I'm typically an 8-5 worker, but recently I found out for one day I may have to work overnight. This is due to a customer that doesn't want to close during the day for an upgrade.

I've never worked 3rd shift in my life so I have no idea how long it will take for my body to transition from overnight to day time again. I plan to work the day before, do things around the house after work, then just stay up until 7am while doing the work. I don't think that will be a problem, but I will be dead tired when I go to sleep. If I sleep at 7am, I'll probably wake up at around the time I would normally get off work. So that's one day gone, then I can sleep late (3am) that night because I won't be tired for a while. Wake up earlier, but still too late for work (noon-1pm), then go back to my normal schedule the next day.

So is it acceptable for me to ask for 2 days off after the overnight work or would an average boss most likely think I'm taking advantage of the situation?

  • How old are you?
    – bharal
    Nov 26, 2019 at 15:20
  • 1
    Note that you are only asking for 1 day off, not 2. The day off is the Thursday; you've already worked Wednesday (13 hours earlier than you would normally). Do you have any option toe work from home? And do you have any flexibility in rescheduling this to be on a specific day of the week?
    – user81330
    Nov 26, 2019 at 15:52
  • Do you have to work the full day before or could you start work at (say) 3pm? What day of the week is the upgrade (assuming you work Monday to Friday normally?) Nov 26, 2019 at 20:16
  • What country are you from? In my country you have a System called "rest time" -> You have to have at least 8 hous of rest between the time of your work ends and starts. everything which violates this "rest time" you are granted "compensatory rest" - so e.g. you start at monday, stop work at 5pm and start working again at 10pm until 4am tuesday, you have 8 hours of compensatory rest - you don't have to work on tuesday. Just check if such a system also exists in your country or your contract covers it :)
    – Insax
    Nov 28, 2019 at 12:38
  • I am a bit confused you mention "shifts" but then imply that you are in a professional tech job when you say "upgrade" Nov 28, 2019 at 21:12

4 Answers 4


In my experience, there have been two main ways this is handled

  1. Do your normal shift, do your second shift, go home and sleep. Go in halfway through your normal shift and end at the normal time (working 4 hours). Start your day normally on the second day, and leave early (working 4 hours). This ends up evening you out.
  2. Do your normal shift, start your second shift, go home and sleep, and don't come in for your normal shift that day. Return to normal your second day. This is my preferred.

Transitioning back to a "normal" schedule after one overnight is not an undue burden, unless it becomes a regular thing.

  • I can't think when I last saw 'evening' written as a verb.
    – Strawberry
    Nov 26, 2019 at 15:35
  • @Strawberry even-ing, (make or become even), not the time. :) Nov 26, 2019 at 15:36
  • I do #2 every once in a while. It always works out fine...for me.
    – noslenkwah
    Nov 26, 2019 at 16:25

Is two days an acceptable amount of time to catch up when working overnight?

It depends.

For example, me (and some folks I know), pulled many all-nighter (production upgrade activities), took a day off (the next day), and we were back to work the day after that. So a 1-day off was enough for us to be able to get back to the flow.

On the other hand, I've seen people, who needed the remainder of the week to get back in rhythm. Even after the day-off, for the entire week, they arrived at work looking sleepy, leaving early and appearing distracted - they needed the weekend to get over with the dis-balance.

In my experience, there's no silver bullet - just do what you feel right for you. If you need 2 days of time to get back in the natural flow - ask for it. A sensible manager would understand that - as a fully charged engineer after two days off will deliver more work in the end, than a distracted engineer returning to work after one-day off. (See the second part of my example)

Considering that the extra shift day is in the first half of the week (and you're got following workdays), the most common pattern for these sort of activities (my personal experience, again):

  • Day 0 - Working the extra shift(s).
  • Day 1 - Off-work. Relax (don't open your mailbox) and unwind.
  • Day 2 - Use the first half for a slow start. Start working in the second half.
  • Day 3 - Business as usual.
  • @RobbinvanderJagt Ahh.. Off-by-one. :) Nov 26, 2019 at 16:10
  • Tried to make an edit for you, but it required 6 characters Nov 26, 2019 at 16:10
  • @RobbinvanderJagt No problem, thanks for the note, I've corrected the typo. Nov 26, 2019 at 16:12


  • Monday, normal day
  • Tuesday, normal day + working until 7am of Wednesday

Then I would expect you back on Thursday, at your usual start time. I would, depending on your age/state of health, expect you to maybe have a little weird time-zoneing around thursday (maybe turning up at 11am instead of 9am say, and working until your normal end time), and that would be the end of it.

If you're quite old, or quite infirm, then I probably wouldn't expect you in on Thursday, or if so at something like 1pm.

  • In the military if you worked a graveyard shift (12:00 AM to 8 AM), you would typically be off the next 16 hours. It's not clear if the author is going to work 2 shifts, or switch to the graveyard shift, in order to support 24 hours of work. (8 AM to 4 PM, 4 PM to 12:00 AM, 12:00 AM to 8 AM) are typical shift hours to support something for 24 hours a day. If you were switching to the same shift multiple days a row then you would indeed typically get a day off, work the remainder of the 40 hour work week, then receive the traditional second day off.
    – Donald
    Nov 26, 2019 at 20:19

All the other answers seem to address how to handle an overnight shift and when you should expect to be back to normal. I would think about this more from the why perspective.

You said you normally do 8-5 and you never worked a night shift before. So this is definitely unusual for you and not part of your regular job. So you are doing something very special for the customer/your boss. Your boss should reward you for going the extra mile.

Now you ask yourself whether you want a reward in the form of an extra day off, some extra cash or just in the form of improved reputation. Doing more than the usual will improve your value to the company. The way you want to benefit from it depends on your long term goals.

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