[ NOte from NOel : As you might guess, I just got home from work and I can’t sleep. Even more unfortunately, I have no PC, so if you can believe this, I’m writing this by hand, kulit ko no, and by the time you read this I will have hopefully gotten a bit of sleep. Buenas noches ustedes ! ]
Dear batchmates, schoolmates, brods, officemates, kabayan and friends :
THE WORST scenario, by a wide margin, is facing the next night without a wink of sleep, having been issued and / or using a roundtrip ticket on the WideAwake Express the past 24 hours.
Without a doubt, this is the single greatest dread of the conscripted night shifter caught between the cracks of fatigue and accidental wakefulness (more on that later).
But there are varying degrees of torture above rock bottom.
For starters, how about intermittent, disturbed slices of hour-long rest that you endure until you give up on uninterrupted, restful sleep, condemned to being the walking undead among the alert and the refreshed?
Try this : everytime you doze off into tentative sleep, a sudden noise or sound reverts you right back into wide-eyed mode; the bright sunshine doesn’t help, and the speeding motorists zooming by your proletarian flat don’t seem to care.
Your consciousness is like a PC on screensaver : it’s never turned off, but because your energy and rest is depleted, you can’t function fully, since you are merely a half-life masquerading as full.
Lastly, each time you are inadvertently roused from precious sleep, for one reason or another, it becomes progressively harder to return to your previous status of near-sleep. It’s a familiar paradox : the harder you try to sleep, the more tense you get, the further the goal of achieving a relaxed state, and ultimately the unlikelier Dreamland becomes as a stress-free destination.
Since I got here four years ago last month, there haven’t been many jobs I haven’t tried, training regimens I haven’t submitted to, employers I haven’t gotten along with, and customers I haven’t appreciated.
The one aspect of work I’ve never gotten used to, that I’ve never looked forward to as part of the job description is the so-called shift work, specifically night shift work.
Early mornings are OK, working till midnight is tolerable. But it’s the all-nighter, sometimes called the graveyard shift between 11 pm and 7 am that gets to me and ages me weeks and months (instead of days) at a time.
I’m not complaining. It’s only one week a month, and needless to say (although I’m saying it now) anyone working a decent job in a decent country has no cause to moan and groan. But in an ideal job there is always the scab, the persistent itch that can’t be scratched, or the sore that won’t heal.
Blame it on age, being set in my ways, or just an inability to make snap adjustments in my body clock, but my energy level goes down whenever it’s my turn to work through the dead of night. My shift boss is at least 10 years my junior and hardly seems to be bothered by the ungodly hours. If anything, he relishes the nocturnal serenity, all the more to focus on getting the job done and finishing all tasks with the least drama in the mix.
But the nip of the cold night wind, the disorientation of working without the gradual changes of daylight, and lack of human interaction (there are only two of us throughout the shift) don’t make it any easier for us.
[ By the way, by accidental wakefulness in paragraph 2 I mean drinking too much coffee, getting overly hyper ( if there’s such a thing ) for anticipated stress and potential problems, or getting too much sleep Sunday, like 10 to 14 hours, before a week of night shift. So it’s true young Grasshopper, you CAN have too much of a good thing. ]
The irony is I worked back home in Call Center City, that’s Ortigas Center Pasig, and we didn’t feel as badly the dull throb of resetting your body clock, probably because the work was livelier, there were dozens of us in communal work stations, and our team leaders found ways to keep the laughs coming and the energy levels stoked.
Again, no complaints here, but not only are we now half a world away, performing this type of night shift work, as a pawn in the eternal battle of Man versus Machine, is a world of difference.
** ** **
Now if I can only acknowledge work with the following realities I know I should be fine :
(1) I’ve given up the notion that the Sandman will issue me the necessary eight hours of shuteye. This is impractical post night shift, because as mentioned earlier, it’s much harder to sleep in a daytime environment.
(2) I’ve accepted the distinct possibility that my quota of sleep is best filled cumulatively , whether in two halves, three thirds or four quarters. Now, whether I’m able to dream and achieve REM ( precious Rapid-Eye Movement of deep-sleep ) is discussion for another day (or night).
(3) Since it takes so little to rouse (not arouse) me from sleep and much more to get back into the groove of sleeping, I should invest in protecting the brightness and noise levels of my slumber area, especially against sudden and unexpected incursions. Common sense, but easier said than done.
(4) It’s a luxury, but prudent to keep the Saturday right after night shift free for sleep recovery. After that, I’m right as rain and good to go.
Sleep well everyone, and thanks for reading !
- Teenage sleepyheads get a late start at one Toronto school (parentcentral.ca)
- Recalling memories while asleep helps lock them in place (arstechnica.com)
- Beware, night owls (beinghealthyhomeandaway.blogspot.com)
- Sleeping Protects Memories From Corruption (wired.com)
- Sleep Makes the Memory (usnews.com)
- Remedies for Sleep Problems Due to Aging (everydayhealth.com)
- Experts Believe Festive Break Could Cause Misaligned Circadian Rhythm (prweb.com)
- Sleep and Your Different States of Consciousness (psychologytoday.com)
- Memories are made like this – sleeping on them (telegraph.co.uk)
- Irregular sleep-wake syndrome – All Information (umm.edu)