Early in my career, I never imagined working the night shift. In fact, it was not until I worked my first travel contract that I was forced to. The first night I thought I was coming down with the flu. I felt hot and cold, sweaty, nauseous. I somehow survived and by the time my thirteen-week contract ended, I was sold on nights. That was over ten years ago and I continue to prefer nights to this day. While there are many advantages to working night shift, the following are some of the day to day dilemmas a night shifter faces:
We Sleep During the Day
We, like everyone else, sleep after a long shift. It just happens to be during the day. Please refrain from calling us in our deep sleep (around 12) to see if we can come in early or if we want to meet for lunch. It would be like us calling you at midnight to make plans. Any night shifter knows that if they are disturbed deep in their slumber, they might not be able to fall back to sleep.
The Lazy Misconception
There is a common misconception that night shifters are lazy. We are not lazy. We work hard on nights, just in a different way than days. We are a skeleton crew with far fewer resources compared to day shift. We fight to stay awake and think critically. Right around 3 am is the most challenging hour for most of us and it is likely the time when an acute admission occurs. It’s a little like taking an Ambien and then heading to work. On that note, be patient with us when we are giving report. We are not at our sharpest. We have spent the entire night fighting the body’s innate ability to shut down.
We Try Our Best to Be Social
We are tired essentially all of the time. We may slouch at your dinner party between the first and second course. It’s not that the food is bad or the conversation dry, it’s just our bed is calling. We have even been known to occasionally fall asleep during movie nights. We show up because we do not want to miss out-even if we have only slept 3-4 hours in the last 24.
Planning Can Be Tricky
Our ability to make and keep plans with our friends who have a normal 9-5 schedule is challenging. We work varying shifts that include weekends and holidays. Please do not accuse us of being antisocial. Try to understand that we do not work in the same way you do. We will try our best, but we may not make it to that birthday dinner you are planning on a Saturday.
3 Nights a Week Does Not Translate to Easy Job
We only work three nights a week, but we spend the days we are off recovering from the nights we worked. We try extremely hard on our days off to normalize and re-acclimate to a day schedule so that we can spend time with our friends and family. The truth is, most days we feel like an extra on the set of The Walking Dead.