days to "get right". Often, I wake up in the middle of the night, not being able to get back to sleep, and being hungry! Or, I just won't be able to make it through the day without taking a nap.

Nights are hard any way you slice it. But, I really do like working nights, and can't see myself working days as long as I work in the hospital.

mama_d, BSN, RN

1,187 Posts

Specializes in tele, oncology. Has 10 years experience.

I've done both, and much prefer 12's. Easier to pick up OT when available, and I can get home in time to get my kids on the bus (my husband sleeps like the dead). I did do 12 hr days for a while, and my kids all agree that they'd rather have dad home to put them to bed and mom home to get them up than vice versa.

Also easier to deal with kids' school activities and sports and me being back in school when I only have to work three nights a week, even though I ususally try to work 4-5 shifts a week.

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