Shift Work (Tricks of the Trade #2)

I think I must have a slight infection or something – all I want to do is sleep, and I've lost all motivation to do anything other than sleep and lay around doing nothing. This is Not Good, and something I'll regret when I'm back at work
Shift work is a bastard.

I really do mean that, it's bad for your health, your social life, and your ability to interact with the world around you.

So how do I deal with working shifts?

Firstly, no matter when I'm awake, there is a timezone somewhere in the world where it is daylight. So by having friends spread around the globe, there is always someone to talk to no matter the time.

But there does comes a time when you need to reset your bodies timezone with the timezone that you are physically in. If your shift is a 'one off', then you can reset gradually, by going to bed an hour later every night until you catch up with the rest of local time.

The problem that many of us shiftworkers have to deal with is that while I'm getting up at 4pm right now, in three days time I need to be getting up at 5am. So for me, it's time for some pain.

Going from night shift to a day shift is really painful. I finish work at 06:30, I go home, I stay awake until 21:00.

I'll have been awake for 21 to 23 hours, but despite the pain (and trust me, spending almost all your life in a state of perpetual jetlag is no fun), you can then set your alarm clock for 7am where you wake feeling as fresh as a daisy.

(Or rather in my case, feeling like a nearly-dead thing, that wishes to be completely-dead).

Turning a dayshift into a nightshift is easier for me because I'm naturally a nightowl. What I do is on the day before my nightshift, I'll snooze until midday, then stay awake until about 5am. I'll set my alarm for 8 hours sleep, so I'll wake up at 1pm, but will be ready to do my nightshift without feeling too awful.

Of course, the real trick of this trade is making sure you don't work rotating shifts.

9 thoughts on “Shift Work (Tricks of the Trade #2)”

  1. i must agree with everything you have said. especially regarding social lives. i used to go out at least once a week, then i started shifts 18 months ago, ive been out on 6 occaisions (all nighters kind of thing) in that time but they are so sparse my friends have stopped asking 🙁

  2. or… have a social life that revolves around student nurses and the university bar.. then you can all do nights togeather, spend the day drinking, then go back to nights again. P-A-R-T-Y

  3. hope you are feeling more alive soon.I really admire shift workers and I'm glad you are all there when needed. I sometimes moan about my job but basically am really glad I only have to 'care' 9 – 5ish. Of course some people would say that Care Managers 'don't care and don't manage' (one GP remark) – but that would be just cynical, eh!

  4. Not that its as hard work or anything but I used to work for a fast food place with Golden Arches and I used to do awful shifts eg start at 6 am and finish at 2 am the following day. I did that for almost 2 years and it almost killed me!Liz & Baby Josh

  5. Hi – I've done shifts, its a killer, have you tried seratonin to stop the jet lag problem. The other trick is establish a routine before getting some sleep, this can tell the body that it's 'sleep time'Geoff

  6. Agreed. I really resent it when you have a quick turn around, eg. finish on a Monday morning, then have to be back at work on a Tuesday day shift. I really try to stay awake all day, I feel robbed that I'm losing a day off. It never works though, I fell asleep at the gym once.Cheers

  7. I’ve been doing the 4 on-4 off 12 hour shift pattern with each alternate 4 shifts on nights, for 3 & years and still not found a consistent way of easing off the night shift. One thing I try and do is have something on the day I finish nightshift, have a maximum of 4 hours sleep then go to the gym, go for a few beers with my mates, see my family, something – anything………Totally agree it not only screws you up physiologically but is a social nightmare, my friends are now used to me asking them what day it is, not the date but whether it is a Monday, Thursday or Saturday.

  8. I find it a bastard too, continually changing shifts. From Days to nights – I go to be for about 4 or 5 hours in the afternoon, from nights back on to days takes me all the next week. By the time I get my weekend off I'm so tired I just sleep.Shift work is a complete bastard. loads of fun.

  9. I'm lucky. For some reason, I can swap between day and night shifts with no problems at all. Many of my colleagues are envious of me for this.

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