Nights (The End)

Imagine I'm working Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights – I'll then have Friday, Saturday and Sunday off until I start day shifts on the following Monday. Excellent you may think, three days off. But, dear reader, this is not the case – for a start my Thursday night shift finishes on Friday morning, and moreover I need to shift my body-clock back over to 'daylight time' ready for my next run of shifts.
There are a couple of ways to do this, one way is to use chemical assistance, either stimulants to remain awake all Friday then sleep normally Friday night, or sedatives to sleep on Friday afternoon all the way through to Saturday morning. I've tried it, and chemicals are not good for me – Stimulant drinks drive me psychotic, and sedatives just don't work for some reason.

So the other option is to go 'natural'. I stay awake on Friday, with the exception of a one hours nap during the afternoon, then sleep normally on Friday night, waking up (hopefully) refreshed on a Saturday morning. Problem? Well it makes you feel as sick as a dog throughout the day. I also find myself rather 'emotional' during that time, I'll find myself crying over crap TV movies, pieces of music or even the odd book, earlier this week I told you about me crying over an RSPCA ad, that is exactly what I mean. I'm not normally fragile – but a lack of sleep does unhinge me a bit.

I try and do things during the day, sure I could sit on the computer killing evil aliens, or chasing villains online, but I'll try to do something more constructive. Normally I'll find myself paying credit card bills, standing in the queue for a cashier, having mild hallucinations, feeling sick and wondering who exactly drained the colour and joy from the world.

Then in a week or two, I get to do it all over again.

(I finish my lates on Sunday night/Monday morning, and from Wednesday I'm on seven day shifts, so further posts will be on more 'normal' subjects).

11 thoughts on “Nights (The End)”

  1. I have a nurse friend who uses melatonin capsules to help adjust to shift work. I take 'em myself to hammer a natural 4am-12 noon sleep cycle into something a little more “acceptable”, the trouble being that they seem to take a few days to kick in, which would fix you up just in time to come off night again…

  2. Before Ambulancing I was an A&E nurse, and worked a worse rota than I do at the moment, and for the last year of that I worked permanent nights (5 nights a week, take home nearly 600 a week, lovely).Before that I honestly can't remember – working for the NHS is like being a dog, 1 year feels like 7 years.

    I vaguely think I was always fairly 'sleep hungry', but beyond that, I have no idea.

  3. You can indeed work permanent nights, and I did so at A&E for a year. Basically your body adjusts completely, so you end up sleeping the same amount of time as 'normal' people instead of the increased time you can find yourself sleeping on rotating shifts. It isn't as stressful on your body because you aren't constantly resetting your body clock, but……You can easily end up socially secluded internet and timezones not-withstanding. You need to take multivitamins because the body only makes some vitamins in the presence of daylight, and it can be a right git to do simple things like visit banks, keep appointments and other day to day stuff.

    However, some people do work permanent nights and enjoy it, I'm considering it myself when my current ghosting is up…

  4. Yep, 4am is a bloody bad time of the morning, it's when our body cycle is at it's slowest, so resistances are down. Nothing like a 4am wake-up call when you've have a hours kip to put a shine on the rest of the day.I remember reading somewhere that 3-4am is a 'popular' time to “check out”, we get a lot of 'my husband/wife' is dead calls at between 7-9am, basically when they wake up next to their dead partner.

    Same thing in the hospitals, when they do their rounds in the morning and realise that 'Mr Smith' doesn't want any breakfast…

  5. A couple of friends in my younger days were on a daft shift pattern of alternating 12 hours 6 to 6 but with a fast turnover from days to night. Their job was also fairly dull but required some level of attention so they did no end up chewed by an extruder. They relied heavely on chemicals of the non prescribed variety (uppers to stay awake than downers once back home to go to sleep). Having witnessed the effects I can't say I'd recommend it.Shifts is the main reason why Him Indoors is not keen on an LAS career for me. What sort of a sleeper were you before you started working for the NHS (if you can remember that far) ?

  6. Would working only nightshifts be better for body and mind ?It would certainly push you away from society, and some of the nightshifts problem would remain (difficulty of sleeping by day)…

    Is the shifts organisation allowing such a choice ? If yes, do people do it ?

  7. Pointless unsubstantiated factoid: I have heard the practice of running day shift/night shift/day shift to be called “swing shifting”. It is supposed to be a practice used by employers to force unwanted employees to quit as it is almost impossible to keep up for any period of time. It is, I have been given to understand, illegal and considered a workplace violation. Anyone have any data to either support or refute this?

  8. “Crying over an RSPCA ad…” You crack me up.Whatever. At least now I know I'm not the only one who occassionally cries over cheesy commercials from lack of sleep…

    Rawk on.


  9. Being 3 score and ten, travelling for 20 hrs, then takes me 2 weeks to adjust to a day starting 8 hrs earlier, sleeping and waking out of sequence. Then I reverse the conditions [fortnight later]and repeat the sad process of sleeping when I should talking. 'Tis wot be called jet lagged vacation-Madness but wind be good.'Wen i be yung i did this' for Her majesty, and it was still madness, at 4 am [witching hour?or the lowess resistance against the elements]it be bad, they tell me, it is the time that more people quit the land of life, especially so in hospitals and hospices ?

    Dung beetle

  10. I'm the 12 hour shift – 4 days on 4 days off with each alternite shift being nights routine and have been for the last 3 years. This way I get basically 3 days off going from Night to Day shift then 5 off going from Days to Nights. The problem I find is that coming off nights is a lottery some times I get away with staright home to kip, 4 hours sleep then the worlds OK. I try this another time and it takes me days to get my life back.At least I'm worked as hard as you are all I've got to do is press buttons all night, on my own, which is a real bugger when you live on your own I basically see no-one for 100+ hours fun ain't it.

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