The Joys of the Night Shift


I would like to preface this post by saying this is NOT a rant.  It’s actually just a collection of thoughts about my work schedule in regards to personal health.  I have been working shift work since 2000.  My current schedule changes every 6 weeks year round and I spend about half the year working evenings or overnights… if I am lucky.  My schedule can vary greatly depending on how many people we have employed at any given time.  I was just switched back to nights six weeks early than previously planned.

In general, I do not mind nights.  I actually love them in the summer due to the heat.  I wear a 20 lb. duty belt, heavy vest, pants and shirt year round even when it’s 95 degrees and humid.  That being said, I hate the heat when it comes to my job and I prefer to work at night for that very reason.  Despite the benefits of working nights, here are a few things I struggle with:

1) Sore back:  generally induced by lack of sleep in my situation.  My body requires a minimum eight hours of sleep to be sharp and refreshed both mentally and physically.  If I don’t get enough sleep, I get a very sore back and I feel groggy.

2) Weight gain: usually 2-5 pounds, no matter how clean my diet is.  Research would tell you cortisol levels go up when you go against your circadian rhythm and stay awake all night leading to many things including weight gain.  As soon as I switch off nights, I drop the weight I gained.

3) Woozy feeling post-shift:  once 6am hits and my shift is over, I start my drive home.  About half way there, I get groggy.  I have attempted to run before going home, but I get light-headed.  I usually need to get right to bed and sleep until mid afternoon to feel “right” again.

4) Lack of motivation: unlike a day shift or an evening shift when the alarm goes off at a reasonable hour, mine goes off at 3:00pm.  It takes much longer to get going and feel normal.  Sometimes (like tonight) I run out of time to work out before work because my body is just screaming NO!!!!

5) Fatigue:  My running suffers when I don’t get enough sleep.  I actually find I cannot catch my breath or last nearly as long as I would be able to under normal conditions.  I fight harder for every mile.

I will hit mids again for the summer (mid June) so I am hoping to have a strong mileage base before that happens!  I managed to stay in training all last summer and intend on doing the same now, even if it means 8:00pm runs.

I had a great run on Friday afternoon.  I did 4.5 miles on the snowmobile trails and continued to explore a new area.  I then worked that night (10pm-6am) and went home to bed.  I woke up with a very sore lower back and sore knees.  Par for the course unfortunately.  I actually had to take some ibuprofen to make it reasonable.  I wanted to desperately to run, but had to listen to my body and just stretch.  Today is Day 2/3 and I will not have time to run before my 5:00pm shift.  I am going to pack a bag in case I am in the mood to run at 1:00am.  I plan to run Monday (Day 4), as well as Tuesday and Wednesday.  I also plan on going to BodyPump this week too.

On a related note, I love my Sharper Image sound machine/alarm clock.  I have been listening to a summer night track.  It’s crickets… so soothing!  I also tried the Hammer Nutrition Rem Caps today and slept solidly for about 6 hours.  It takes a few weeks to get into the “groove” but these things should help!


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kindergeburtstag in Mannheim feiern- das kreative
    Apr 18, 2013 @ 04:26:50

    Wow that was strange. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after
    I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m
    not writing all that over again. Anyway, just wanted to say
    great blog!


  2. Erik
    May 09, 2013 @ 10:56:50

    Very nice post. I simply stumbled upon your weblog
    and wished to say that I’ve truly enjoyed browsing your blog posts. After all I will be subscribing for your rss feed and I am hoping you write again soon!


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