Tips from Shift Workers

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Dan T.: Lighting technician for TV commercials Dan

What is your shift schedule?

Start times range from 4am to 4pm and are often scheduled without much notice. Days are almost always 12 hours minimum. 

What is your biggest challenge about working shifts?

When I was younger and single, the hours didn’t matter. I’d come home whenever, shower, sleep, get up, repeat. When I wasn’t working, I would travel, socialize and relax. Now that I’m married with more responsibilities, the extreme change in life at home between working and non-working days is brutal, and sleep loss is the worst. Commercial productions are only obligated to allow you 10 hours between when you are “wrapped” and the next day’s call time.  So if it takes 90 minutes to get home, I have total of 8.5 hours to shower, sleep, get up and make the drive back in to work. 

Since my type of job is unpredictable, my “down days” can often be spent worrying about when the next job will come, recuperating from the job I just finished, or avoiding making committed social plans with friends and family for fear I’ll have to break them at a moment’s notice.

What helps me…

The best thing for me, truly, is sleep. It all comes down to rest and recuperation.  Catching up with friends or family after a day at work has a direct negative effect on how much sleep I’ll get that night.  So I come home, try to “bullet point” the day with my wife, and go to sleep. Blackout curtains are a must.

I really try to get eight hours of sleep.  It takes discipline to do this. There are bills to pay, dogs that need walking, emails to check and TV shows I love. If I get home at 9pm, I can sit at my computer and it is suddenly 11:30pm.  So instead I come home, clean up, talk to my (very understanding) wife, and go to bed.  

 

Marvin R.: BaristaMarvin R

What is your shift schedule?

I usually work mornings, starting at 4am and ending as late as 1:30pm. Sometimes I work afternoons and nights if help is needed. 

What is your biggest challenge about working shifts?

The biggest challenges about working shifts are planning social activities and sleep loss. If I work in the morning, I wake up at 3:30am, so if I go out the night before, I will have to deal with the consequences of getting little to no sleep. I’ve decided that if it is not worth losing sleep over it I probably won’t go out, or I’ll just go out to make an “appearance,” and get home quickly to sleep as much as I can.

What helps me…

What helps me to keep going is having a hobby to take my mind off work and school and that doesn't leave me feeling drained or groggy. I make the best of my schedule because I get off early and I still have a lot of time to do other things that I enjoy. I also try to fit in a nap to recharge.  

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