For nearly two years now, I've been one of the nearly 10% of the american work population that works the night shift. I enjoy working the hours that I do, because for the most part my job tends to be quiet, peaceful and reasonably stress free. Working an opposite schedule to most other people, and one that goes against what your body wants to do isn't without disadvantages too, however, which I will explain in detail in this article.
The primary shift I work for most of my work week is an 8pm to 8am shift. This is a nice shift because it makes the work week go by fast, because most of my work hours are over in three work days. For someone new to working overnight, a 12 hour shift is a long, lonely and boring shift to work. I got used to these hours within a short time of starting work and as a result the nights seem to fly by.
Working nights is definitely a lot different from working a standard shift. The work culture and environment is usually a lot more relaxed because it's difficult to find people willing to work over night and the work load is often less fast paced with more downtime. This of course changes based on the job, but at my job, which is night shift technical support, there isn't a lot of work to do most of the time and the job is somewhat boring but at the same time peaceful. The night shift job sometimes is lonely, because there are few people working at night in comparison to the day shift. My job runs a skeleton crew of two people at night, but during the day there are usually around 15. You end up knowing your coworkers very well, but there aren't many people to talk to.
Another benefit to a night job, and one that I happen to love, is not having to fight traffic. Due to the hours worked, night shift workers generally end up going in opposite directions of all the day shift workers. So in the morning when I'm driving home, I get to have a laugh at all the day shift people stuck in traffic.
So, if the night shift has all these benefits to it, what are the downsides you ask? Well I'll be happy to cover those too. The first bad thing about night shift is that it has been proven to be hard on the body over time. You are essentially forcing your body to work against what the natural clock inside of all of us wants to do, which stresses your body and takes a lot out of us. Some research has shown that night shift workers have a higher cancer rate than the general public. Also, because night shift workers are awake all night and sleep during the daylight, we don't get much sunlight. This means our bodies don't make proper amounts of Vitamin D, and we have to supplement it for good health.
It's also a pain trying to get things done when you work a night shift, because the rest of the world runs based on the schedules of everyone else. Although you can find places like grocery stores that are open 24 hours, which is certainly convenient, most places are not open we need them. Getting to the post office or the bank for example, can be rather inconvenient.
Having a social life is a challenge when you work nights, because you are at work when everyone you know is available to do stuff, and they're at work when you're not. As long as you don't work weekends, you can still find time to do things on the weekend when you're off work though. I work during the week, and can switch my schedule back and forth as I need to, it's a skill I've learned to have any sort of social life at all.
When you're not used to it, it's difficult to sleep during the day. All the daylight pouring in through the windows makes it difficult to sleep, and when you do sleep you get lighter and less restful sleep. Fortunately, there is an easy solution to this, which is to put up heavy light blocking curtains. Eclipse is a great brand of these, and I have some myself. These curtains also help on energy bills because they insulate your windows and they also muffle out a little of the extra noise coming in from outside.
I hope this guide has helped explain the good and bad things to working a night shift job. I enjoy working like I do, though I'm sure I won't want to stay on a night shift forever.