Embracing the Graveyard Shift

a.k.a “Finally, I have adjusted!”

Any shift passing between midnight to more or less eight in the morning is a “graveyard” shift. It’s called as such for it does not follow the conventional 9-5 work schedule. Term was coined around the 19th century when “safety coffins” were invented “to protect you from being buried alive”. To date, the connotation for this shift is actually “burying people while they are still alive”.

In the Philippines, employees working in this shift are usually in the BPO industry, the medical field and those which needs response any time of the day (firemen, rescue team, security). In considering employment, schedule is a priority and most job seekers fret upon this shift.  It’s also called graveyard shift as it posts a glaring risk on health.  Luckily, such risk is preventable and if it already exists, it can be mitigated.

Allow me to share 10 things why I already embrace the graveyard shift and even as a (self-proclaimed) morning person, this schedule works for me!

  1. Breakfast meals all the time!

I love breakfast (apart from desserts)! Just by thinking about eggs, pancakes, sinangagpandesal, grilled cheese, and taho, my heart already jumps for joy! Even if the day hasn’t started yet, by the mere presence of breakfast, my day is complete.

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I wake up around 7PM to prepare for my 10PM-7AM work. So here’s my breakfast meal times:

  • 1stbreakfast, 7PM (eggs are necessary! but I only eat egg whites)
  • 2ndbreakfast (snack), 12AM (fruits, nuts and tea/brewed coffee/milk)
  • 3rdbreakfast (lunch), 2AM (I have baon(see baon samples below)! Quinoa or 1/4 cup rice, veggies, proteins: chicken/fish (I abstain on beef/pork) or Peanut Butter on wheat bread with raisins)
  • 4thbreakfast (end of shift), 7AM (eggs are necessary!)

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When I go out of our office building, all restaurants offer breakfast. It’s one thing I always miss before as most stores have menu cut-offs. At work, we have meetings over breakfast- imagine all novel ideas freely flowing from my teammates (see#3). I also look forward to breakfast dates- refreshing and special, as those who invite you for it usually make an effort to wake up really early to see and eat the most important meal of the day with you. If I were to have my own resto, it will definitely be an all-time breakfast for athletes, hikers and for generally sporty/healthy people (or those who aspire to be).

Take breakfast lovers to: Somethin’ Fishy’s Unlimited Breakfast, a nice coffee place, Recovery Food, Pancake House, Bannaple, Salad Stop!, Kanto Freestyle breakfast, Jollibee, McDonald’s or let’s cook 🙂

  1. More sleeping time

ZZZ...

Honestly, this is where all my struggle is rooted from. As per my friends working in this shift, this was also their challenge during the first few weeks. After a month of sleep love-hate, praying and plotting best sleep schedules, finally, I knew how I will get a nice, sound hibernation.

Instead of eating lunch (as I can eat any time on my desk while working), I sleep. I get a reasonable number of power naps (about 3x for the whole 8hrs work shift). If I don’t nap, I run on the treadmill here at our office gym (See #6).

In total, I still get enough 6-8hrs a day.

  • Break time 1- 15mins
  • Lunch- 1 hr (sometimes I oversleep, hehe)
  • Break time 2- 15mins
  • Real sleep- 12nn (adjustable ‘til 2pm) to 7pm

 See: “3 TED Talks That Will Convince You to Get More Sleep” 

  1. People I’m working with are generally happier

Although I have just been in my new company for a month, I’ve observed that people here are less stressed, seem to be happier, more considerate, they procrastinate less and they take things slowly and surely. They appreciate co-workers more as they need them awake for them to stay awake too. People here are proactively keeping each other up of their sanity.

See: “Why Night Owls Are Better Than Early Birds” 

  1. I can still have quality training

I’d like to believe that I have a balanced work-life integration in general. Although I have been leaning towards the chill/adventure life from Oct-Dec 2015, it provided me luxury time to revamp my lifestyle. Most of my unemployed time were dedicated to hiking, meal prep planning, training, job hunting (and fine, a few household chores).

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My Team Guttom! Lucky to still have training time with them despite conflicts in our schedule.

I am preparing for my 1st marathon happening on February 2016 (See: TBR Dream Marathon 2016) and some other sport feats for this year. My day usually take more time dedicated for training and self-talking on why am I even doing this to myself.

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My (adjustable) schedule is:

  • Monday- Gym/Maintenance Run
  • Tuesday- Swim
  • Wednesday- Swim/Maintenance Run
  • Thursday- Swim
  • Friday- Gym/Maintenance Run
  • Weekends- Hike/Bike/LSDs*

*Long, Slow Distance Running (10 km above)

  1. Appreciate the purpose of vitamins and caffeine

I have never taken any vitamins faithfully until now. It’s essential for our bodies to have the right balance of vitamins and minerals to function properly, maintain high energy level throughout the day and normalize metabolism. I take Enervon Multivitamins on regular days while on hardcore days, I take Enervon Activ. I also tried taking USANA essentials before, but it’s expensive so I have to halt for a while.

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photo from Google

As for my caffeine intake, I am more of a tea person than coffee. To keep up with really early training days, however, I have no other option but to take at least 1 cup of the latter. Apart from coffee, I also receive caffeine from GU gels/gummies and energy shots on trainings and race days.

  1. Employers provide more to keep their employees energized

I am utterly amazed on how my new company takes care of its employees. Honestly, one of the reasons I accepted work here is for the benefits a typical company rarely offer.

Allow me to show you some of the highlights here in our office:

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Small gym

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(top) Library, (bottom) Female nap room and shower room

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(top) Billiards area, (bottom) Playstation area

 

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(top) comfy sofas & bean bags, (bottom) massage chairs

Apart from these facilities, they also offer fitness reimbursement for employees who have enrolled themselves in a fitness-related class (boxing, yoga, gym, etc.) or joined sports-related events (fun runs, multi sport competition, etc.). Unlimited coffee (both brewed and mixed coffee) is also available. What’s not to love here?

  1. More productivity!

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photo from Google

When I was in college, I’ve always wondered why my brain works sharper around 10pm to the wee hours of the night. I know I am a (self-proclaimed) morning person, but my thought process gets more novel at night. Since most of the people here at work really take things in a relaxed manner (no fuss, no stress, no one’s cramming), I seem to adapt such work ethic too and as a result, I finish more tasks at the end of the shift.

See: “10 surprising facts about how our brain works” (note on #1 and #4)

See: “If you want to get ahead, be a night owl”

 

  1. Not all in this shift have bad habits

I fret on graveyard shift employee stereotyping as heavy smokers and alcoholics. In fact, my officemates play badminton after shift (7am) or run on the treadmill, or play billiards during break time. So far, no one invites for post-shift drinks yet.

  1. No traffic! No evening/ morning rush!

One reason why I left my previous work is location. It was a grueling (approx.) 5hr-commute from Sampaloc, Manila to BGC and back home. I’ve always thought about the opportunity costs of a 5hr-commute, wondering how the time spent should’ve been added to my sleeping time (I was on 8AM-5PM shift before). That extra time now is dedicated to my trainings.

My commute is a breeze now! From home to Ortigas, 20-30mins. Then back to home, 30mins to an hour. I’m still looking for a safe bike route from home to work and back so I can finally “bike to work”. Whooo!

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photo from Google

Plus, other commuters are more relaxed and less irate. So far, I am never late. I arrive at work feeling fresh and worriless. I also have saved so much of my monthly transportation allowance. When I was working in BGC, I spend (approx.) Php200 a day going to and from work while I only spend (approx.) Php50 now. Yay to more savings*!

*Proceeds will go to upgrading my commuter bike.
  1. I became more purposefully strategic in my time management

A friend working in this shift for almost 2 years now advised that I should always choose sleep over spur-of-the-moment post-shift appointments such as seeing a friend, a meeting/seminar, or attending to some errand except if it’s already planned.

Whenever I agree on seeing a friend/ attending errands though, I make sure I set a strict timeline. Funny how my grandmother excitedly waits for me every morning and nags whenever I sneak out to go training immediately once I arrive home (around 8am or 9am).

Normal conversation of my cute Lola and I
 *Faye arrives home*
Grandma: “May pagkain na d’yan. Kung ayaw mo, matulog na agad!” 
(There’s food there. If you don’t like to eat, go sleep immediately!)
*Faye smiles, grabs her training bag and leaves again*
Grandma: “San ka na naman pupunta? ‘Di ka na naawa sa sarili mo. Iniisip ko tulog mo. Takbo ka ng takbo, swimming ng swimming…ang itim itim mo na…lfsjogdywbaofjr” 
(Where are you going again? Have pity on your body! I’m thinking about your sleep. You run and run, go swimming and swimming…you are so dark already…lfsjogdywbaofjr”)
*Grandma’s voice fading in the background as I’m already running away from our compound*

I may have passed up on certain opportunities already from taking calculated risks (and I know I will have to say more “no” moving forward), but I am glad to be faithful to my 2016 mantra- “Learn how to say no. Agree only to what’s important”.

saying-no

photo from Google

I’m also enjoying literally counting my sleeping hours and managing to still cook/food prep for my baon to avoid the horror fa(s)t food offers.

For those who have been offered a graveyard shift work schedule, fret not! Proper time management and keen lifestyle planning (or lifestyle change if you are still “all around”) are keys to surviving and eventually, embracing this glorious working time.

 

P.S. Please remind me to revisit this post once I lose motivation staying here.

Late to bed and late to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” 

 

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6 thoughts on “Embracing the Graveyard Shift

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