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Adventures in Sleep

Make Sleep a Priority

Published February 14, 2013 10:06 AM by Penny Mehaffey

Weary am I.  "And why is that?" you may ask.

Well, my elation over the hiring of new staff was short-lived by the realization that I would need to go to night shift to complete the training and orientation process. I haven't worked nights in 3 or 4 years, since I became the day tech, and man-oh-man are they kicking my butt. 

I have no problem staying awake or keeping up with the workload, but my body is in a state of revolt. It is not cooperating with me at all. My feet hurt, my stomach is upset and my eyes don't want to stay open. I can't sleep. That is to say I sleep fine at night and after a night shift, but I wake up no later than 08:00 and then I'm unable to fall asleep when I need to take a nap. I'm walking around squinting like a possum and my inner man's attitude is not much better. There's a name for what I am experiencing and no, it's not torture as much as it feels that way. What is that name?  Oh yes, shift work syndrome.  Did I mention that I'm having memory issues too?    

There's nothing like an instant dose of night shift to jerk you back and remind you of what our patients are going through on a daily basis. The good news is that my tour on nights will be over at the end of the  month. The bad news is that it will take me that long to get re-acclimated and then I'll have to regroup.

It's a short lived inconvenience for me. But for many it's the norm. Lack of sleep is accepted as a necessary evil, even among those who know better. Between work and responsibilities at home, burning the candle at both ends -- and the middle -- is all in day's work. We have to work and we have to get kids to school and do homework and take grandma to the doctor and stop by the store and pick kids up from school and do homework and fix dinner and then go to work again and again and again and......  I have one friend who always jokes that he will sleep when he's dead. Scary thought. And it's not as though we are out gagging the lollies when we should be sleeping. These are important things we have to do. But where does it stop? It has to stop at some point because as I am sure you all know, that sleep bill will come due eventually and when we are least prepared to deal with it.  

So do what we must, but try to get sleep nearer to the top of that list. Turn the phones off and put in the ear plugs. Turn the TV off an hour earlier and just stop.  Put yourself in a timeout and go to bed.

posted by Penny Mehaffey
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About this Blog


    Adventures in Sleep
    Occupation: Sleep technicians
    Setting: Various sleep facilities
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