working nights

I’ve been working nights for nearly 4 months now and I can say with slight sarcasm in my voice that it is killing me slowly. I’ve never worked nights before, nor have I worked 12 hour shifts and I am certain the combo of the two makes the last 3 hours absolute torture. I’m sure this is true for day shift, but at least they get to sleep during the night like humans are supposed to.

I usually work 3 nights in a row. Night one is usually the hardest. I try to stay up late the night before, go to bed for a few hours, play with the kids in the morning and I’m usually crawling for my pillow by noon. I sleep til 5, get ready for my night, eat, nurse Evelyn, and making sure I’m not forgetting anything. I have to leave my house by 615 to get to work on time. Depending on the unit and my assignment, most nights start off with a bang for the first 2-4 hours, running around stocking, helping nurses and winding down the patients for night time. Unless of course I’m sitting with a one on one (24 hour supervision). Those nights are either smooth with sleepy patients who are just fall or wondering risks, or they are rough with detoxing, hallucinating, aggressive patients. Since I’m on the support team, I float between two hospitals in, technically, 6 different units though I typically stick to 3-4 of those units most of the time.

Anyway, by midnight I am starving and ready to hit up the caf for some coffee, eggs and bacon. The next 5 hours are usually fine, sometimes I get a little draggy and need another cup of coffee but by 4/5am I am DEAD tired. I can feel my body literally shutting down. I can feel how confused it is that I’m even upright and eating. My stomach is an absolute wreck (night gut) no matter what or how much I eat. My eyes are burning and my head feels heavy. Heavy like I’m tipsy or something. My body does not like working backwards.

My drive is usually 30 minutes and I’m blaring music, talking to my husband and drinking cold water to stay awake. By the time I get home, I’m ready to nurse Evelyn, eat breakfast and head to bed. I usually try to snuggle with Logan before I kick everyone out of the room. I hate saying goodnight to my babies who just woke up. They are both the absolute sweetest in the mornings.

Sleeping is terrible. I don’t have black out curtains, but I do use white noise and a face mask. It’s dark enough, but not super dark. My stomach usually wakes me up, both hungry and crampy from being off schedule. I usually drift in an out of sleep for the next few hours til I wake up around 5 again.

And repeat. Night 2 is usually not as bad and night 3 is hit or miss depending on how good my sleep is the day before. After my 3rd night, I have to switch back so I try to only sleep til 1 or 2 in the afternoon and then I’m an absolute bear to be around. I’m tired and cranky. All I can do is lay on the couch with the kids, which is really hard to do when the weather is so nice. I’m trying to make more plans because having plans to be out makes it easier to stay awake but by the time we get back home I am beat.

All this to say…I’m hoping for a day shift soon. AND, I know babies come at night. I can handle being on call someday when its part of a rotation. But every week? Ugh….no thank you. BUT. The job is amazing. I really love it. I love the nurses and the people I meet. I love what I’m doing and I belong here. Working nights is worth it.

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