16 April 2013

N is for...

Hello, and welcome to day fourteen of the A to Z Challenge!

Today's topic is Night Shifts. Specifically, 12.5 hour overnight shifts.

I work three 12.5 hour shifts a week at my job; the remaining 2.5 are filled by a *thrilling* staff meeting. One of my shifts spans the night. It's interesting, for several reasons.

First, night shifts start off hectic and frenetic and scrambling to get everything done that needs to get done in a four hour span from 7p to 11p. Of course, it really ends up being from 7:30p to 11p, because we're in shift change for the first 30 minutes. So, what happens in this incredibly small window of time? Group, snack, medications, individual sessions, sometimes transport to an AA meeting, an intake… That can be a lot.

Once the residents go to bed for the night, the program takes on this quiet, somber note. We do bed checks hourly, we do assorted administrative tasks, we prep the breakfast stuff and make coffee for the morning (for the residents). If it's a good, Q-U-I-E-T (SHHHHH DON'T SAY IT… Geez. You could be jinxing a night shift somewhere!) kind of night, then we can watch movies, read a book. I've been known to edit or knit on a night shift. We (the staff on shift) can also get into these really deep and philosophical discussions about the meaning of life and other stuff. Deep, I know.

Then there are those, other kind of nights. Multiple calls from Emergency Services, intakes galore. Residents who can't sleep and are up, roaming the building. Those nights, by the time the morning shift change is over, make you feel like you work twice as long as you actually did.

If you're lucky, you got a decent amount of sleep prior to working. I seem to be in the rare minority that can actually sleep during the day before to ensure I am rested and energized for my shift. If you're really lucky, you don't have a rapid turnaround for going from night to day. I am currently not so lucky there.

Working a night throws off all kinds of rhythms, circadian and otherwise. There are all kinds of health-related problems that are attributed to this kind of schedule. I do my best to combat it by getting plenty of sleep, exercising, and eating healthily.

What about the rest of you with night shift experience? What are some of your favorite parts? What do you struggle with most?

Also, I apologize for the last two posts going up so late. I promise we'll be back on an early schedule starting tomorrow! See you then!


  1. I've never worked a night shift. I fear I'd be doomed in the sleep department. I find it impossible to sleep during daylight hours, and I wake up with the sun. Clearly, I'm not a vampire. Well, not a traditional vampire. ;-)

  2. Ha! For a period of time, Ellen, I worked only night shifts. When I switched back to days, my coworkers were afraid I was going to burst into flames when the sun rose. :-)

    Once you get the hang of it, it's not so bad. The important thing is to be occupied as much as possible, so your brain doesn't fizzle out on you (making you sleepy).

  3. I found myself singing "Night Shift" while reading this. I will try really hard not to sing it every time I have an Amy sighting ;)
    - Heather The Evil Twin with Love from the A to Z Challenge @thewinetwins.blogspot.com