For The Right Type Of Mind, Graveyard Shift Rocks.

I have been working as a night auditor at a hotel at the base of a ski area since the end of the summer. I like the job because there's almost no actual work to do and my boss doesn't care how I spend my down time as long as I'm sober and awake. I work most of my shifts wearing slippers, surfing the net, reading, and blaring Dead shows (In fact, I am working right now and writing this to kill time since the night audit is done and nothing ever happens in the early morning!). I took the job because I get to ski every single day which is pretty much a dream come true for me. I get off work at 7 and have plenty of time to get breakfast, change, have a "safety meeting" with the lifties and snow shovelers, even take a cat nap if I feel like it. I don't have to deal with the rat race driving up to the resort in the morning and I always get first chair on powder days. Pretty much every day I ski with friends that work afternoon/evening/graveyard shifts or are just unemployed so I never really feel like I'm sacrificing my social life.

Usually I'll ski until noon or so, but if it's really good I'll ski right through until the lifts close at four - I'll gladly trade sleep for skiing. I've never had any luck with maintaining the sleep schedule on my days off. I split the week 4/3 with the other night auditor on a rotating basis. Keeping up the weird schedule over three days off is tough, over four days it's nearly impossible. Plus, I usually end up drinking and partying on my nights off and it's nearly impossible to stay awake all night when you've been at the bar until one. The first night back is rough but after that I don't have any problem. I'm exhausted after I get home from skiing after working all night and have no problem falling asleep. I black out my window and put in ear plugs and put my phone alarm on vibrate under my pillow and wake up refreshed in time to take a shower and get to work at 10.

Before there was snow, I'd hike up the mountain in the morning and watch the sun rise. Sometimes I would ride my road bike to work. Slogging up the hill with nothing but a headlamp to see by wasn't much fun, but flying down the windy little mountain pass at 7 in the morning watching the sunrise was downright spiritual. Sometimes I'd meet up with people in town going for an early pre-work ride and ride with them.

I think the keys to making it graveyard shift work are getting plenty of exercise, eating healthy food at regular times, and sleeping right before your shift as opposed to right after it. Exercise and eating right especially are HUGE! A lot of third shift workers (like the other night auditor that works at the hotel I do) live really unhealthy lifestyles. Living off junk food, drinking tons of caffeine, and never exercising. The reality is that you need to eat healthier and exercise MORE than someone on a regular shift to counteract the stress working weird hours and (usually) not getting enough sleep puts on your body. I bring a big cooler full of fruit, veggies, crackers, cheese, hummus, dark chocolate, and other healthy stuff to munch on instead of eating vending machine junk and ramen noodles. I used to drink coffee all night but now I limit it to the first few hours of my shift and switch to tea for the early morning hours. Much easier on the stomach and less caffeine so it is easier to sleep in the afternoon.

I always get a second wind when the sun rises - I think it's just a biological thing that you can't overcome. Instead of trying to sleep right after work I get some exercise and wear myself out and by the time I want to go to sleep I'm exhausted and sleep comes easy. I also black out the windows, lock my door, and put in some ear plugs.  Most people aren't purposefully inconsiderate but they just can't wrap their head around the fact that this is your actual sleep for the night, not just a nap, so they make lots of noise or wake you up for stupid things.

It's not for everyone - most people balk at the idea when I tell them I work third shift. But, if you are single or have an understanding spouse and no kids it can definitely work really well. There are MUCH worse schedules than graveyard - I spent a whole summer working on a tomato farm where the schedule was 4am-1pm and the hours were miserable compared to graveyard Everyone thinks that it must be terribly lonely, but I haven't found it to be nearly as socially alienating people make it out to be. There are plenty of people that aren't working in the morning that are usually just as stoked as you are to find someone to hang out with. You can easily meet people that work normal schedules for dinner or a drink before your shift (just sip tonic water instead of a beer).

There are also some undeniable benefits: you usually only work three/four days a week graveyard shift which makes it a lot more bearable, and the pay is almost always more than day shift. I get paid a full $2/hr more and do much less work than the day shift front desk people at the hotel. I think you do have to have a different sort of outlook to deal with working night shift. You definitely have to be comfortable entertaining yourself for long periods of time and be creative enough to figure out how to mesh your funky schedule with the normal schedules of others. If you've been entertaining the idea, give it a try - you might actually enjoy it, and if you end up quitting after a week your boss won't be surprised as it happens all the time.
surffrozenwaves surffrozenwaves
2 Responses Nov 27, 2010

i like working night shift in a hotel too, although when i do work night shift, i dont get paid any more money for it!! i know a lot of people like working night shift, particularly in hotels, cos there is little to do, apart from set up for breakfast, and run the night audit, but i personally prefer to be working, and i like it on night shift cos i can get all the little jobs done that i cant get done any other time, and on top of it all, whenever i feel like taking a coffee break, or sit down for a while, i can, which isnt always possible on any other shift, so its like having the best of both worlds!!

very true. i work nights too. one of the things that i enjoy most is the fact that i dont have to rush into having breakfast and make a run for it to beat the traffic in the morning as soon as i wake up, like i used to. now i go to sleep when i feel tired and wake up when i am rested. and have plenty of time on both ends!