surviving on the graveyard shift

So a week and a half ago I got off my stint on the overnight shift, where I had worked for 16 months. This is not the night shift but the OVERNIGHT shift — generally 9 or 10 p.m. to around 7 or 7:30 a.m. It was a little bit awful, but everyone who works in my department at the LUNO (Large Unnamed News Organization) has to do their time on it. Anyway, here’s how I survived.

First, of course you’re think blackout curtains. But I have big windows that already had blinds, and I couldn’t figure out how to install a curtain rod — the space was just too big. So eventually what I did was bought cardboard from Staples and used velcro to put it up over the windows. It wasn’t the best solution, but it did keep my bedroom fairly dark during the day. And that is key if you’re going to be sleeping during the day.

Second, of course you want a sleep mask and silicone putty earplugs. I got mine from Duane Reade — Mack’s seem to be the best.

Third, and this is really the key thing: AMBIEN. Even with all that, I couldn’t get more than four or five hours sleep most days — sometimes less. There’d be some noise from construction, or the sun would shine in, or my cats would do something… and bam, I’m awake. And once you’re awake during the day, it’s just so much harder to get back to sleep than awaking in the middle of the night. So yeah, I used Ambien. (a 10 mg pill I snapped in two). It is really great and would put me right out. At first I tried over-the-counter sleep drug, Simply Sleep or something similar. The problem is that it would leave me groggy for hours after I woke up. My head would feel like it was underwater. Ambien had no such side-effects. It is really a great drug. And no, I don’t take it now that I’m off the overnight…

3 comments to surviving on the graveyard shift

  • Cristian Salazar

    Ah, Ambien! The scientist who created it deserves a Nobel prize. Not only did it help me to survive the last 6 months of my 24-month overnight stint, it also helped on weekends when I wanted to sleep like a normal person. Even with the drugs, you won’t notice how sleep-deprived you’ve been until about a month after readjusting to a diurnal lifestyle. So what’s next for you?

  • Well, for now I’m on the 3-11 p.m. shift. Not sure what will happen in five weeks…

  • Try Bucky’s sleep masks with ear plugs – i ca guarantee you will never sleep better!

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>