Here I am, at work. It’s 02:57 BST and I’m trying to find things to keep myself awake until 7AM. Whilst everyone around me is pretending not to snooze at their desks I thought I would use my time productively and do something worthwhile. So here you have it – my current thoughts and feelings on shift work…
You don’t know when or what to eat.
“My minds telling me no, but my body, my body is telling me yes”,but wait; in this case it’s certainly your body telling you no. ‘No, you should not have a whole pizza to yourself at 8.30 in the morning, you cretin’. You’ve finished your shift and your 40 minute drive home and you’re not quite sure whether it’s breakfast or dinner. You face dilemmas such as ‘is it okay to have a drink after work to wind down?’ And the simple answer, as I have been told many a time is – no, it’s not okay. Nobody should be drinking a large glass of vino before at least midday, even if you are about to hit the sack and sleep through a day of mediocre daytime TV. As well as this, you’re in a constant state of food-craving limbo for the 5 days and nights you are on shift. So have fun trying to trick your body into thinking it was all a prank and that you’re gonna be eating breakfast, lunch and dinner at a normal time because you won’t be! This creates another problem..
You genuinely don’t know what day it is anymore.
the first thing you’ll think of when You wake up is ‘what day is it?’ And You won’t think this is particularly bizzare until you genuinely don’t know what day of the week it is, what time it might be and even your own name because you’ve been awake for 3 nights in a row. Be prepared for the confused stares and cocked heads when you’re referring to what happened yesterday, not realising that whatever happened did in fact take place this morning or 2 days ago. Your friends think you’re insane but won’t tell you, they’ll just give you funny looks and quietly discuss between themselves what may have happened to your mental state in the few days they haven’t heard from you.
You simply can’t keep up with your friends.
Ever woken up to 347 Whatsapp messages? I have and that’s including 206 sent in the same group chat. Whilst you’ve been sprawled out in bed, creating a puddle of drool deep enough to house a school of small fish; your friends have moved out, gotten married, had kids, sent kids to university and relocated to other countries. You now have to sit and dedicate time to skim reading through the hundreds of mostly pointless messages surrounding these riveting events or you’ll be caught out by the inevitable ‘You don’t listen to me! Don’t you remember?! I told you this yesterday!’ to which you’ll mentally reply ‘My yesterday or your yesterday? What day is it?’
Morning Wood and Mixed Emotions.
When you spend 12 hours with the same people for four or five days at a time, you become unnoticeably comfortable with them until you blurt something out that even shocks yourself. For example, ‘don’t you find that you get really horny at 6am when your shift is finishing?’ And to your surprise everyone is quick to agree and offer explanations as to why. You also realise that the closer to the end of your shift, the funnier everything gets. You’re off your face on a mixture of cheap coffee, original Lucozade and extreme fatigue. You erupt into maniacal laughter at anything that would normally only result in an inward chuckle. Everything becomes one big joke. However, you notice your dear colleague is quietly sobbing to herself whilst watching the Real Housewives of Orange County because “they’re just being so nice to each other”. Everyone’s a mess – It’s definitely time for bed.
People tend to think you’re lazy
Just because I’ve been in bed all day, doesn’t mean a) I’ve been asleep all day or b) I don’t have things to do. I have a multitude of things to do, an endless list, but do you get up during the night to catch up on washing or housework? No, I didn’t think so. The day is now your night time, don’t let anybody take that away from you. You’ll get the odd remark about wasting your days sleeping but you didn’t invest in blackout blinds and sound cancelling headphones for no reason! Whether you live with housemates, your partner or your parents, unless they’ve been in your position do not waste your breath trying to explain your tiredness and how an extra hours sleep makes all the difference. Just accept defeat, embrace your title as ‘eternal sleeper’ and move on.
There’s always a silver lining
It’s not all bad news, you can catch up on all the TV you’ve slept through during the day and you don’t tend to spend as much money because you’re always asleep or at work. Your friends eventually come to understand that you’re not a recluse and you’re not purposely avoiding them, you just need to manage your free time. Most people have some kind of admiration for you because, frankly the thought of breaking their tight-as-assholes 9-5 routine is terrifying and they either think you’re an alien or a God of sorts.
If you agree with me, or even if you dont, let me know! I’d love to hear your thoughts.