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Night shifts

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
Hey guys

Does anyone here do shift work? How do you get used to it?

I've got 3 weeks of all over the place shifts. Some mornings, some days, some lates and a few nights. I think I'd prefer if I had a set of nights or whatever (which is what happens if you're on a rota normally) to get into some sort of habit. My sleep is really shit anyway, and I take sedative anti-depressants (not really sure how that's going to work.....).

I know it's something I just need to man up about, but any recommendations to make them slightly more OK?


  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    i've worked airport shifts for four and a half years. most common shifts for me are 4am-2pm, 5am-3pm, 12noon-10pm, 1pm-11pm but that varies. when i'm at uni i only do one day a week and that's usually an early.

    it's grim and it doesn't really get much better with experience. it is easier when you have a run of earlies/lates but like you i haven't always had that, especially last summer it was a complete jumble of early/late/middle. when i first started working earlies someone advised me to stay up when i got home and go to bed early, i.e. get in at 3pm and stay up until about 7, then go to bed and get up at 2 or whatever. i did do that for quite a while but it's really hard, when you work long hours you're knackered when you come home anyway, so when you're sleep deprived it's even worse. the last few years at work i've just slept when i can, so when i'm on a run of earlies i usually sleep when i get in then get up for a bit and go back to bed for a few hours before work. the first early is always horrendous because you can't sleep really early the night before so you're doing 9-10 hours work on barely any sleep (that's me every weekend atm).

    so yeah with the mixture of shifts i'd just literally sleep whenever you can or whenever you're tired, you don't have much chance of getting into a routine so just try to get all the rest you can. i don't know what effect my medication has had on my ability to get up really early because i've always been on them since having this job but i haven't been sacked yet so i guess it can't be too terrible.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I work shifts similar to you including earlys, lates, long days and nights. so what will you be doing just one night then the rest of the day off for sleeping then another shift the next day?

    I do 2 or 3 nights in a row, I used to do 4 but I found it too hard. my tips are...

    -before you go on your first one obviously it's not natural to sleep in the day as you've already slept all night but I try and sleep in as late as possible, either that or I go back to bed after tea, even if you only lie there reading for a couple of hours at least you've had that rest before work.

    - on the actual night shift I don't know what your career is but I look after disabled children in their own homes (children on ventilators etc) so I'm on my own all night! this can be hard as I don't have anybody to talk to and have to keep myself entertained all night (in between doing my tasks of course) I do puzzle books to keep my mind active and alert (ish!)

    - all my nurse friends who do nights agree with this - you need sugar! I usually take a treat for about 3/4am, just a milky way or something, it's something to look forward to as well. fruit is good too, and of course there's always energy drinks/coffee if you need a perk up, obviously it's not good to get dependent on them as they're not good for you. buti take a can of blue charge (asdas own!) and usually have two or three swigs if I'm really struggling and it definitely helps.

    - when you finish and get home everybody has their own routine, I personally have to go to bed straight away, if I try and stay up i get past being sleepy, I have 2 pieces of toast otherwise I wake up hungry in a few hours. make it as dark as possible in your room (blackout curtains are good, as are sleep masks) try and make it as quiet as possible (ear plugs if needed) and then...sleep! I usually wake up about 2pm but I know others sleep allll day, then I have another nap after tea. I don't start my night shifts until 10pm though. others I know come home and do jobs (shopping, cleaning) and then sleep, it's really what's better for you and you'll work it out.

    basically they take over your life you can't have much of a social life when you're on them as you're either working or sleeping BUT, they're not forever, and honestly, they're not that bad! plus for me the wage is worth it :) I wouldn't like to do them permanently though!

    I feel this is really long so ill stop now ha :) xx
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Haha thanks guys! All really useful points :) Luckily it will only be like this for the next 3 weeks and then I should go back to normal for a while - with lots to look forward to in the future :p
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Man up and get on with it.

    On a more constructive note, when I was working all sorts of weird and wonderful hours last year I found that trying to keep a 'normal' pattern really helped.

    By that I mean I had 'breakfast' at the start of the shift/before the start, of breakfast type food, 'lunch' about 5 hours after breakfast, and then 'dinner' at the end of it. Then stay up for at least an hour after finishing the shift, then go to bed. Have an alarm set for about 6-8 hours later wherever possible and get up to a breakfast kind of meal.

    If you're going over onto a late/night then a lie in combined with an early evening 'nap' works quite well. Like others have said, even if you don't sleep - curl up in bed in low light with a book or similar and doze.

    Also, eat healthy - get the fruit and veg in, don't do it all on sugar highs, slow release carbs help, and try and get some exercise in. Tire muscles really help with the sleeping when it's time to.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I've been working shifts for 10 years now, it never gets any easier, but scary monster's advice to live as normal as possible helps. There is always a massive temptation to live on junk food, resist it. Cook some proper meals on your day off, I normally make a massive batch of chilli and eat it on my lates with potato/rice/pasta. Tastes nicer by the last day as well.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    definitely agree with sm and whowhere. retain as much normality as possible. eat what you would usually eat for breakfast- even if it is at a crazy time. just do what you need to cope with the next 3 weeks and listen to your body. forget all other obligations for a while. you can do it :heart:

    .. and take time out for a long soak in the bath!
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