I never thought I’d come back to working night shifts. My first experience working rotating shifts was at a hospital in my early twenties. I loved my job as a clerk and didn’t particularly mind working nights, but when life changed I was quite content to leave the night shift behind. It had given me insight into the life of shift workers and their particular challenges but I definitely didn’t plan on re-joining their ranks.
Then life took another turn. When I applied for a posted position at the local hospital, it didn’t give any indication which department was hiring. In discussing my application with a friend, I laid down my criteria: “I’ll work in any department of the hospital, except the Emergency Room. I’ll do ICU, I’ll do the chemo unit, but I will not go back to rotating shifts in a chaotic environment.”
The next day, the hospital called with an interview offer. The catch? The only position available was in the ER. Night shifts were mandatory.
And thus began my journey back to working nights and sleeping days. The night shift is a mandatory part of my job. I could try to transfer into another department – pretty much any other department- and my night owl schedule would be over. As desirable as that sounds, especially around 4 a.m. on a busy night, I can’t swallow the idea of banking hours. The only way I can handle a job in a non-creative environment is if I have a changing schedule that gives me stretches off to pursue my hobbies and come up for air. This girl was not cut out for a Monday to Friday 9-5 job.
Shift work doesn’t just affect schedules. It also affects workers’ health. Shift workers are more likely to eat irregularly and unhealthily, sacrifice sleep, and find it hard to fit in exercise. The World Health Organization has actually linked regular shift work with serious illnesses and even labelled it as a probable carcinogen due to circadian disruption. Shift workers are also more at risk of weight gain and heart disease than those who work during the day. Yikes.
No wonder you might want a little advice on how to combat the negative effects of the night shift. You’ve come to the right place!
The goal of this site is to help you fight back against the ill effects of night shift work by arming yourself with solutions. Regardless of why you’ve ended up grinding away on the night shift, the challenges you face must be managed with common sense strategies:
- Master the art of clean eating.
- Set a solid sleep routine.
- Find time for fitness.
You’ll also find loads of advice on other aspects of working the night shift- like keeping a social schedule, packing a work bag, and driving home safely. The best approach is to build a solid routine for night shift work and stick with it. This will let you create a healthy lifestyle that is enjoyable and distinctive from day workers. The goal is to stay healthy, alert and feel your best at work and at home.
So now fellow nights owls, it’s onward to the night shift!
Note: There are some people who simply cannot function on the night shift. They have tried everything and they cannot make it work. Sometimes it’s a physiological reason- like hormonal issues or circadian rhythm issues. Sometimes it’s a scheduling conflict re: family responsibilities, etc. The point of the information on this website isn’t to convince anyone to stay on the night shift who is suffering from it. Instead, this site is designed for people who are looking for ideas on how to make night shifts work better for them. It’s an individual thing so do what works for you and always consult with a health professional for medical advice.