You don’t have to be a vampire to never see the sun. To the thousands of Singaporeans who work the night shift, mornings mean it’s time to knock off, go home and hide under the covers.
Other than the usual suspects—security guards, bar staff, 7-11 employees, 24-hour prata shop workers—there are many office workers who work the late shift to cater to markets in another timezone.
For instance, bank executives, traders and customer service officers often work London or New York hours. This means they knock off anywhere from 1am to 6am.
Working night shift often means getting paid more, as well as benefitting from a transport allowance. While taking a cab home after work on the company’s dime sounds a lot better than squeezing onto the MRT in the evening, many night shift PMETs give it up after a few years simply because it’s stressful being in a completely different timezone from everyone else.
How to cope? Here are some tips.
Actively seek out others who can hang out at odd hours
When you work the night-shift, even a simple meet-up for dinner with friends is impossible. When your work day ends, all your friends and family are already in bed. Obviously, this can be incredibly isolating.
The only way to make working the night shift sustainable is to find others with a similar schedule, who can afford to hang out late at night. These people aren’t going to fall from the sky—you’re going to have to actively seek them out and make the effort to build ties with them.
Benjamin, a 34-year-old private tutor, usually ends work at 10 or 11pm. Thankfully, he has found a few friends, many self-employed like himself or working in the real estate or insurance lines, who are free to meet him after midnight for a drink or a LAN game.
Make time to see your family and friends who work regular hours
The most alienating thing about working night shift is that you quickly feel yourself losing touch with friends and family members who start work in the morning. You can no longer be part of your friends’ ad hoc gatherings after work, nor can you join your family for nightly dinners.
Take an active role in maintaining these relationships and carve out time to see these people, otherwise you’ll find your old life slipping away all too fast.
You can still meet up on weekends, and on the bright side whenever they take leave you may have the chance to see them in the morning before you begin work. Be active about making appointments to do stuff with these people so these relationships don’t fade away.
Find activities you can enjoy at odd hours
Ariana, a 32-year-old former customer service officer who used to work London hours, says her lifestyle has become a lot healthier since she left her job.
“I finished work at 1am every day, so the only thing I could do after work was go to a club. Most of my colleagues were in their twenties and thirties, so we would hit the clubs at least twice week after work,” she says.
Obviously, you won’t be able to just walk into a shopping mall after work or sit down to a normal food court meal. To stave off the sense of deprivation you will undoubtedly feel, it pays to research things you can do and places you can go before or after work
Figure out which supermarkets open round the clock—there are quite a few NTUC Fairprice and Giant outlets which open 24 hours. For other necessities, there’s Mustafa. You also want to know where you can have supper, such as the hotpot places at River Valley, frog porridge at Chinatown or prawn noodles at Geylang.
If you’re not really a night person, one option is to wake up in the morning and enjoy your personal time before rather than after work.
Get black-out curtains
Getting too much sunlight when you go to bed can totally wreck the quality of your sleep. If your find yourself constantly waking up, consider investing in black-out curtains for your bedroom.
They can be a little pricey upfront, but this is one of the best purchases you’ll ever make in Singapore. Not only do blackout curtains make your room nice and dark no matter how bright it is outside, they also make it less hot, which, for anyone who doesn’t sleep with the air con on, is a divine blessing from the gods.
Have you ever worked the night shift? Share your experiences in the comments!