Tag Archives: sleep

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How am I supposed to write 150 words on being tired, when I’m completely exhausted? I’m tired. I’m so, so, so tired.

I work a very early weekend morning shift a local ABC/CNN affiliate in Scranton, Pa.

I’ve been working this shift for about five years and my body still hasn’t completely adjusted to getting up at 1:30 every weekend morning.

I live about 40 miles away from the station.

Not only does the job require mental focus and sharp attention to detail, but I need to be alert enough to make the commute in.

Knock on wood, I haven’t fallen asleep behind the wheel – yet. I thank Spotify for that.

There are long hours some days and schedule changes without much notice. Take for example last Thursday. I didn’t get home until midnight. I slept approximately three shitty hours. Rigby, our cat, jumped on me in the middle of the night.

My two tweenage children were slamming doors while getting ready for school. My husband was yelling at said children, finally a child shoved a paper in my face from the school nurse to be signed at 7 a.m.

OK people. I get it, I am awake. No use in trying to go back to sleep, because it won’t happen. My husband gets to comfortably sleep in until at least 10 a.m. every day.

He works from home and the people on his team are in the mountain time zone. Some days, he sleeps until noon. It infuriates me. I think the last time I had a decent night of sleep was in maybe 2002 or 2003, which were the years before I was pregnant with my first child.

I woke up every day and night with my children when they cried, had a dirty diaper, were sick or needed something. In a way, the lack of sleep during motherhood has trained me for my current role at the news station.

What are the effects of my exhaustion?

Off of the top of my head, my feet drag, my mind isn’t sharp, I’m short with people, I’m in a constant state of exhaustion, I lack motivation, my mind is soup.

It feels a lot like having the engine of a Ferrari inside the body of a Yugo. I want to do things, but I tire out so quickly. I bargain with my alarm clock every morning. I’ve tried taking sleeping pills, but they make me groggy and I’m terrified I’ll oversleep and miss my alarm.

Caffeine helps me get through most mornings, but I know it isn’t healthy for me. For the first few months of this schedule, I was slamming energy drinks. The result was that I was feeling lightheaded and my heart was racing. I felt like I was going to faint all of the time.

I went to see a specialist and they sent me through various rounds of tests. Nothing solid was ever diagnosed, but eventually I was put on beta blockers after I passed out during a tilt table test.

A few years later I was sent for a sleep study. Nothing of value was diagnosed there either, other than “you need to change your hours or find a new job.” Sure, I’ll get right on that.

I miss out on a lot of things in people’s lives. Birthday parties, holiday celebrations, etc. are normally held on weekends, and I am unable to go because either I’m asleep, or know that I’ll have to sleep soon.

I feel like I live on borrowed time most weeks. This is where the bargaining with the clock also begins.

“Well, maybe if I sleep in like 20 extra minutes, I can stop by this event for an hour and leave.”

I also get frustrated with people very easily. I’ve gotten into yelling matches with people for seemingly no reason or over something so insignificant and relationships have suffered.

It leaves me feeling terrible and guilty. I don’t mean to be a jerk to people, but they just don’t understand how crappy I’m feeling.

To learn more about Michelle,  check out her bio and her blog.

Work, Drive, Sleep, Rinse and Repeat

Based on my new work schedule, I now qualify to be two out of the Seven Dwarfs: Sleepy and Dopey.

The start of my work day recently shifted from 5 p.m. to 6:30 a.m.

For someone like me who is naturally a morning person, this was great but the change put sand in my gears – and felt like in my eyes as well.

I have always been an early riser, dating to when I was 13 and delivering The Daily News in the Bronx.

I was thrilled to get a jumpstart on the day and watch the city transition from slumber to wakefulness.

That all changed 2.5 years ago, when I started a job in New York City that required me to work nights.

Instead of getting to bed at 10:30 p.m., I was leaving the office by then or much later, like 12:30 a.m.

The whiplash meant resetting my natural body clock.

On the plus side, commuting home was easy because you could fire a cannon on the highway and not hit anything.

The downside was that in the mornings I would sleepuntil 10 a.m. (if I was successful at fighting the urge not to wake up earlier), and I would almost always feel like I was merely waiting to leave for work in the afternoon.

I felt too restless or time-constrained to get anything useful done.

I no sooner got (somewhat) adjusted to my late hours than my schedule shifted to a 6:30 a.m. start time.

So now instead of getting to bed at 3 a.m., I get up at that hour.

Doing that kind of yo-yoing with your sleep does weird things to your body.

For instance, I am ready to slam back a Red Bull by 9:30 in the morning and by 10:30, I am ready for lunch.

It is also weird that as noon draws near, and most people are getting ready for lunch, I am looking ahead to soon leaving.

It is great that I get to be home with my wife for dinner but now I get to bed around 8:30 p.m., my bedtime when my age was in the single digits!

At my age (closing in on 53), these kinds of adjustments do not come easily. I have as much capacity to bounce back as a deflated basketball.

I lose track of what day it is, time becomes a blur and focusing on details on the job requires even more concentration, which, you guessed it, makes me even more tired.

I need a steady flow of coffee to keep me from face-planting into my keyboard.

I know from friends who pull long days or shifts in the middle of the night the challenges of being sleep-deprived.

I appreciate the importance of sleep for your mental health, regulating blood sugar, rebooting your brain and other functions, but what can you do when this is what your job or life requires?

I’d like to hear your stories of a fractured sleep-work cycle and what happens to you when you get too little sleep. How do you cope? Any insights or remedies to offer?

Write me at amr@aboutmenshow.com.

While I await your emails, I have to wake up and inhale the coffee.

Related content:

Sleep-Deprived As a Way of Life

 

Sleep-Deprived As a Way of Life

Note: This week we will explore the issue of sleep  — or lack thereof. Why do we not get enough sleep and what toll is it taking on us? We’ll have three installments, starting today with Richard Rodriguez.

About nine months ago I changed jobs.

It was not for advancement or more money but for a shorter commute and better health insurance.

I also changed my work hours from a regular day shift to a 3-11 a.m. shift, which I actively sought.

I knew it would be a tough transition but the very early hours would help me to help with the kids and transportation needs in the afternoons and early evenings.

The old job was during day hours but the long commute kept me away from home for 12-plus hours a day, I felt useless to my family and it stripped me of all energy to do anything when I got home.

So I landed a position that cut my commute from two hours to about 45 minutes each way.

I just needed to transition to those new working hours. Staying up late was my thing. My brain was most active at night and after the kids went to bed, I would watch my TV shows, write, surf the net, etc.

I was still able to get enough sleep to go to work the following day. Now I have an early bedtime that I almost never comply with, which leads me being sleep-deprived for most of the week.

By the end of the week I am so exhausted I usually pass out on the couch trying to stay up.

I had one very scary instance caused by this sleep deprivation.

Driving home one Saturday afternoon I had stopped for a red light and then I opened my eyes and saw the car in front of me coming closer really fast. I could not fathom why this was happening but my reflexes kicked in and I pushed hard on the brakes and literally stopped inches from the car in front of me.

Holy shit that was close!

I could not believe that I had drifted off to sleep so quickly, but was lucky that it was for only a second and I was able to recover before smashing into the car in front of me.

I hope for this never to happen again.

I have since then kept caffeine pills in my car and use them when I don’t stop for coffee and feel like I’m overly tired. I do have to say that the cup of coffee typically is more effective than the pills.

So nine months in, I continue to stay up too late and feel like I can never get everything done.

I sometimes take a nap in the afternoon when I get home but need to be careful as sometimes it just makes you more tired.

Overall I like these hours. I enjoy commuting during the off hours and not dealing with any traffic whatsoever. I also like the time in the afternoons I have to deal with family responsibilities.

My workweek also shifted to Tuesday-Saturday with Sunday/Monday off.

I miss my freewheeling Friday nights but having Monday off makes Sundays so much more relaxing.

It is what it is. I just keep plugging along.

The Best Cure For Insomnia is Getting Lots of Sleep

“Lazarus has risen,” to quote my Dad when I finally awoke from slumber.

Chris and Pedro would often call my house when we were teenagers and get my Dad on the line. He would say that “Lazarus was still sleeping.”

Getting me up proved harder than some realized.

As a teen, my mom would often stand at the door and yell: “John! Wake up! You’ll be late for school!”

Years later, school changed to work. One of the main reasons why it was difficult to get me up was that while I was dreaming, I would incorporate the outside stimuli into my dream.

I’ve had several dreams of sanitation trucks and cement mixers backing up.

My Dad would call me and get no response. His work bench was in my room and he would be hammering and sawing and drilling and would tell me that I didn’t even move.

However, when he would put on easy listening on the radio with 30’s and 40’s music that actually got me up.

My brother Andrew would throw cold water in my face. This worked 50 percent of the time.

Once my brother Larry decided to clean out the closet and just dumped all the clothes on top of me. I woke up at about 5:30 p.m. and couldn’t move. It took a while to realize that all the clothes in the closet were on top of me.

My mom thought I was outside, playing.

Years later, my cat also tried getting me up.

One time my radio was going off at 6:30 a.m. I got up walked across the room and turned it off (having the radio across the room actually does help me get up).

Fifteen minutes later it went on again. Again I got up and turned it off.

On getting back into bed, my cat ran in, looked at me, meowed then jumped up and tapped the buttons on my alarm.

She was waking me up to feed her.

I was always a tense plane passenger, but realized if I broke night (stayed up 24 or more hours) that I could get on the plane, fall asleep and wake up at my destination.

This did prove useful a few times, but once while going to Puerto Rico, I awoke after two hours thinking that we were safely in the air only to find that we were still on the tarmac awaiting takeoff.

Yikes!

Pedro also saw me one evening at Yankee Stadium for a Yankees vs. Red Sox game.

The night before I was up 24 hours working and when I got to my bleachers seat, I just couldn’t help but take a little nap.

Pedro said that he fended off Boston fans who threw batteries at me during the game.

Am I glad that I didn’t get hit with a homer? Not sure how that would’ve been incorporated into a dream.