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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Struggles of a Night Shift Worker


So many people who work day shifts do
NOT understand the struggle nightshift workers go through - even if that night shift is two days a week. 

I actually work split shifts - one day shift and then two days off then two nights then two days off. I actually find this less brutal than three nights in a row that I once worked, but I am still affected by the nights I work. 

For those of us that work nights, shift work has been linked to chronic diseases especially certain cancers, metabolic problems, heart disease, ulcers, gastrointestinal problems and obesity. 

People who work night shifts or rotating shifts also often don’t sleep enough, and long-term sleep deprivation is known to be bad for a person's health. Shift work also disrupts the body’s natural circadian rhythms, It causes people to become out of sync with the external environment and/or behavioral cycles.


So you can understand - here are a few things that day shift workers take for granted:

1) SLEEP - I do not sleep 8 hours straight ever - even when I sleep at night like a "normal" person. I sleep in 4-5 hour increments. I get up and eat, wash dishes, read, wander aimlessly, go back and nap 2-3 hours. On any given day I sleep 5-8 hours, but more often than not I sleep 5-6 total a day. 

2) STAYING AWAKE - 2-4 AM is the worst - I have to do whatever I can - sing at the top of my lungs off key (sorry Mountainaires Ladies - it's true), exercise and hope we are busy because my body is like IT'S SLEEP TIME!!!

This is also on days off. If I want to do something I forego the sleep I need to do something like go places with people. I have had days where I have been awake 24-36 hours then CAN'T SLEEP because my body is like WHAT THE FUCK ARE WE DOING??

3) ACTIVITIES - Day shift people take for granted their days off. I hoard mine like Smaug the Dragon from the Hobbit or like Gollum with the Ring from Lord of the Rings. I have to turn down fun things because A) I am working the night before and need my sleep or B) It requires me to give up a precious day off sitting at home and trying to be normal and while I am not trying to be mean or ignore friendships, relaxing at home and sleep are far more important. 

4) EXPECTATIONS FROM OTHERS - I will admit I have applied for other jobs in the past and the interviewers CANNOT understand or comprehend that I am SLEEPING. 

"Well you don't want to work for our company if you can't forego two hours of sleep to interview on this day that you told us you couldn't interview on." 

NO - I don't want to work for your company if you can't understand that I NEED to sleep before I go into the job that is currently paying me to work for them and how would you feel if I made YOU wake up at 2 AM in the Morning to interview for two hours while YOU WERE SLEEPING?? 

5) RELATIONSHIPS - This goes back to the activities too - I have very few close relationships because relationships require that you spend time together and really - again just call me Smaug or Gollum because my time is PRECIOUS. And while I would love to have a ton of friends and do great things - I can't give up sleep to be that person. 


6) VACATION TIME - I plan my vacations strategically. This means I pick so many days a year to do things like A) Visit Mom B) Model Horse Shows C) Longmire Days D)Other fun things. But the real issue is not that I stay up all night, but when I come back to work the first night is BRUTAL. My body is like BUT I THOUGHT WE WERE DAY SHIFT. 


7) DRIVING AFTER MY SHIFT - Is terrifying and I only have 2 miles to drive. The problem is I have just worked a 12 hour shift and my brain is like HEY NAP TIME and I have to have all the windows down on cold days, talk to someone - my mom or a friend willing for me to wake them up at 6 AM and pray I make it home in one piece. I don't know how some of my coworkers drive 30 minutes to an hour home! I always worry for them. 

8) CAFFEINE - I am allergic to caffeine - I can have a little chocolate before my body reacts but no soda or coffee so I have to rely on sugary stuff to stay awake (thus the 30# overweight-see #9). 

9) HEALTH PROBLEMSI have ADHD all my life. Granted they didn't know what it was when I was a child and I wasn't diagnosed until I was in my 20's, but I have found that my ADHD/RSD can be triggered easier on the nights I work. I eat healthy, exercise daily whether its hiking, yoga, dance, or walking and I am still 30# over what my doctor wants me to be. I eat about 10-12 small meals a day because to sit and eat a full meal makes me stick to my stomach. I have high blood pressure and all I really want to do is SLEEP.

10) WORK ENVIRONMENT - most day shift workers take for granted the help they have from managers and other staff. At night - you are by yourself making some choice decisions without managers and back up staff. Day shift workers get parties and have multiple meal options to choose from for their lunch breaks. Night shift workers have A) what they brought and hope it's still appetizing at 2 AM or B) whatever crappy fast food delivery there is that doesn't close before midnight. 


So when your friend(s) or family member(s) work night shift - they aren't trying to be assholes never doing anything with you or calling you. They are just trying to survive in a world that you don't understand. 

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