Who Works the Night Shift?
Surviving the Night
Talk About It

Many night shifters would move to days if they had the option. But Amy Petrarca, a night emergency room nurse, says she's passed up many opportunities to work the day shift.

Amy, 29, usually punches in at San Francisco's General Hospital around 11:00 p.m. and punches out around 7:30 a.m.

Here's what Amy told Livelyhood about her love for nights:

Researchers say we have circadian rhythms that tell us to be sleepy at night. How do you explain your ease with working nights?

Amy: Well, I've always said those people doing the sleep studies, they should test me. I bet you I would still be waking up after 2:00 p.m. and stay awake until the sun rose. I am awake at nights even on my days off. Sometimes I cyclically come back.

I just love my nightlife--being up to see the sun rise and sleeping during the day.

You get paid 20 percent more than your day time counterpart to work nights - did that contribute to you working nights?

Amy: I would absolutely have worked nights without the differential. I've always wanted to work nights, and when I found out they were going to give me more for what I like doing best, I was thrilled.

When I was in college in Alabama, I worked at a truck stop diner off of Exit 51 on Highway and I loved it. That is where I first learned people would pay me to stay awake all night--that is great.

What do other people think about your love for nights?

Amy: I would say some people just don't think it is right to work the night shift. They just think it is wrong. Your body wants to get up in the morning when the sun gets up. You should be eating three meals a day at normal times.

My grandma doesn't like that I work the night shift. I don't think that she knows I do it by choice.

Do you ever convert to nine to five time on vacations or days off? And how do you switch back?

Amy: If I have three or four days off in a row, I will convert myself to something I call "real people time." And what that means is when I get off work in the morning, I am going to go home and sleep, but I am going to set my alarm to get up at two o'clock in the afternoon so I can be awake for part of the day.

And that way I can be tired by maybe 1:00 a.m. and go to sleep. By my next day off, I can be up when the sun is out and enjoy two or three days off on real people time.

But when you go to the first night back of work, it incorporates your last day of real people time. You might get up at 10:00 a.m. and then go to work that night, staying up until 7:30 a.m. the next day. So at least once a week I am up for twenty hours.

Why or why not would you want to work at night?
Share your opinions and advice and ask questions of others.

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