RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

This week, we've been hearing about fatigue among air traffic controllers who often work graveyard shifts. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has it that some 15 percent of Americans do shift work outside the standard nine-to-five. That's true of many of us here on MORNING EDITION, which makes us that much more curious about others on the night shift.

A callout on Facebook got us more than 2,000 responses, and we called a few of them back.

Mr. COLLIN LOWRY (Help Desk, KFC): My name's Collin Lowry. I live in Louisville, Kentucky. I found this really great internship doing computer troubleshooting work.

Dr. TINA NGUYEN (Physician, Military Officer): My name is Tina Nguyen, and I am a family medicine physician who is currently in the military. I am a captain.

Mr. PARIS HUANG (Broadcaster, Voice of America, China): My name Paris Huang. I am an international broadcaster of Voice of America's Chinese service. We have to match to the Asian's prime news time.

Mr. ALAN HINOSTROZA (Truck Driver): My name is Alan Hinostroza. I'm a truck driver for a road construction crew. Sometimes we work night shifts. Sometimes we work day shifts.

Mr. LOWRY: In the daytime, you know, you always have, like, a professional environment. But in late shift, you can be more yourself.

Dr. NGUYEN: We've got a pretty good crew at night. So we keep each other awake by playing games. One of our techs actually brings in his Xbox and we play "You Don't Know Jack."

Mr. LOWRY: It would seem that when you get home, it would be really easy to fall asleep. But it's not always the case, anyways, because it's morning, you know, the light's coming in. So when I get home, I probably don't even fall asleep till about three or four hours after my shift.

Mr. HUANG: I used to try to drink some alcohol, like red wine or something that could help me fall asleep. But I figure it's not really healthy that way. And I tried to take pills.

Mr. HINOSTROZA: I'm against that. Sleep comes naturally to me. I guess I don't understand people that need to take nighttime aids. Besides, if you see those commercials, they've got some side effects, like nighttime wackiness.

Mr. LOWRY: Being a 19-year-old kid in college, you know, people expect you to go to parties, things like that. Hey, Collin, you do want to go to a party on Saturday? Nope. Sorry. I have to work all night. Luckily, I found some friends who have the same schedule as I do, and we basically just hang out in the wee morning hours. And that's about all the interaction we get.

Mr. HINOSTROZA: I have difficulty staying asleep sometimes because, just as you're on the night schedule, your kids aren't on that same schedule. And when they say, hey, dad, come on in color with me, you can't really tell them no. That's the reason I do what I do, is for the love of my family.

(Soundbite of song, "I'm Only Sleeping")

THE BEATLES (Rock Band): (Singing) When I wake up early in the morning...

MONTAGNE: Late shift workers Alan Hinostroza, Collin Lowry, Paris Huang and Tina Nguyen. They were just a few of the 2,000 listeners who wrote us on Facebook. You can read more at the NPR Facebook page and read an essay by one of our own producers about his experiences overnight.

(Soundbite of song, "I'm Only Sleeping")

THE BEATLES: (Singing) Please don't wake me, no, don't shake me. Leave me...

MONTAGNE: This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.