Night Shift Blues

The worst shift I ever worked was a 3-7:30 shift loading freight onto planes in Portland. Wet, windy, cold on the damp days, hot and windy when it was warm, and I had to walk uphill both ways to work. But at least there was time to deal with normal life that working night shift doesn’t give me.

My manager remarked to me that night-shifters tend to, “have a bit of chip on our shoulders, almost like the world owes you something.” Damn right I do. I’m up when most sane and rational people are asleep. I sleep when the rest of the world is doing there thing. If someone is loud, obnoxious when day shift sleeps, they can call the cops. Me? I’m outta luck.

So yes, I have a chip about it. The world wants 24-7 care, a 24-7 society, but does little to accommodate it. One of these needs has to give. Soon.



  1. Considering the fact that working night shifts puts us in a long-term sleep deficit, destroys quality time with our families, and multiplies our risk factors for weight gain and a host of lethal diseases, we have plenty of rationale for a ‘chip on our shoulders’.

    And, what IS it with the mandatory training and meetings in the middle of our sleep periods, anyway? Just try to pull the “8 hours between shifts” card for those babies.

    Not surprisingly, I’ve found that any attempt to simply improve awareness of our struggles is seen in a negative light. (Pun intended.)

    Thanks for your post. You’ve a lot of company!


  2. Interestingly enough….when I worked in the USA…there was more of a split between D and N crews because you worked one or the other.

    Every hospital I worked in Canada had most all RNs working every shift…DD/NN or some such rotation that included both N and D.

    I found that there was more tolerance between the D and N shifts in Canada…and less grousing about each other when all had to work both….and maybe that’s the solution.

    Those who complain – work that other shift for a while…..


    1. Straight nights are hard on the body, flipping back and forth is even worse. It just makes everyone miserable, more prone to errors due to rhythm disruption and sleep disturbance and generally does not conduct itself well to our business.


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