On the job

Night work: advantages and disadvantages

Working at night is not always an easy pace of life. What are the disadvantages and advantages of working when the sun is down?

As some get ready for bed and others go out to bars, Katerine goes to work. At 9:00 p.m., the 34-year-old nurse goes on duty and won’t leave her health care facility until sunrise. For the past 10 years, she has gone to bed when everyone else gets up, wakes up in the middle of the afternoon and often misses her friends’ birthdays… Yet, between advantages and disadvantages, her heart sometimes swings.

Better paid, less stress

“The night shift is better paid,” Katerine says at the outset. This is a significant advantage for her, especially at the beginning of her career. In addition, she finds that night shifts are quieter. “You can do what you have to do more quietly, with less stress,” she says.

The 9 to 12 hour shifts give her another advantage: she has more days off during the week. “I can do whatever I want on those days, like seeing my friends. And since I don’t have children, I don’t mind working on weekends,” she says. In fact, she says she sleeps better since she works nights. “I finally have more time for sports, I’m more self-aware and I sleep better,” she says.

Adverse effects

While it appreciates this pace, it notes a number of constraints directly related to night work. “In terms of my profession, I do less technical things at night, so I’m always afraid of losing my touch,” she says. In her department, in oncology, very little care is given at night, which sometimes makes her work less interesting.

His social life is also much less full. “I’m always the opposite of my friends and family, so obviously it’s hard to see each other,” she says. She misses many events, goes out less than when she was in the daytime and doesn’t meet many new people. At the same time, she considers herself lucky that her husband, also a nurse, works nights. “Otherwise, it would be impossible,” she believes.

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He is also very concerned about adverse health effects. “Even though I don’t feel them yet, I know that in the long run it can be problematic,” says Katerine. Indeed, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an agency of the World Health Organization (WHO), has classified night work as “probably carcinogenic. While Katerine has a healthy lifestyle, she admits that she won’t be able to physically work at night for the rest of her career.

Would she want to change her pace though? “Yes, still, I would like to be able to settle down a little bit in normal life, have children, and I find it difficult to do that full time at night,” she says. But she says she’s willing to continue working a few nights a month.

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