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Saturday, July 13, 2013

How I Work Night Shift and Love My Life

 I get asked pretty frequently about working night shift.  I think people are really curious since it is such a different lifestyle than most people live.

I mean look at this!
Doesn't it look glamorous?!  Apparently it's going to be a new show on NBC this fall.  Betcha I won't like it.  Don't even get me started about the doctor in jeans and a v-neck with the IV pole.  I won't be able to stop. 

Anyway, Night Shift.  Since I get so many question from people, I thought I would blog about some of the night shift FAQs which are: When do you sleep?  Do you switch back and forth?  When do you eat?  Is it is hard on your marriage?  When are you going to switch to day shift? 

First, let me start out by saying that I love working night shift!  Are you surprised?  For some night shifters, they love it all their life.  For others, it is a season that is very difficult to get used to so they switch as soon as they get the opportunity.  While I would say it is a season for me, its a season I am really enjoying.  Michael and I have a fairly uncomplicated life right now.  It's just us two, no dog, no kids.  A big house renovation,  but that is about it! Someday that will change, and so too, maybe, will my perspective on working night shift.  But for now, I love it.

But it is a very foreign concept for most people so I hope to give you a little insight into the life of a nightshifter.


When do you sleep?

There are two main strategies for switching to a night shift schedule.  

Strategy #1: This is the strategy I use most often for switching from sleeping at night to sleeping during the day.  What I do is I stay up as late as I possibly can (typically about 4am) and then sleep during the day.  Pretty simple.  And the nice thing about this strategy is that I can be pretty productive.  So I cook, clean, bake, blog, research/shop for house stuff, do laundry, exercise, craft, etc.. Sometimes I really look forward to that time.

Strategy #2: In this strategy, in order to switch to a night shift schedule, all I do is take a nap.  Usually in the afternoon before I work nights, I just take a couple hour nap.  This is probably the most common strategy.  You wouldn't guess it, but I typically feel the best when I do this.  It seems to make for an easier transition.  It is also nice if I have things I need to do in the morning.

Do you switch back and forth?

Yes, because I am a nurse at a hospital I get the glorious opportunity to work 12 hour shifts.  That means I get to work 3 days a week and still be full time.  So with anywhere between 3 days off in a row to up to 5, it gives me plenty of time to switch my sleep schedule back to normal.  To switch back to a normal sleep schedule, commonly, most night shifters (including myself) will sleep for a couple of hours when they get home from work -till about noon- and then wake up and go about the day.  Then sleep at night.   It works pretty well most of the time. (Except for this morning where I woke up at 5:30am thinking about this blog post). 

Things that help the transition: Room darkening shades over the window, melatonin, and benadryl!

When do you eat?

I just kind of eat when I am hungry.  When I am on a night schedule, I eat dinner with Michael when he gets home from work in the evening, I eat lunch at around 2am, and I eat a light breakfast at around 5:30 or 6am. 

Is it hard on our marriage? 

Overall, I would say no. Actually, night shift works pretty well for us.  Michael usually gets home from work at around 4:30pm which gives us two quality hours to catch up with each other before I have to leave for work around 6:30pm. We have dinner, I hear about his day, I tell him about my night, we talk about the house, etc.. Michael gets the best of my day, instead of, if I worked day shift, the exhausted worked-all-day Laura.  

When are you going to switch to day shift?

I got this questions a lot from family and friends when I  first started working nights. Probably because, I was so vocal about wanting to work days, and NOT wanting to work nights.  But it didn't take long for me to be hooked on night shift.

 There are so many things I love about working nights
1. You get paid more
 Holla for shift differential!

2. It is less stressful than working day shift
 Less doctors, less orders, less procedures, less drama.... most of the time. :-)

3. I get evenings with my family
This is particularly a plus on holidays.  When I work a holiday, I usually don't have to miss out since I always have a couple of good hours before I go into work to celebrate.

3. I get to work and bond with some amazing people
Since night shift is typically less chaotic and stressful than day shift, we really get the opportunity to bond with our fellow night shifters.  We work hard, but we also laugh, cry, vent, and share life.  I truly have never worked with a better group of people. 
Just some of the wonderful people I work with

So that's the jist of things! If you have other questions or things you are curious about, feel free to ask me!