What is the Best Working Shift for CNAs?

Many CNAs find it difficult to work a full eight-hour shift. The constant influx of patients and being on your feet can help wear down even the most enthusiastic CNA.

So, what is the best working shift for CNA professionals, and how do you know which one is right for you? Here we will talk about each shift as well as their pros and cons.

The Day Shifts

CNAs who work on the day shift typically work from 7 AM-7 PM or 8 AM-4 PM five days a week. This leaves very little time for anything else outside of your mandatory forty-hour workweek.

Many people prefer to work during the day because you can take part in after-work activities and outings. The environment is also generally more lively and energetic since there are numerous employees around as well as visitors, patients, etc.

What are some pros? It is no secret that these nurses receive the best benefits out of all employees working in the hospital industry. They also tend to be paid higher hourly wages than those with other types of schedules which can help with living costs and bills, not to mention it encourages employees to be more productive knowing they will be compensated fairly.


  • You get to go home earlier than night nurses! Though it may seem less hectic at first glance, many nurses notice that they tend to have more “down time” which can lead to boredom and a lack of stimulation.
  • Daytime workers also typically will not deal with as much physical or emotional stress as those who work nights so these individuals usually report higher quality of life overall.
  • Another great benefit working days entails is you spend the morning/early afternoon getting your work done and then having the rest of the day to yourself.


  • Nurses on days typically receive fewer paid holidays and less vacation time than night shift employees do.
  • Being a full-time student or parent might make working days difficult due to conflicts with school hours, child pick-up times, etc.

Who is suitable for the day shift? Nurses who workdays tend to be full-time students or parents with spouses/children at home. Since there are generally fewer family responsibilities during this time, it is easier for these individuals to dedicate their entire day to the hospital.

Additionally, nurses who have children that go to school during the day will usually prefer working on days. As previously mentioned, it will be easier to care for their kids on the days they are home vs nights when they are at work. Also, Nurses who prefer not working nights for various reasons will generally choose the day shift.

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The Evening Shift

Nurses who work from 4 PM-12 AM or 5 PM-1 AM typically work four, twelve-hour shifts a week. Some hospitals will allow nurses to do three, eight-hour shifts for this schedule as well as others permitting two days on and then two days off.

You’ll also find some facilities that require you to work every other weekend on the evening shift. This type of schedule works best for those with children because school hours usually end before midnight at the earliest possible time.


  • Some pros to working evening shifts are you get to leave earlier than nurses on graveyard and if your family is older or already in bed when you head home you can have some “you” time before bed.
  • Working nights has also been shown to reduce depression rates relative to other shift patterns giving you more mental clarity throughout your days off.
  • Similar to those on days, nurses working evenings tend to have more free time during the week. This is a great way for students or parents to spend more time with their families or do other activities they enjoy doing outside of work hours.


  • Nurses working evenings may have to miss out on family gatherings and social events that take place during the day. As previously mentioned, this work schedule might not be ideal if you’re a parent or student as there is usually conflicts with school hours, child pick-up times, etc.
  • Overtime pay tends to be less available for nurses working during this shift as well so it’s a good idea to check with your manager at the hospital you’re employed at.

Who is suitable for the evening shift? Similar to those who prefer days, nurses with children tend to prefer working evenings since they have most of their time free after their family goes to bed. Teenagers and students often prefer working this shift because they have more time outside of work to spend with friends and family. Working nights has been shown to reduce depression rates but might conflict with classes depending on the school you attend.

Nurses who attend classes during the day or teenagers looking to make a little extra cash tend to prefer working evening shifts since it falls later in the day and students have more opportunities to pick up an extra shift if need be. These types of night workers have fewer responsibilities that require their attention during the day, making this type of schedule quite popular among them.

The Night Shifts

Nurses working the night shift typically work from 7 PM-7 AM or 8 PM-4 AM five days a week. Most hospitals have at least a few night shifts available to their staff members.

There is a common misconception that only “lazy employees” work night shifts and view them as less important than days or evenings. This couldn’t be further from the truth and many nurses enjoy working nights since it provides more freedom during the day.

Although this type of schedule may seem easier because of fewer people around during those hours, there are actually quite a few cons associated with them as well. For example, night nurses often miss out on after-work socializing, outings with their children, and other family activities.


  • Nights typically involve less patient contact which allows nurses to focus more on their tasks without being interrupted.
  • Night nurses often receive better benefits since they typically work fewer hours per week than daytime employees.
  • Another benefit of working nights is you get to sleep in!
  • They also get more time off during the day which means more mommy/daddy time!


  • Perhaps one of the biggest drawbacks of this schedule is social isolation which can lead to high levels of stress as well as causing problems in relationships with family and friends.
  • As stated above night nurses can be pushed to their limits without anyone around to help them if needed.
  • Nurses who work the night shift also run the risk of developing sleep disorders such as insomnia and even narcolepsy. Many just simply do not function well during those hours which increases the chance of mistakes being made.

Who is suitable for the night shift? This type of schedule is not for everyone, but for those who have been on days for years, it can be a nice change of pace. Essentially, you just need to know yourself and your schedule needs before accepting an on-call position.

Night shifters should have a strong knowledge of their limits and what they are capable of so as to avoid burnout. Also, those who do not feel social isolation is an issue or can easily distract themselves from it tend to fare well on this type of schedule.

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The Rotating Shifts

This schedule is a mixture of days, evenings, and nights. The nurses work a day shift for a week or two and then switch to the night shift for another group of weeks. This type of schedule tends to be very demanding because your body never actually knows what time it is which can wreak havoc on your sleeping patterns as well as metabolism!

In addition, this type of schedule does not typically allow you to take any time off from work since you do not know when you are working until that particular block starts.


  • Nurses who work rotating shifts often receive more vacation time than those on straight nights or days.
  • These schedules take a large toll on your body so nursing students might consider this option if they have trouble staying awake during lectures.


  • The cons associated with this shift are vast, however. The biggest drawback is that rotating shift workers tend to have elevated levels of stress, anxiety, and depression than their counterparts on other shifts. This is due to the fact that they are constantly worrying about how their work schedule may be changing up next.
  • Not only do rotating shift workers have trouble sleeping, but they suffer from high blood pressure as well which can lead to risks for heart disease and other health problems down the line.

Who is suitable for the Rotating shift? Those best suited for this type of schedule are night owls that love staying up late and on-call for emergencies. Nurses on rotating shifts often adjust their sleep schedules to be able to work the many different times during which they will need to be on call.

Typically nurses who do not like their personal time being taken away or who cannot learn to sleep in short spurts throughout the day would be better suited for another type of schedule.

The Swing Shifts

The swing shift is basically a combination of both day and evening shifts rolled into one long 12-hour period. These types of schedules typically consist of two days on and two days off or three days on and four days off. This means you might work from 7:00 AM – 5:00 PM one day and then again 11:00 PM – 7:00 AM the following day. Employees working these non-traditional schedules generally stay with the same days for at least one month.


  • These employees also tend to receive more vacation time than those working days. Swing shift nurses frequently earn higher hourly wages than normal because of these added benefits.


  • The lack of socializing that comes along with the night shift is also present in this type of schedule which often leads to loneliness and isolation.
  • Swing shifts are extremely difficult on new parents since there is no set routine what so ever!
  • Work/life balance can be hard to maintain on swing shifts since the hours are so mixed up.

Who is suitable for the swing shift? Many people are attracted to these types of schedules because they offer more freedom than other nursing jobs. This might mean that you will have better opportunities for advancement or other bonuses, but don’t expect your schedule to always remain consistent. People who work well in this sort of environment are night owls who love the excitement and variety associated with swinging between days and nights.

Making The Decision

Clearly, there are pros and cons associated with each shift so it is up to you (or your supervisor) to determine what is best for you. Although many CNAs are able to enjoy working both types of shifts, some simply cannot handle the stress that comes along with each type of schedule. Be sure to think about your lifestyle and what you would be willing to sacrifice in order to land on the shift that is right for you!