06 Sep 2012, New York State, USA --- Black businessman sleeping at desk --- Image by © Peter Dressel/Blend Images/Corbis

Night Security/Watch Men

News of security men falling asleep on the job shows the difficulty of shift work. Even when lives are at stake, it’s a challenge for some people to stay alert throughout the night. That’s because their internal body clock — sometimes called circadian rhythms — may be out of sync with their schedule. Shift work disrupts this cycle, and many people have trouble adapting.


Network Administrator

The Internet has also created a new demand for shift workers. Network administrators make sure that Web-based services are available to users 24/7 — so you can buy books, download music, or browse the net any time you like. The downside to all this shift work is that the workforce is more sleep deprived than in decades past. And that has risks.


Factory Worker

The manufacturing industry relies on shift work to avoid factory downtime and to maximize productivity. But there are costs. Compared to non shift workers, shift workers are significantly more likely to get fewer than six hours of sleep on work days. Drowsy or tired workers can increase the risk of workplace injuries. Poor sleep has also been linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, and depression.


Senior Manager

If you have (or are) a cranky boss, too little sleep could be part of the problem. Senior managers deal with the stress of overseeing a team, and they often put in long hours. Studies show the more hours you work, the less you sleep. And one survey found a direct link between poor sleep and job dissatisfaction.


News Reporter

The advent of 24-hour news created a whole new field of shift workers. Reporters, producers, and camera operators provide live news reports throughout the night. As more industries expand to 24-hour operations, the need for shift workers is growing.



Shift work is a time-honored tradition for hospital nurses. To provide continuous care to patients, many nurses also end up working long hours. Research suggests people tend to be less alert and focused during the last four hours of a 12-hour shift. This raises special concerns for jobs related to public health and safety.