Three Things You Probably Don’t Know About People Who Work Third Shift

From someone who has worked nights his whole life

Andrew Taynor
Jan 22 · 4 min read
Photo by Joe Lewandowski on Unsplash

You’re probably asleep as I’m typing this. Unless you’re just a night owl, a college student, or just gave birth to a newborn, it’s likely you’ve been asleep for hours.

But not me! Here I am typing away!

Don’t worry, I’m not avoiding my work so that I can jot down some thoughts rolling around in my head — although I can’t deny that I’ve never been guilty of that crime.

I’m actually on my break right now. And while I’d much rather be at home with my family, sound asleep in my bed, I still have a few more hours until I’m “free.”

I’m not sure what shift or schedule you work, but I thought I’d take some time to share a few things you might not know about third-shifters.

The Reason

Reasons people work a third shift schedule vary. The common myth is that people choose to work overnight because they are night owls. A lot of people think we — speaking for all third-shifters — love being up at all hours of the night, so that’s when we want to work.

The truth is, for most people who work thirds, we work these hours because it’s what is best for our family.

For me, this nighttime schedule fits well with my wife’s schedule. She’s able to work first shift while I work nights, then we don’t have to do childcare.

The cost of childcare would completely wipe out any “extra” I come we’d make by both working first shift jobs.

A lot of jobs also fill positions based on seniority. In these cases, most veteran employees choose to work first shift, leaving the new guys covering the graveyard shifts.

Same, but opposite.

People seem to be blown away by the hours that I work. This leads them to ask some pretty dumb (objectively speaking) questions.

I don’t know how many times I hear, “Man, how do you work those crazy hours!?”

My response is always the usual, “Well, it’s really the same as you, it’s just opposite.”

What I mean by that is, just because it’s not the “norm” to work over night, it’s still an 8 hour shift. My work schedule is just on the opposite side of the day.

I also get, “Man, when do you get any sleep!?”

My normal reply to this is, “Well, whenever I’m not at work, I carve out a few hours to sleep, just like you!”

Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash

Again, it’s the same, but opposite. Instead of sleeping from 11 pm until 6 am, normal third shifters sleep anywhere from 8 am until 5 pm, depending on their exact schedule.

Generally, when I get off work, I come home and stay up for a few hours before I get some sleep.

Normal people often ask, “Why don’t you sleep as soon as you get home so you can enjoy more of the day?”

I like to remind these people that they usually get home from work around 5 or 6 in the evening. Then they attend to family matters or catch up on hobbies or watch their favorite tv shows before hitting the hay.

It’s the same, but opposite, with third-shifters. Many times we come home and we aren’t sleepy right away. We do chores or have our own free time before heading off to bed…with our room-darkening curtains!

What day is it?

I think I can speak for all workers who are on the night shift when I say that often we get confused as to what day it is.

Words like “tomorrow” and “last night” mean totally different things to us. Usually, our shifts start on one day and cross over into the next day.

So when you’re at the gas station filling up in the morning before work and say, “Did you catch that game last night?” 1) No, we didn’t. We were working. And 2) What game was last night? You mean earlier today?

I know it’s confusing if you’re a normal human being on a “normal” schedule. To be honest, it’s still confusing to us sometimes!

Now you know.

To some of you, the information I just shared could be ground-breaking.

To others of you reading, you either work third-shift or your loved one does. Maybe your kids do or even your parents.

I just wanted to alert those who have no experience on the topic of what all “we” go through working nights.

The last thing I’d want you to do is call someone who works third shift on your lunch break. They either won’t answer or they’ll be pretty irritated when they pick-up the phone with groggy eyes!

Andrew Taynor

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Hope is your greatest ally. I want to help you realize that as I struggle to hold onto it myself. Check out more from me at

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