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What is the Graveyard Shift?

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  • Written By: Phil Shepley
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 10 July 2014
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A graveyard shift is a work shift that starts late in the evening and ends early in the morning. Examples of this shift would be 10:00 p.m. until 6:30 a.m. or midnight until 8:00 a.m. Other names for the graveyard shift include the midnight shift, third shift or simply the night shift.

There are several stories to explain the origins of the term graveyard shift. One such story involves people who watched graveyards in the 19th century. They supposedly needed to rig caskets with bells in case a “corpse” happened to wake up on their shift. This story does not seem to have a basis in truth, however. The term graveyard shift is used, instead, simply to compare the quietness of the late night hours to that of a graveyard. It is also a relatively new term, having much to do with industrialization. It has been estimated that in developed countries, nearly twenty percent of the working population work night shifts.

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A graveyard shift can be available for many different types of work. There has been an increase in the amount of late shift jobs due to many employers choosing to keep their doors open throughout the night. Some workplaces have no choice but to have night shifts. A prime example of this is a hospital that must stay open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The employees of a hospital, such as doctors, nurses and orderlies, must sometimes rotate their shifts so that the hospital can remain staffed at all times. Other careers that often require late hours include police officers, gas station attendants, convenience store clerks, airline crews, and several facets of the media. If not for the graveyard shift, the insomniac would have nothing to watch on television at three o'clock in the morning.

Employees are often paid a premium for working the graveyard shift. It is sometimes necessary because of the unpopularity of the graveyard shift. This reputation is due largely to the simple fact that most people are sleeping in the middle of the night and prefer this over working. The night shift is also often associated with more of a criminal element, making the night shift a more dangerous shift to work.

It certainly takes a special kind of person to work at hours when most of the population is not around. There are also several benefits associated with the graveyard shift that the worker can take advantage of. These include being able to avoid rush hour traffic, do errands with less people around and make appointments without having to take time off of work.

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anon82124
Post 3

We vampires on the graveyard shift put ourselves in jeopardy but it is our choice. i work a shift at a bar in laughlin nevada as bars are 24/7. i like it. I see my kids more, also.

I can be sleeping any time of the day and i'm not questioned by the wife. i just say hey babe, didn't sleep well today or i work graveyard.

plus nobody wants your job, no boss to bug you and that's how i got hired -- i asked for graveyard knowing i would get hired a lot easier. I've been on the shift for almost three years and my favorite feature is i am the boss.

I don't have to serve anyone i don't want to or I can throw them out. my boss will back me 110 percent. There are some dangers but I'm not scared.

A young man wanted to kick my butt two years ago. He was 20 years my junior and I'm sure in better shape. i had no choice but to club him with my half pool stick. He went to jail with a broken arm. The cops and my boss backed me all the way so come on down to laughlin, nevada. later, doug bartender

anon81559
Post 2

I am on week two of the graveyard shift. We start Sunday night. The biggest benefit I have found is that I have time with my family for breakfast and am able to have dinner with them if also.

Day shift is always preferred but graveyard is much better than swing shift - I did that for a few years. Swingshift is a personal life killer. Graveyard at least gives you a shot at having a life outside of work.

elfi64
Post 1

Some people choose to work graveyard shift because it is the only option they have, especially if small children are involved.

What is good about it is that one parent is at home at night, while the other is working, and the second parent is at home during the day, so the children always have a parent at home.

It is a difficult shift though. It takes time to adjust. Our body clocks are programmed a certain way which does not include being up night after night at three or four a.m.

What is most difficult, but very important is to get enough sleep. Some people sleep first thing when they get home, while others sleep in the afternoon and get up when it is time to get ready for work. There is a third group that sleeps piece meal. A few hours here and a few hours there. If it accumulates to seven or eight hours a day it might be fine.

There are some people who rearrange their life around their night shift, and they do not want to go to a different shift even if they have the opportunity.

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