notsleptwellI’ve been a night person since high school. Maybe even before. With only a couple of exceptions, I’ve avoided jobs where I had to be at work early in the day.

For a short time, less than a year I think, I worked for an agricultural survey company, and had to be at work at 6am in the summer, and 7am in the winter. That was not enjoyable. I even turned down an offer to promote up to a foreman’s position, simply because I really disliked early hours.

For the past 23 years and 3 months, I’ve worked as a night shift 9-1-1 dispatcher. I long ago reached a seniority level that lets me pick where I want to be, and ever since then, my choice has been nights. In my jobs prior to dispatching, I almost always worked nights. When I started this job, in 1994, I had three months of training. It was day shift. I lost 15 pounds. (I weighed about 150 when I first started. I didn’t have 15 pounds to spare!) When training was done, I was assigned to night shift, which didn’t bother me at all. Working weekends did, but that was tolerable. I never looked back, and never went to day shift, even when I worked my way up the seniority list and it became possible. (I’ve also put on almost 25 pounds in those 23 years. A pound a year… not bad.)

Now, all of a sudden, I’m on day shift.

I’m not a happy camper.

Seems someone decided we needed to go from four – ten hour shifts, to twelve hour shifts with a complicated pattern to insure we only have eighty hours in two weeks. To avoid being paid overtime, you see. (That’s why my pay period ends in the middle of one of my shifts. So at the end of eighty hours, the pay period starts over. My thoughts about this would probably get me written up, so I’ll just leave it to the gentle reader’s imagination.)

Now, I work the following nonsense: Monday, 7 am to 7 pm. Tuesday, 9 am to 7 pm. Wednesday 7 am to 7 pm. Every other Thursday 7 am to 7 pm. In three months, I’ll go to the same pattern, but at the other end of the week, so I’ll have Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and every other Thursday off. Then in three more months, I’ll go to 7 pm to 7 am on the first pattern, working nights. Then three months later, the opposite night shift.

This, we were told, will improve morale. And reduce overtime. I don’t buy either explanation. We’ll see how the OT works out, but I can tell you *MY* morale is not improved.

I’m dead tired. I can barely sleep, and what sleep I do get does not seem to leave me ready to start my shift. We’re barely two weeks into trying to change a 30+ year pattern, and it’s not working. The melatonin my doctor suggested doesn’t seem to do much (yet – he said give it 30 days. I’m thinking that would just be me getting used to the change, but what do I know? He’s the doctor. But not *THAT* Doctor!) There’s a side effect of melatonin… “intense” dreams. Mine have just been weird, but not particularly intense.


I’ve been trying to get to bed by 10 pm each night. That just seems completely nuts, but to rise at 6 am, I need time to fall asleep. I have never done that quickly, unless I’m just completely exhausted. I’ve been fighting to stay awake at work, but when I get home and get into bed, sleep doesn’t come. Or when it does, finally, it’s not deep or restful. The first few nights I just layed awake in bed until about 30 minutes before my alarm was due to go off. That’s the normal time I usually go to sleep. My body doesn’t want to change after so many decades.

I’m not used to feeling run down and sleepy at work. I’m worried my concentration is going to flag at a critical moment, and I’ll miss something. I’m not used to coming home and being exhausted. I’m hoping this will pass, and I’ll get used to the new shift, but so far no cigar. Not even a Tiparillo.

So far, I’ve resisted increasing my caffeine intake, but I may have to go back to always having a Pepsi at hand.

Oh, and did I mention…  I don’t like day shift.