Thursday, August 23, 2007

working night shift

The story about no link between working the night shift and increased cancer risk caught my eye. As someone who preferred to work nights over any other shift, this gave me reason to pause.

I always preferred night shift – not because the work was easier (often it’s not) but because there was something about the shift that appealed to me. When I worked in intensive care, the work we had during the night was exactly the same as during the day, but there were fewer people coming and going, fewer tests being run, fewer visitors, and so on. It allowed us to do our work and spend time with our patients.

When I worked in palliative care, I liked being able to talk to the patients who couldn’t sleep, speak with family members who stayed over night but they couldn’t sleep, giving support and an understanding ear whenever needed.

Of course, in certain situations, working nights is somewhat easier than days or evenings. At night, we didn’t have a lot of the daily routines, but what a lot of people forget is that also when working nights, our bodies are doing something that isn’t natural. While there are night owls out there, many of the night nurses are not true night owls. Trying to get a good quality sleep during the day is not the easiest thing in the world and the sleep deprivation builds up.

I remember once working in a situation where the day nurses were extremely critical of what the night nurses did and didn’t do. It finally reached a boiling point and until we could get them to work a good slew of nights – not just a few here or there – they wouldn’t understand. That caused hard feelings between the shifts – and that shouldn’t happen.

There are so many people who work night shifts, from nurses to firefighters to bus drivers and so many more. The interesting thing is that a huge proportion of these night workers have incredible responsibilities, often holding the safety of fellow humans in their hands.

So, I guess this ramble was a bit about how I liked to work nights, how I wish people would be more understanding of those who worked nights (even coworkers!), and I just felt like writing about it. :-)

News for today:
Study Finds No Link Between Working The Night Shift And An Increased Risk Of Cancer
Gastric bypass reduces mortality risk in severely obese patients
Half of Canadians physically inactive, StatsCan says
Diabetes control a must before heart surgery
Results of Lasik not always clear


Crabby McSlacker said...

Interesting to hear the perspective of someone who works nights--I'd find it really hard myself!

It's funny, I just finished putting together my 'random' post for tomorrow and I cited a couple of these same studies. We seem to find many of the same stories interesting! Though you're both quicker and more thorough in your coverage than I am!

Anonymous said...


I'm going to be starting on night shift (1900 - 0730) in a couple of weeks. Do you have any pointers for adjusting and getting enough sleep? I have a tentative "sleep schedule" to be sure I'll get my zzzz's. Thanks!