It’s 3:30 a.m. when Chris Loomis’ alarm wakes him up for the day. He habitually hits the “off” button, jumps out of bed and maneuvers his way to the closet in the dark. Without waking his roommate, he puts on his paint-stained jeans and gray sweatshirt.
Next, he grabs an apple from the fridge and flips the television on to his favorite early-morning show, “A Haunting,” to help wake him up. After a couple of minutes, he puts on his shoes and is out the door by 3:50 a.m. to make it to work on time.
Loomis, a teaching physical science major from Blackfoot, Idaho, used to work from 4 to 7:30 a.m., five days a week. His specific duty was to clean the fourth and fifth floors of the Kimball Tower.
Despite the rough hours, Loomis was one of many students who work late-night or early-morning shifts.
The thought of working during these times is enough to make even the most nocturnal of students cringe, but the job does have its benefits.
“I worked 4 to 7:30 a.m., and nothing ever conflicts with that,” Loomis said. “You never have to worry about (work) getting in the way of classes or getting in the way of meetings or any other type of calling that you might have.”
Russell Youngberg, a junior from Ketchikan, Alaska, has cleaned the Wilkinson Student Center Sunday through Thursday nights from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. since January.
“Most of the time it’s not that bad,” Youngberg said. “Everybody just clears out of the building, and you just do your own thing and that’s nice.”
Youngberg explained that there are three crews he can be assigned to each night: carpets, floors or sets, which prepares for events like the Career Fair.
The students also explained the drawbacks of working late at night or early in the morning.
Regardless of going to bed at eight or nine each night and being a self-proclaimed “morning person,” Loomis still had a difficult time.
“Everybody told me I looked like a zombie,” Loomis said.
Trent Larson, from Kansas City, Mo., studying history, worked the same early-morning custodial shift as Loomis and felt sleep withdrawals even while working.
“I was extremely tired one day, and I was like, ‘I need a nap, or I’m not going to be able to finish my work,’ and it was just horrible,” Larson said. “So I set my alarm for 10 minutes and then I (laid) on the floor, and it went off and I went back to work.”
Sleep is not the only thing being compromised. Keeping up with schoolwork also proves to be a struggle.
“During the day as I was taking classes I would fall asleep during every single one,” Loomis said. “There was not a class I did not stay awake for the entire time, and I’m not normally the type of person that would fall asleep during classes.”
Working around an irregular schedule also means sacrifices to the students’ social lives.
“My roommates would do a lot of random things together at night that (brought) them close, and I was never able to participate because I was always in bed,” Larson said.
Managing school, sleep and a social life is difficult for students who work the graveyard shift, but it is a sacrifice some are willing to make.