Living and Working in Shift


By : Johannes Bambang Wirawan


Our Body Rhythms are not designed to work after midnight. Despite our current Global economy however, we rely more on shift workers. Why? Because without them Cities will not have running waters and electricity, no Internet connections, burglaries and security breaches will happen everywhere, business services will be paralyzed, production and manufacturing will be put on hold, and sick people will be left stranded. What if you are one of the shift workers? Is it possible to work in irregular hours and keep your good quality of life? The answer is definitely yes. In the following paragraphs, they will tell you how to cope if you work irregular hours.


The first thing you need to know is your body. Our body is controlled by rhythms called the Circadian Rhythms. The term "circadian" comes from the Latin word circa, meaning "around", and diem or dies, meaning "day". In short, humans have their own time keeping mechanism or Body Clock. Each persons Body Clock tells when to eat and sleep, but each person has his or her own rhythm. A person who prefers to wake up early can be considered to be a Lark and a late person can be considered to be an Owl.


From 10 AM to 12 PM, your body automatically increases the body energy level, temperature of your body rises, your digestive system anticipate for a meal, your coordination and physical ability enhanced, and your eyes easily focused. This is the reason why we can think effectively, concentrate easily, be imaginative, and work our very best in this particular time. We will be sleepy from 1 PM to 3 PM after we have our lunch because within these hours the body is experiencing micro sleep. To avoid this micro sleep it will help by drinking a cup of coffee, green tea, or white tea (not black tea) to keep you awake. The body temperature and alertness rises from 4 to 6 PM and you will not feel sleepy from 5 PM to 9 PM. You will probably want to go to bed around 10 PM to 2 AM. The deepest sleep is around 2 AM to 4 AM. An adult needs to sleep around 7 to 8 hours in day. Sleep serves a variety of purposes, including tissue repair and the consolidation of memory and learning. If you do not have enough sleep for a day, it will influence your performance the next day. Not sleeping for many days can lead to health problems e.g. Typhoid and Dengue Fever.


Generally, most companies that have 7x24 phone support service schedule their employees to work in shifts and usually there are 3 shifts. Morning Shift starts from 7 AM to 3 PM, Day Shift starts from 3 PM to 10 PM, and Night Shift starts from 10 PM to 7 AM. These companies usually focus on their service delivery support whether via telephone or e-mail to their customers efficiently based on predetermine Service Level Agreement.



The most difficult thing in doing your night shift or graveyard shift is you are against your normal daily rhythm. You will feel sleepy around 10 PM and 2 AM. The most difficult thing is to stay awake around 2 AM 4 AM because the body is programmed to sleep. What makes it more stressful is that your boss expects you to handle the customers well. The job is simple but what makes it hard is that you are fighting your own body fatigue. Do not be surprised if your supervisor or superior will motivate you by saying We only hire people who are willing to work and can stay awake in the middle night or Reduce your daily activities and do not eat in the middle of the night. We need to remember that these people are not Chrono-biologists, These people are hired by the company to accomplish a certain goal to optimize profit and prevent internal or external issues for the company. Employees need to take care of themselves because the company has paid them already.


To overcome these difficulties, you have to sleep at least two hours before your night shift, because if you do not, your body will be deprived of sleep and you cannot perform your job well. During the night shift, do not bend forward when you sit at your working desk or do not sit upright forming your spine and your chair at a 900 angle, because sitting like this makes you tired easily. By sitting at 1350 puts less strain on your back than hunching forward or even sitting straight. To avoid yourself entering slumber land, you can drink a cup of coffee, green tea, or white tea (not black tea).


After your night shift, which ends at normally 7 AM, you have to have your breakfast at least at approximately 7 AM, or directly after arriving home, have brunch around 10 AM to 11:30 AM. Following that, you need to sleep to catch up the lost time of sleep the night before. This could be at least 4 to 5 hours. The most important thing is that you do not sleep with an empty stomach. In other words, you have to fill your stomach before going to bed. An empty stomach becomes the cause of lack of energy leading to unexpected sicknesses. Taking vitamins such as B-complex is advisable.

In conclusion, be practical in finding information in the internet and do not waste your time visiting websites that sell you products. In order to get a complete guide how to work in shifts effectively, you can visit websites like or Do not forget to eat and drink water on time because if you delay your meal, you will be sick and eventually you cannot do anything because you have to spend your money for your own medication. Play Video Games that you like can be fun and relive your stress after a hard day in your workplace. Get some skills by joining free seminars, free webinars, or Free Online University Courses such as, they support you to work smarter not harder. Test yourself whether you are an early or late person to wake up in the next page.



Quiz : Are you a Lark or an Owl?

How to Determine Whether You are a Lark or an Owl. Take the following survey to help you determine if you are a lark, an owl, or somewhere in-between. Take a piece of paper and write down the point value (indicated in brackets) of each response you have to the following 13 questions. Then add up the points and compare the total to the chart located at the end of the survey.


1)    Considering only your own feeling best rhythm, at what time would you get up if you were entirely free to plan your day?

        5:00-6:30 a.m. (5 points)

        6:30-7:45 a.m. (4 points)

        7:45-9:45 a.m. (3 points)

        9:45-11:00 a.m. (2 points)

        11:00 a.m.-12:00 (noon) (1 point)


2)    Considering only your own feeling best rhythm, at what time would you go to bed if you were entirely free to plan your evening?

        8:00-9:00 p.m. (5 points)

        9:00-10:15 p.m. (4 points)

        10:15 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (3 points)

        12:30-1:45 a.m. (2 points)

        1:45-3:00 a.m. (1 point)


3)    Assuming normal circumstance, how easy do you find getting up in the morning?

        Not at all easy (1 point)

        Slightly easy (2 points)

        Fairly easy (3 points)

        Very easy (4 points)


4)    How alert do you feel during the first half hour after having awakened in the morning?

        Not at all alert (1 point)

        Slightly alert (2 points)

        Fairly alert (3 points)

        Very alert (4 points)


5)    During the first half hour after having awakened in the morning, how tired do you feel?

        Very tired (1 point)

        Fairly tired (2 points)

        Fairly refreshed (3 points)

        Very refreshed (4 points)


6)    You have decided to engage in some physical exercise. A friend suggests that you work out twice a week for an hour and the best time for him is 7:00-8:00 a.m. Bearing in mind nothing else but your own feeling best rhythm, how do you think you would perform?

        Would be in good form (4 points)

        Would be in reasonable form (3 points)

        Would find it difficult (2 points)

        Would find it very difficult (1 point)


7)    At what time in the evening do you feel tired and, as a result, in need of sleep?

        8:00-9:00 p.m. (5 points)

        9:00-10:15 p.m. (4 points)

        10:15 p.m.-12:30 a.m. (3 points)

        12:30-1:45 a.m. (2 points)

        1:45-3:00 a.m. (1 point)



8)    You wish to be at your peak performance for a test that you know is going to be mentally exhausting and lasting for two hours. You are entirely free to plan your day, and considering only your own feeling best rhythm, which one of the four testing times would you choose?

        8:00-10:00 a.m. (4 points)

        11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. (3 points)

        3:00-5:00 p.m. (2 points)

        7:00-9:00 p.m. (1 point)


9)    One hears about morning and evening types of people. Which one of these types do you consider yourself to be?

        Definitely a morning type (4 points)

        More a morning than an evening type (3 points)

        More an evening than a morning type (2 points)

        Definitely an evening type (1 point)


10) When would you prefer to rise (provided you have a full days work--8 hours to do) if you were totally free to arrange your time?

        Before 6:30 a.m. (4 points)

        6:30-7:30 a.m. (3 points)

        7:30-8:30 a.m. (2 points)

        8:30 a.m. or later (1 point)


11) If you always had to rise at 6:00 a.m., what do you think it would be like?

        Very difficult and unpleasant (1 point)

        Rather difficult and unpleasant (2 points)

        A little unpleasant but no great problem (3 points)

        Easy and not unpleasant (4 points)


12) How long a time does it usually take before you recover your senses in the morning after rising from a nights sleep?

        0-10 minutes (4 points)

        11-20 minutes (3 points)

        21-40 minutes (2 points)

        More than 40 minutes (1 point)


13) Please indicate to what extent you are a morning or evening active individual:

        Pronounced morning active (morning alert and evening tired) (4 points)

        To some extent, morning active (3 points)

        To some extent, evening active (2 points)

        Pronounced evening active (morning tired and evening alert) (1 point).


Total your score (Add all of the points from each of your 13 responses.) What is your total score?

  22 or less : Very much a night person

  23-29 : Somewhat a night person

  30-36 : No particular tendency

  37-43 : Somewhat a morning person

  44 or more : Very much a morning person


Source: Smith, Reilly, and Midkiff, 1989




Article is a contribution from Johannes Bambang Wirawan, alumnae from English Literature Major. Email address: .





Uploaded By : Sudiana
Last Update : 07/07/2011

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