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Third shift (also known as graveyard shift), is the work shift that runs overnight into the morning. The exact hours will vary, but in general a third shift worker will go into work in the very late evening, and get off sometime around sunrise.

I work third shift myself (and have for years). It changes your life in so many ways. I sit behind my quiet desk at work, answering the occasional phone call, and dealing with the few customers who may show up in my hotel in the middle of the night (not many, since I work at a rather fancy hotel). Most of that time I am alone. I have found that my eyes have become much less accustomed to changes in light and dark. You would probably think they would be more used to the dark, right? Wrong. I am rarely ever in darkness at all. I have to sleep during the daytime, and I spend my nights under artificial light. This has made me very sensitive to bright lights, and low levels of light (I am no longer used to either one).

After working third shift for a long period of time you will begin to sleep less and less. I myself am down to about four hours a day. My reasoning for why goes something like this. If you wake up at 4 am, you will go back to sleep right, of course you will. But I sleep during the daytime. If I wake up at noon (which I often do), I think to myself, "Wow, I still have almost the entire day left". This may not be the true culprit, but many people do seem to develop reduced sleep patterns when they work on the third shift.

The third shift is best for people who are single, since you will not be coming home to sleep in your lovers bed every night, and even when you can, you will find yourself unable to sleep (because you should be awake, and you have gotten used to sleeping alone). On the other side of the same coin, the third shift is great for people who want to have active social lives. You can literally party all night long on your days off, with out disrupting your sleep pattern, or even getting tired. You can't stay out as late on your work days, but it sure beats the social life killing 3PM-11PM shift (also known as second shift).

Many people eventually tire of working this shift, and seek employment during regular hours. Actually, more like most people tire of this shift, as third shift almost always has the highest turnover at any place of business (even though it often pays more). But it is difficult to search for a new job while working a third shift job, after all, you have to look for jobs during the day (which is when you should be sleeping). This sometimes makes it difficult to get out of the third shift lifestyle (at least it has been hard for me).

Third shift is never good.

In addition to the Graveyard Shift, it is also sometimes called the Night Shift, a nickname it sometimes shares with second shift. Note that I cannot fall into the regular third shift pattern because I am a swing shifter, which means they toss me all around the time clock, and where I work, you can literally see me at any time of the day, because we never close, not even on Christmas Day.

Third shift will screw with your sense of perception. The thing of it is, someone will ask you for the date, and you might not be sure if it is still today, or if today has become yesterday and tomorrow has become today. As passport noted, you will often be around artificial lighting. You put up a fight with your own body, (it gets especially hard around 4:00 am) because humans are not nocturnal creatures. We were meant to sleep at night. And working third shift pits us against this natural urge.

There is an old saying, the freaks come out at night. At my job, I have seen this proven true. People come around, either going to parties, coming from parties, or in between parties, wanting beer, and big fat cigars which I know they are just going to take the tobacco out of and fill with marajuana.

Third shift is frequently performed by nurses, law enforcement officials, truck drivers, and other people who work places that stay open 24 hours.

Third shift damages your days off, (maybe it's extra hard on me because I swing the clock, I can't say) because even if you are off a day, you have to sleep for half of it!

I agree with passport, third shift is great if you are single. I am, plus I have no social life, so I can get on okay swingshifting for now, I just stay kind of tired when I work a lot of third.

There is also the increased danger of being robbed or something on third shift, because of the dark and lonely hours. This has never really bothered me, I go outside and change the trash and all, and I'm not worried about getting hit in the head, but that's not to say it couldn't happen.

Third shift is an intriguing beast. What I say here is naturally in regards to my own experiences with such work, but I imagine that most of it can be extended to other workplaces. I won't bore you with the specifics of my present career, suffice it to say there are lots of scary sounding chemicals, large and expensive machinery, and lots of scary yellow lights that make blue things look black.

Rather, I would like to address third shift and the effect it has on employee motivation. While this will not be true everywhere, third shift can be quite dull. A lack of higher-ups to create work which needs doing leads to, well, a lack of work which needs doing. At my job, I moved from second shift, which was arguably the busiest at this particular business, to thirds. When, all of a sudden, there is comparatively little to be done, you can easily find yourself filling time through mindless busywork or less. This is very habit forming. I would say that during a slow night, I spend upwards of half my shift searching for things to do and, when that fails, browsing the net (which is consequently what lead me to E2, but that is neither here nor now). Since this is the rule and not the exception, when a busy night comes around, you are no more inclined to put in a hard day's night than on a slow night. And so, work does not get done.

Lack of work begets lack of motivation. Lack of motivation begets lack of work. It's a vicious cycle.

Working third shift can be a monster. It can throw your life into confusion and disarray. It can leave you baffled and confused when it comes to dealing with dealing with the daywalkers (people who sleep at night and work and do things during the day). It can be many things, but in my experience of working third shift for many years, offset by periods of working second shift, there are a number of things you can do to make your life workable and even enjoyable.

I always recommend to people who work third shift that they avoid going to sleep when going home at the end of the shift. I promote the idea of "reversing the clock," which basically involves convincing your brain that AM is PM and PM is AM. I recommend sleeping a set period of time every day that works out to be the equivalent of what you would sleep if you worked a day job and slept at night. For example, I usually go to bed around one o'clock in the afternoon every day. When I am not working that night I might stay up as late as six o'clock in the evening. When I worked a day job I would usually go to bed around one o'clock in the morning and on weekends stay up later, so I am effectively doing the same thing with a reversed clock. The people I've seen burn out fastest working third shift are those who take periodic naps during the day, never getting more than four hours of sleep before work, and try to sleep the "normal" night hours on their days off. What happens is they don't adjust to the work hours and are constantly tired at work, spending most of the shift just trying to stay awake. Trying to stay awake and functional takes the majority of their effort and they are rarely able to be effective at doing the job, which contrary to the beliefs of many daywalkers usually involves more than just making yourself stay awake all night.

If you can effectively reverse the clock, getting up at night before work with just enough time to eat, shower and get dressed (or the same as what one usually does in the morning before going to a day job) will leave you with the equivalent of an evening that takes place in the morning. One of the advantages is that one can accomplish things in a third shifter's evening that a day shifter cannot, as the third shifter's evening is actually the morning and more things are open and available. One can schedule doctor's appointments, go to the post office, renew one's driver's license and so forth during the morning hours once you treat these hours like your evening. Confused yet?

The social aspects of being a third shifter can be devastating, especially to those trying to maintain relationships with people who work during the day. It is damned near impossible to date if one is single. I like to say dealing with daywalkers is difficult because we third shifters drink coffee at night and beer in the morning. Having worked the night shift in multiple locales I've found this leads to some very strange relationships developing between third shift co-workers. When the ability to socialize effectively is severely limited and one still needs friendships and affection from others, third shifters end up turning to each other. At one place I worked where there was a rather large staff on third shift there was a club that was basically a morning drinking and group sex party that went on regularly. It is hard to find a place to drink and pick up sex partners in the normal morning hours, so if one is into that sort of thing the choices are... limited.

As I have become a solitary type creature over the past few years, becoming a natural third shifter agreed with me and I now all but refuse to work any other shift. Even my limited desire for socialization causes confusion in third shifters who haven't gotten the hang of it when I mention the idea of them coming over to my place to watch movies and make-out at eight o'clock in the morning. It doesn't seem strange to me because eight o'clock in the morning is eight o'clock at night as far as I am concerned.

You can work third shift and live a healthy and reasonable life, get enough sleep, eat properly and do all the things you would normally do as a daywalker. Just tell yourself that you are a half-insane vampire, reverse the clock and do it right.

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