Night Shift

Working night shift wears me out. We do a lot of “swing shifts” from days (7a-7p) to mids (10a-10p) to nights (7p-7a). Fortunately, in-house rules exist as to how we structure our schedule but I still struggle with those damn nights.

Anyone else out there have issues with swinging from days to nights and back in a few short days? More importantly, do you have tricks that work?

As all in the HEMS industry know, we have fought safety issues and criticism related to our horrible accident record in 2009. In one online article related to the NTSB hearing quoted Eileen Frazer, RN, executive director of CAMTS who stated:

“The No. 1 issue we have concerns about is fatigue and sleep deprivation,” Frazer testified. She said 49% of helicopter EMS accidents happen at night, while only 34% of flights take place at night. “One of our biggest concerns is sleep inertia — that period after you wake up. What is your cognitive function? What are your psychomotor skills and what activities must you do immediately after being awakened?”

[emphasis mine]

I recently completed online and in house sleep safety training. I KNOW what happens when I am too tired. I know that proper diet, exercise, sleep, etc will help prevent fatigue.

But the question still hangs out there—–how the hell do I flip back and forth between these varied shifts?

*head desk*

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  1. Alas, I wouldn’t give you any tips you haven’t already heard. Nights were brutal on me and my body, ergo the reason I don’t do nights or the flip-flop anymore.
    Full fledged insomnia will do that to a person.
    The only thing that helped me was taking that ‘nap’ prior to working the PM shift. And always stopping the caffeine 1-2 hrs prior to end of shift. I would always make the greatest attempt at going straight to bed, but that never worked.

    Good luck girl.

  2. On my way to work last night I decided that I just need to look at it from another view. For example, I have 2 days off between night shifts this week. I am going to attempt to stay on night schedule by talking myself into sleeping in (yay!) and using the late nights to work on my websites and writing. These are both things I don’t usually do during the day because I feel like I need to be outside working. I will allow myself a guiltless indulgence and see how it works!

    And Sean? Thanks for making me feel like less of a wimp for feeling like the nights were wrecking me! I thought I was just being a big baby.

  3. I soooo agree with you regarding burnout. I also have literary envy because I don’t feel that my writing style is polished or funny enough. I also don’t have “the mug” for video blogging. Ha! Ha!