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“It’s like a sport, if you condition yourself, you’ll get there”

These women work at night in different sectors of activity. Their motives are different. For some, it is a lifestyle choice, a compromise to balance family and professional life. For others, it is an imposed rhythm of life, in the absence of a better one.

This documentary, They work at night, by Guillaume Terver, gives voice to these women who work in professions that require continuity of activity. In the hospital, in the control tower, in the factory or alone, they are “the night”.

When the sun gives way to the moon, they work under neon lights. Night atmosphere, which welcomes more silence and which seems to increase the space.

“What is difficult is this rhythm where we are constantly, once, in a normal rhythm and suddenly, in the rhythm of the night.”

There is often a financial side that prevails. Working at night should be better paid. And then, it is possible to save on the costs of childcare, canteen, etc.

Real shopping! I’m not really sure, because there’s always a price to pay. And this price, if not paid in cash, changes in the hours of sleep. Accompanying the oldest to sports or music lessons, arranging a doctor’s appointment for the youngest… Keeping a family calendar that includes vacation time. Those financial advantages, which some claim, are questioned by others.

video duration: 00h00mn24s

No, night work is not paid more.

©French Television

Choose night work to gain freedom and autonomy. “In terms of work, it’s a lot less stressful at night because we don’t have big heads watching us. During the day, when we’re morning guys, it’s good until a certain time. After everyone shows up, we ask for a little more.”

Get behind the day job wave. Some kind of side step, another space-time, somewhere else right here. A good reason to find what you’re looking for. The nurse testifies to the closeness and privileged relationships she can enjoy during her night hours.

Because working at night still gives me the opportunity to be with the patient, and not to be a draft that passes quickly in the treatment room. I still have the opportunity to sit on the edge of patients’ beds and talk to them.

And there are those who had no other choice, because you have to make an effort! “I tried to find an apprenticeship, I couldn’t find it. I went to a factory”.

Working at night means living against the grain. How to make friends when you’re conspicuous by your absence at evening parties before you completely disappear from the guest list. “We can’t create a relationship when we’re not there.” Social life decreases and family life becomes complicated. A twisted life where spouses meet and no longer share their daily lives.

The absence of the other can create tension. A void that must be overcome, so that everyone does not remain stuck in their own bubble.

Health, which has no price, is tested by night work. Lack of sleep has serious consequences. How can you recover when you don’t get enough sleep, and the few allotted hours do not allow you to overcome fatigue?

The darkness is not complete and outside noises penetrate the houses. Children, even if they are good, forbid mothers sound sleep, always on the alert. This need to be operational for everyone and everything forces a woman with many hats to neglect her own needs.

Night work is not for everyone. Some people will never adopt this unnatural cycle, because it is physically incompatible with their reserves of physical resources.

Working at night is mental, it’s like a sport. If you condition yourself, you will get there. There are people who get there later and people who dig in around 4 am.

For those who persevere, the consequences are dealt with daily, but they often have profound effects. The statistics are terrifying. Night work promotes breast cancer. A reality that they sometimes discover too late. “We were not warned about the risks.”

The nutritional balance is disturbed. Eat sweet, eat salty? Meals no longer conform to the usual schedule. “There are times when I come home and eat pizza. It’s not necessarily dinner, I take what’s available, but it’s more salty than sweet because I’m going to sleep. I can’t have breakfast and go to sleep.” Snacks and cups of coffee help you last through the night. Bad habits and an upside-down hourglass of time that shake the body and cause nausea.

“Night work, you feel it, you get a slap, your body gets a slap.” For those who travel by car, in the absence of public transport at the end of the night, risks are also present on the way back. Fatigue and lack of vigilance are very dangerous companions. He fights not to fall asleep at the wheel. To arrive or not! Of course, it is possible to stop and take a nap. But what to do when the children are waiting for mom to come back to get them ready for school.

As the little boy said so well: “Mom, you’re wearing your Superwoman cape upside down.” seeing her wearing her apron to do household chores. They say that the truth comes from children’s mouths! “I didn’t wake up one morning and say to myself: when I become an employee, I will choose the night. No way. It’s not a choice. I chose to work at night because my children were small. It was complicated to take them to school. When I was on the day shift , I didn’t know what my kids were doing in terms of homework. My husband didn’t care about it. So, out of necessity, I said, ‘I have to change my work rhythm.'” To be perfect in everything, is it possible, is it even reasonable? ! Some days Superwoman traded in her apron for pajamas to regain her strength.

video duration: 00h01mn06s

Testimony of two women who work night shifts during the day.

©French Television

She would also like, if possible, to think about herself a little, without feeling guilty. Use this rest time, it should be free for a walk in the daylight. Get out of the hellish spiral of imposed race. At night, most people sleep and no one complains about that. A woman who sleeps part of the day and has worked all night is often bored and misunderstood.

So that the responsibilities to be carried out within the house are balanced between men and women, there is still work to be done, day and night. However, it is not impossible to think that they will also turn their capes upside down for the better and for the future.

► “Elles travail la nuit”, a documentary by Guillaume Terver, produced by Un fil à la patte and France Télévisions, which can be seen this Thursday, September 28 at 11:00 p.m., and will be replayed on

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