Thursday, August 16, 2007

Nocturnal Animal

I have always been a daylight person, sleeping between 8 to 9 PM, thus missing out on nighttime happenings and primetime TV, and waking up around 3 to 4 AM to go to the gym for a good start. But like most new employees I was delegated to the night shift. Most people shun this shift for good reason; Primarily because it disrupts your sleep-wake cycle, and then of course everything else along the way like eating habits, social connection, household chores schedule, and constant tasks like grocery-shopping and banking.

Most night shifters go back to their day pattern for a variety of reasons: a spouse or partner who has conventional waking hours, kids, again social connection, daytime-only activities, etc. It really takes a toll on one's overall health that's why those who work the shift receive differetial pay which, for me, just about evens out your income because you pay higher taxes anyway, unless you have a tax-shielded investment like a house, for example. It may also depend on company's policy on salary and differential pay.

But despite drawbacks, some people become well-adjusted and actually prefer to work nights. For one, the work atmosphere, although also busy albeit in a different light than day shift, is less chaotic, providing one a better grasp of the situation. For another, it does take care of the bills to a certain extent, specially if one has tax-shelter investments to pay off. The stress during day shift is simply not worth it. Most important, camaraderie and teamwork is more felt at night because there is more time to help each other out.

The idea of working nights has never appealed to me. I've been accustomed to morning pattern and a 180 degree turn in my waking and working hours is tantamount to a seismic shift in my physiological framework and functioning. At the end of the day I can imagine my body flopping flat from a different kind of exhaustion and hormonal stress readily manifesting as breakouts.

According to research, working nights diminishes one's lifespan by half a day each time the sleep-wake cycle is disrupted. But the situation is beyond my control so I exercised a shift in perspective and rolled out to turn myself into a bona fide nocturnal animal so as to have one sole definitive sleep-wake cycle. But at the back of my mind I wonder: Am I really doing my body more good or more harm with this strategy? Now that's a good subject for further research.

Going back to day pattern was out of the equation, even on my days off. My day has to start mid afternoon with breakfast between 4 to 5 PM, lunch between 12MN to 1AM and supper between 7 to 8 AM. Business and social transactions have to be accomplished from late afternoon to early evening. My friends wonder what in the world I do in the dead of night. Well, the past three months was dedicated to fixing up the apartment. It's not easy to do a one-man show, you know. Of late, it has been mostly reading and writing or talking on the phone with fellow night owls. Also, with home theater system installed, I get lost in sitcom reruns and old movies from my sister's treasure trove of VHS tapes (Hak! Hak! Hak!).

Nights out on the town have to take a backseat for now until I have my own car, so does getting lost in the world wide web until I have my own computer. Being a night owl is working fine for me, so far. The key is consistency.

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