So, you thought #teamnightshift were tough, but how about those hybrid half evening/half night shift runs, a.k.a twilight or late shifts. They start off with the promise of free day time hours; to catch up on admin, go to the post office, gym etc before heading in for your shift at 4pm. Once home you know you can have a lie in, therefore it’s okay to stay up till past 2am catching up on your boxset etc…How bad can a week of these be?
Answer: Really bad. Trust me, by Friday morning before your last shift you’ll feel like you’ve been hit by a bus; late shift psychosis has already set in without you realising and you’ve considered all the alternative career options you have left. These shifts are a killer.
If your rota has one of these shift patterns, be prepared. Here are our top 5 tips for survival:
1)A minimum of 8 hours of sleep is essential. Ideally, go straight to bed when you get home or max. of 30mins wind down time but whatever time you head to the land of ZZZs – set your alarm for 8 hours later no earlier. The sleep deficit you accumulate during this week is bad. Real bad
2) Do something productive and non-work related in the daytime hours – exercise class, coffee shop, run one or two errands – these shifts are socially isolating and you need to feel part of general civilisation even briefly. Be mindful to not plan too much stuff as you end up tired before you even start your shift.
3) Eat a little later. Breakfast time is more like brunch time, Lunch time is more like Afternoon tea time and Dinner time is well…still dinner time but a couple of hours later than planned. Always take a dinner break at work; if you don’t you’ll come home tired and hungry, spend time making & eating when you should be sleeping (please refer to point no.
4) Be prepared for the mental challenge. These shifts are known to break even the kindest and hardest working trainees. Perhaps some yoga or mindfulness.
5) Drink plenty of water. Before. During. & After.
Oh, and Good Luck.