Working The Night Shift: Battling The Darkness – OpEd


After completing my school and university education, I began my career as a production engineer in a public company specializing in machine production for sugar factories and their steam boilers. My military service had not yet begun, and I had the opportunity to work alongside talented young engineers. It was decided that we should join the night shift with a decision from our factory manager. This decision marked the beginning of our night work adventure, and our working hours were from 21:00 to 07:00.

From my office inside the factory, the distant sounds of the factory’s activities would fill the room. While carrying out my daily tasks, I would sign material requisition lists and approve worker leave and doctor visit requests. Computers were not widespread in the technology age of the 1970s, so every detail was manually recorded. Nights in Ankara were famous for their freezing cold, so we had to wear thick cotton or wool underwear, heavy sweaters, leather vests, and sturdy safety boots. I would put on my helmet and roam the factory’s metal-filled production areas in the late hours of the night.

Returning home in the early morning was challenging. I was tired, and even taking a shower seemed like a difficult task. Daytime napping became almost impossible because I was struggling to adapt to the rigorous schedule of the night shift.

Tired eyes, constant headaches, and extensive physical fatigue hindered my desire to read newspapers or books. My eating habits changed, and the boundaries between day and night blurred.

As a result, my health deteriorated, and I started falling ill more frequently.

As night shift workers, we developed a unique sense of camaraderie and deepened our sense of empathy with the colleagues we worked with. The challenges of this work schedule are at a level that only someone who walks in the shoes of a night shift worker can truly understand.

Night shift workers grapple with problems due to disrupted sleep patterns, such as insomnia, fatigue, digestive issues, reduced cognitive performance, irritability, and decreased productivity. Therefore, night shift workers struggle to maintain their natural rhythms and may encounter issues like poor planning and unhealthy sleep habits.

However, there are some advantages to working at night. Having fewer visitors and phone calls can make the work environment quieter. This doesn’t mean the night shift is slow, but it can increase productivity by providing more opportunities to focus.

Haluk Direskeneli

Haluk Direskeneli, is a graduate of METU Mechanical Engineering department (1973). He worked in public, private enterprises, USA Turkish JV companies (B&W, CSWI, AEP, Entergy), in fabrication, basic and detail design, marketing, sales and project management of thermal power plants. He is currently working as freelance consultant/ energy analyst with thermal power plants basic/ detail design software expertise for private engineering companies, investors, universities and research institutions. He is a member of Chamber of Turkish Mechanical Engineers Energy Working Group.

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