Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The sleeping patterns of the soon to be certifiable...

So let's say I started off the week with the best intentions. When I saw "started off the week" I mean last Tuesday. Because that's what shift work does to you. You don't start on a Monday morning. You start on a block of shifts after a few days off, wherever they might fall. 

So my week started last Tuesday, with three 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. shifts in a row. 

Now, 2-10s are my favourite shift. Really, they are. Because they mean I get to sleep in until noon, and stay up until about 2 a.m. writing. I write best at night. No idea why, that's just the way it is. 

On Friday I started a run of three night shifts -- 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. And these are my second favourite shifts. Not because there is anything so great about them (except the possibility of watching The Love Boat, Magnum PI, and that one with the helicopter that appears to be a rip off of Knight Rider), but just because I hate them less than morning shifts.  

My least favourite shift is the dreaded 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Because my alarm goes off at 5 a.m, and I don't wake up until at least 11 a.m. I'm always quite surprised when it happens. Hey look, I managed to drag myself to work again. I even appear to have operated on autopilot competently enough that nobody noticed. What do you mean my shirt's on inside-out? 


After night work came three days off, and I had some plans for those three days, let me tell you. Those would be my Writing Days. Hell, yes. I'd get those line edits done, I'd catch up on my emails, I'd actually reply to comments on my blog, and I'd really get to grips with the WIP that's been tormenting me since December, and get a start on the new one that I want to finish by May. 

So here's how that went down... 

Monday is a write-off. You finish at 6 a.m, so it's not like you can spring straight into action. So you set your alarm for about 11, figuring that you need to keep a decent balance: enough sleep so you can actually almost function in the afternoon, but not enough that you aren't too tired to go to bed at a reasonable hour that night. 

I was so good, I promise. I staggered out of bed at 11 a.m. I tidied the house. I sorted out my mail, and possibly even posted some in the right envelopes. I struggled to stay awake until 9 p.m, and then I went to bed to read for an hour. Which turned into six hours. Which turned into a 3 a.m. marathon of Modern Family, complete with toast and strawberry jam. But it was okay, see, as long as I could switch my body clock back on Tuesday. 

I finally got to sleep at 5 a.m. on Tuesday morning.  To be fair, I blame a lot of this on my pseudonym's co-author, who is in the US and emails me at odd hours. And I get those emails and read them. And reply to them. And suddenly it's daytime. 

I slept through until 9 a.m. on Tuesday when the alarm went off. I managed to exchange some polite pleasantries with the plumber, who turned up to fix a leaking pipe. (When he turned up, my back door was open and I was sitting at my dining table. With my head on it. That still counts as up.) Then I took a brief kindy nap at lunchtime, just for an hour. Fast forward to 4 p.m. when a hungry dog woke me. 

But on Tuesday afternoon I at least got my line edits done, and sent back to my co-author. And I started on my new WIP. Did some nice world-building there. And I went to bed at 11 p.m. That's reasonable, right? 

So I lay there a while, realised that the new WIP is just god-awful, and got up and switched on my computer to double check. Yep, god-awful. There is one paragraph I like. One, in the two thousand words of drivel that I wrote. But one is better than none, right? So I brainstormed for a while, watched an episode of Sherlock, wished I'd written that instead, and now what? 

Well, now it's 1.53 a.m. on Wednesday morning, I'm back at work on Thursday, and that whole sleeping pattern thing that I'd intended to sort out on my days off? Yeah... 

I think it's time to declare myself my own time zone.  


  1. I feel for your time-twisted days and hope you soon get back to the shift you like best.

    P.S. Is the one with the helicopter Air Wolf?

    And here's a little Calvin and Hobbes.

    1. I love Calvin and Hobbes!

      But that kid's got is easy. If I still lived with my mum she'd be badgering me into getting into bed at a reasonable time...but no, I'm an allegedly responsible adult who thinks getting up to watch TV at 3 a.m. will help me sleep...

      And yes, it was Air Wolf. I never saw it as a kid, so I don't like it much now. Although I was very excited to find that the original Battlestar Galactica is on at some ungodly hour. Is there a thing where you cringe and laugh at the same time? Because I had that.


  2. I used to work messed up shifts like that for a couple of years. 2 - 10 was my favorite, too. That worked with a human being's normal diurnal rhythms. But when I moved to the Sheriff's Dept. they had a new-fangled schedule all figured out. We worked twelve hour shifts, 7-7, four days a week. Then we got four days off. Every three months we switched from days to nights/nights to days. It was almost a normal life. What they have you doing is mental. Sounds like you're on the Guatanamo sleep deprivation torture schedule.

    1. Tell me about it! We pushed for 12 hour shifts a few years ago, but were told it was a fatigue issue. Seriously? And our current roster is just peachy, is it? Oh well. Caffeine is my drug of choice.

  3. Thank you for reminding me how hideous shift work is.

    Also, 5am should not be anyone's wake up time EVER.

    1. I know, right? But the 2-10 is shift is sweet! (And so are days off in the middle of the week -- so easy to get the grocery shopping done when you aren't lined up with 600 people all trying to do the same thing.)

  4. I don't know how you managed to survive through that. Did you do something bad? Is that why you have to have a crazy schedule like that?

    1. The best I can figure is it's something I did wrong in a previous life...sadly, it's just the way our roster is. It helps to imagine I've fallen into a Kafka-esque world where nothing makes sense. Or an episode of Yes, Minister.



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