No I am not drunk.

Before you think I have lost it altogether and stop reading this blog any further, this is about working in night shifts and how it affected me and a few people I know.

I chanced upon an article about ‘circadian rhythm’ and I was like, yeah..I know this, I have had issues with this.

Circadian rhythms are physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness in an organism’s environment. They are found in most living things, including animals, plants and many tiny microbes. To read more click on this link.

So there is this biological clock, the super-master clock which regulates our circadian rhythm, which basically helps us stay awake during the day and sleep during the night. Sleep is not the only thing that happens at night, there is also the release of certain hormones and cell regeneration that goes on as our body rests and recoupes.

You need to understand this to go further. I have had a lot of people asking me if there was any difference between working in night shifts and jet lag. Shouldn’t you be able to get over the ill effects of working in night shifts as easily??

The answer is a resounding NO!! It’s not the same.

As I was driving down yesterday night after work, I saw the BPO employees gathering around the roadside stall for their daily nightly fix of chai, omelette and a fag.

It triggered off a lot of memories, nice and not-so-nice ones as well..

I have worked in night shift for almost two years. The first thing you notice is no amount of sleep is enough. Even if you have slept the better part of the day off, you don’t wake up rejuvenated. Your sleep is disturbed.

The second sign that there was something wrong with me was the abnormal weight gain. I gained around 8-10 kilos which I have been able to lose only very recently.

The other sure shot issue for women especially is erratic monthly cycles (which again are controlled by the biological clock), hormonal issues and a plethora of other problems.

I had zero interaction with my friends and family and my only human contact were my colleagues in the office. This is abnormal. even my weekends were weird as I was sleeping through out the day.

I have a friend whose migraines were unbearable as she worked in the nights. They were almost physically crippling.

On the plus side (very few)-

I miss the early morning road side chai and banter with friends. The visits to Pin XX- the 24/7 café.

The night shows galore that we used to watch in PVR.

The beautiful sunrises that were a part of my routine. (I distinctly remember one where me and my friend were on the old airport road at around 5 A.M and a part of the sky had the twilight and the other side was  bright with the light of dawn..very beautiful sight). I also used to love watching the aeroplanes take off and land, standing on the office terrace. But that’s it..I certainly don’t miss night shifts for anything else!!

By now you should know that I am not someone who would recommend night shifts for anyone, but having said that, I know it’s a necessity /choice of way of life for many people. I respect that.

I don’t buy into crap that all BPO employees/people who work in staggered shifts are slaves of the western world (that this is an extension of the colonisation-albeit modern). There is a demand and we have the capacity to supply.PERIOD.

I have also seen a lot of my friends who worked in the night shift and it seemed to suit them thoroughly. No issues at all. On weekends they would party through the night and sleep in the day.

These are the people who have been awake during the night times for such long periods that their biological clock seems to have accepted defeat!!

"I've been upside-down for so long..it seems right-side up to me"!! 😛

I am not too sure about the long-term effects or for how long such a lifestyle is sustainable.

But here are some things that seemed to make night shifts tolerable for me-

1)Darken your room-use heavy blinds.

2)Wear a dark patch over your eyes while sleeping.

3) Also you get these ear plugs that are used during CT scans..use them to cut out daytime noise. (Also helps tune out snores..if that helps any :P)

4)Eat a good nutritious dinner before you start for work.

5)Dont get into the habit of over-consuming coffee and tea.

6)The mid-night snacks that you eat..make sure they are healthy. (Please don’t go in for the sugar high that jalebis or the motivation that samosas give-these are the general mid night snacks that are served :P)

7)Have a light breakfast before heading to dreamland.

8)excercise.

And most importantly,

9)Spend some time every morning catching up with your near and dear ones before you hit the bed.

What do you do /did you do to make life better while working in night shifts?? Drop in your comments.

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