Sunday, April 18, 2010

The world of overnight work

In many workplaces, the differences the day shift and the overnight shift are quite literally night and day. Life goes at a different pace.

The news industry is one of those cases. Although there is always the potential for hectic breaking news, third-shift journalists are sometimes able to dial back their usual frantic pace. Last week a staff photographer for the New York Times posted a gallery of pictures taken while she was on the clock overnights. The normally crowded streets of the big apple she depicts in her photos resemble colorful moonscapes.

Other careers, like law enforcement or emergency response, can actually pick up the pace in the early morning hours.

This American Life found an interesting case of this. In December, Ira Glass and his staff at Chicago Public Radio dedicated an entire show to the world that happens while most people are asleep.

In “Act One: Orange You Glad I Didn’t Say Banana?” A reporting team profiled a bustling overnight fruit and vegetable marketplace in the Bronx, and the traders’ everyday triumphs and frustrations.

Many of the people interviewed in the segment swore by the 3rd shift. For others it was a love-hate relationship. The reporter notes a lot of the workers at the marketplace were divorced. Most blamed the night shift for “getting in the way of life.”

A list of worst jobs for sleep

A sleep strategy for overnight workers

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