Why Is It
To Limit Your Sleep
When You Work Night Shift?
What do I mean limit your sleep? I thought you had to catch up on sleep when you work night shift?
What I’ve seen in the few years of working nights are two things. Two things about sleep that might help you balance your life outside and inside work.
So what have I found out? When I first started I noticed that my routine was so off I couldn’t sleep like everyone else. I either got tons of sleep or almost no sleep. When my body adapted after a month I ONLY slept during the day. When I changed jobs, added trying to live my live outside of work, I found that I again either slept for long hours (12+) or I barely slept (less than 4). What was my problem? Why couldn’t I have both a day life and a night job?
Life outside of work was important to me. I just didn’t know how important it was to be regimented in my schedule. Yet. There came a point where I was working a business, traveling, and working full time at night. I was so stressed out, run down and generally unhappy I nearly had a break down. If anyone has ever screamed, and I mean screamed/yelled/redfaced argument with your boss, the one who hired you, it’s time to let something go or change what you’re doing.
I moved… again…
De-stressed and found a happy place. When I started adding things back into my life I was on top of it. I planned out my schedule and I stuck to it. I modified it when I needed to. The only problem was I thought I could do anything any time because I had a schedule and therefore started doing things, taking naps and not sleeping a full 8 hours. That yielded me times where I couldn’t sleep at all and times where I could barely hold my head up.
Noticing I needed a change, yet again…
I started my uncompromising schedule. I didn’t do anything at times when I was supposed to be going to bed. Even if this was 10 am and I had the chance to meet with a big shot business guy I would have to say no if my schedule was telling me I had other responsibilities to attend to that day. I’m not rude about it but I need to let people know that I’m not super human and need to get some rest!
So here we are today
Not only do I continue to plan out my sleep, but I’ve noticed that if I take care of myself physically, mentally and emotionally I can sleep a little less and be more flexible with my schedule down the road. I’ve learned that when you take care of yourself your body will willingly adapt to a specific regimen. If you go off the reserve your body will let you know by making you feel like absolute shit, make you sick, make you exhausted, or moody.
Why do I say we need to sleep less?
Well when you are on a specific sleep track and are regularly getting 6 to 8 hours of sleep and you try to sleep more than that your body will actually react to it. I can’t prove it scientifically but from my own personal experience I can tell you that some of my hardest days getting out of bed have been when I try to get some extra sleep on a regular day. Even if I’ve had a rough week of no sleep for one reason or another, I would actually recommend staying on schedule instead of trying to get extra rest. Good self care, which includes keeping on a decent diet, exercise of your choice and reducing your static time (meaning sitting for more than an hour at a time) will help you recover.
I had to get a 3 floor 2700 sq/ft house ready for sale by myself. It’s pretty new but I still had to clean the whole thing, move the rest of the residual furniture out of the house, sell it all, and dump the trash. I was on a 4 day work week, I have a business I’m working to grow which means scheduling meetings, doing phone calls, and sharpening skill sets. In addition to that I also had to take care of the apartment, the two dogs and bird all while my lady was away for the week.
Did this suck!? Yes.
One morning while driving home from working on the house, I had to slap myself repeatedly to stay awake. I ended up sacrificing the little time I had during the afternoon to go work on the house. My weekend was also sacrificed to finish up the house. I was there at 2 am dumping trash and sweeping out the garage.
Did this all suck? Fuck yes it did!
Let’s look at the after affect.
I was done with the house but I was not only exhausted but developed a little cold because I got so run down. In the days after I didn’t sleep as much as I could, I actually kept to my sleep schedule as much as I could. I had to continue to go to work, I had to continue managing my life, and I had to pick up on my exercise regimen again. I don’t remember much of my activity but I do know that a week after all of that mess I was back on top.
Still a bit sick but because of my habits I bounced back quicker than I usually would have. I also didn’t sleep any extra. I actually slept and continue to sleep less than 7 hours a night. Is that healthy? I’m not sure to be honest. I don’t really know what my body looks like on the inside. What I do know is that I feel better and better every day and continuing to be conscious of my body and how it feels is key to my continuing success working the night shift.
Night Shift Take-Away:
What can a fellow shifter get from this post?
- Find a sleep schedule that works for you. I don’t care what it is because you are the one that has to deal with it. Find something that doesn’t bounce back and forth between a day and night schedule. Sleep half way in between and you should be fine. (not to mention you’ll have enough time during the day to get things done.) For examples see my DOWNLOADS page.
- Stick to that schedule. Realize that things are always happening around you no matter if you take part or not. You will miss things, you will take part in things. But if you don’t respect yourself enough to rest when you really need it then you really shouldn’t be working on night shift.
- Don’t be an asshole to others about it. Be self aware enough to realize when you need rest and when you just need some coffee or a pick-me-up. Others will never understand what you go through physically on a day to day basis unless they do it themselves. So respect that fact and don’t hold it against them. Yet don’t let them guilt you into thinking you should be up at 6 am jogging with them on a day when you need to be sleeping at that time. Or constantly going out to get shit faced on a regular basis. Or guilting you because you can only hang out after 11am every day. If they’re your friend or a respected part of your life they will understand your limitations.
- Know your limits. Know when it’s time to quit and sleep, and when you need to forge forward. It’s a process.
- Be patient, be kind to yourself, and don’t be down because it doesn’t work the first few times you try.
As always I wish you the best of luck. If you feel you need a little help getting through things like this feel free to contact me. Everything is on the website!