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

Sometimes you have to make sacrifices to get ahead in your career. You might have to move to a different city, take night classes, or suck up to a boss you cannot stand. But could you work the night shift to move up the career ladder?

Carol Lin, a CNN news anchor on the Early Edition, did just that.

Here is what Carol told Livelyhood about the difficulties and sacrificies she has made for her career:

Why did you move to the night shift?

Carol: It used to be working overnights was like the throwaway shift. But now working overnights in broadcast news is really one of the hot new areas. All the networks across the board are developing morning programming. What do you do if you're getting promoted? You've got to work these hours. Which is so ironic.

What did you think the night shift was going to be like?

Carol: They asked me when I interviewed for this job, "How are you going to feel about the hours?" I actually thought, "No problem."

And when I told people that here, they had that kind of glazed, you know, polite look on their face, "Uh huh, oh, great. All right." They knew.

What is it like waking up at 2:30 a.m.?

Carol: Everything has to be ritual in the morning, or else I'll forget something. I guess they say on this shift, "Memory is the first to go." I always thought it was your skin.

I basically get up in what is most people's middle of the night, but I've got to feel like the sun is up. I've got to feel like I care a little bit about how I look when I go in so that I have a chance to feel like this is my normal day.

How has working the night shift affected you?

Carol: This schedule affects everything. I mean, not only when you sleep and what you eat, but even how you live.

When I'm in a car in the afternoons, and if I haven't had a chance to grab some sleep during the day, I've got to be extra aware. It sounds a little paranoid, but you have to start compensating for the skills that you lose, because you're not getting enough sleep or the kind of sleep you need.

And your health?

Carol: One of the things that Nisa [my makeup artist] and I talk about, is how our skin has changed since working on this shift. And I actually started breaking out. I went to a dermatologist, and oddly, the first question she asked me was, "What's your sleep schedule?"

And then I learned that on this shift, and in particular if you get less than six hours of sleep at night, your hormone levels radically change. There was a study conducted out of Chicago, which indicated that within a few nights of getting less than six hours of sleep, these young men actually had the hormone levels of 60-year-olds.

How has your night schedule affected other people in your life?

Carol: People will never understand--even your own husband, even your own family--why you work these hours, and what it's like to work these hours. And you have to be patient about that.

Here is what Will Robinson, Carol's husband and a CNN producer, told Livelyhood about what life is like with Carol working the night shift:

Will: I come in about 9 a.m., and Carol is going home to go to bed. It's like ships meeting in the night...these different schedules, which are a little crazy.

But she's a trouper. Getting up at 2:30 in the morning is tough. Sometimes I hear her get up, and I think, "Oh, I'm glad I'm not getting up."

So, Carol, how do you make it through?

Carol: It's always about the work, and it's about the attitude you bring to your work, and it's about mental stamina. Do what it takes, and you get through it.

People who work overnights have to have a mental ability to create their own reality, and you have to make it positive.

People think that it's a glamorous business. People think that you do this for the attention. You've got to do it, because you love it, and because you believe in what you're doing. But now I'm realizing it's a question of how much longer I can do it on this shift.

And what are the positives of working the night shift?

Carol: The people who work on overnights here are so cohesive. We have the kind of teamwork and affection for one another that maybe the other shows don't have, because we have this additional hardship.

The most fun is knowing that the world is alive and awake, and you're ready and raring to cover it. There's a lot of things happening and a lot of stuff happened overnight. And you're going to be the one to deliver the information, and that's exciting.

Would you work the night shift to further your career?
Share your opinions and advice and ask questions of others.

Air dates & times

Video Tapes

Home - Who Works the Night Shift? - Surviving the Night - Sleep - Talk About It