Have you ever walked out the front door and been suddenly and painfully struck blind? Have you looked into the sky and wondered what that awfully bright yellow ball was doing there? These might be indicators that you are either a vampire, (although the catching on fire bit should be a give away here) or you work nights.
Recently, after working night shifts for a solid year, I was asked to cover a day shift. At 12 hour shifts, the over time alone was more than I could refuse. After setting foot outside around noon for some fresh air, I realized what I had been missing; and I wanted to give it back. My eyes felt like they were being ironed, the heat was miserably oppressive, and I immediately turned around and went back to the cave.
For those who alternate between day and night work, it can be a downright miserable experience unless you are aware of some of the things that can be done to help alleviate some of the symptoms of throwing your body into shock repeatedly. Following are some of the things I have found that help me when rotating my work/sleep schedule.
1. Get plenty of sleep the day/night before. If this means staying awake longer the day before you go back to work, do it. Trust me, it is worth it. This step alone makes all the difference to me.
2. Food is not optional for the night shift worker. Don’t just skip the middle meal. I continue to struggle with eating regularly, and I tend to pay for it everyday. My blood sugar, I’m sure, would be reading very low numbers on my way home in the mornings, and I’m constantly struggling with stomach cramps.
3. Lastly, and most importantly; do not take on more than you can handle! Yes, the overtime is extremely tempting, but if you burn out in two weeks, all the overtime in the world won’t make it worth it.
I hope others can learn from my stumbling head first into these discoveries. I made, and continue to make, these very mistakes, and I continue to pay the price for my inability to take my own advice.