You probably remember last year when we talked about leaving my longtime job at KACU and I took on my first full-time job as morning producer at KTXS. Now, let me make one thing clear, I’m happy with my job. A lot. Becoming nocturnal, on the other hand, will be the subject of this post.
I didn’t think it would be too difficult, and for the first few months it wasn’t. I embraced the night. It’s so amazing the amount of things you can get accomplished (among them, NaNoWriMo) when the rest of the world is asleep and not bothering you.
But that’s a double edged sword. I’m an introvert with occasional extroverted episodes, but not too long after 2014 began, I started wanting to get involved with people again. I was making new friends, some at work and some off the clock, who were daysiders. This meant any plans I made with them would be during the daylight hours a lot of the time. Readjusting to said daytime plans is also a bit of a double edged sword. It’s easy to stay up past my bedtime in the day. Though lack of sleep tends to hit me like a mack truck and rob me of my strength. When it gets dark, I’m as good as out.
See, we humans have a circadian rhythm. It’s what tells you, through the use of chemicals like melatonin, when it’s time to be awake and when it’s time to sleep. Us night shift workers tell that circadian rhythm to fuck off. I can’t speak for all of us, but mine can only be ignored for so long.
This is why getting to sleep is a challenge in the daytime, even if you’re exhausted. I find I have “ride a wave” to sleep. It’s the point where the thoughts in my head start seeming stranger and more abstract. I have to follow those thoughts until I go under — unconscious Then, I have to be careful not come back up until I’ve gotten the sleep I need, otherwise it’s even harder to go back. The sun is out, pouring through the blinds into my room, and people are going about their wonderful, loud, booming business.
Then, there’s waking up. It’s really hard to get moving at the start of my “day” when the rest of the world is quiet and pitch black. Couple this with the fact that I live in Abilene, TX, a town with a very early bedtime (our bars close at 1am… on a late night) and I don’t get any noise or bright lights to help.
I also find I’m getting headaches more often. Sometimes severe migranes. There are some days I feel horrible and can barely move from my bed. I can’t say for certain my nocturnal lifestyle is to blame for this yet, but the novelty of said lifestyle has worn off.
How long will I keep this up, you ask? As long as I have to. Many journos or media moguls have to go through a job or two with these odd hours. It’s a trial; one I hope I’m winning.
Anyhoo, I better start heading to sleep. It’s a good sign when I’ve already missed my mouth with this cup of coffee and spilled some of it on my nice polo shirt. This is the beginning of that wave I was talking about before.
That’s the other fun thing I’ve learned. Coffee and espresso don’t keep me awake. It mellows me out, calms me down, and helps me unwind to sleep. Crazy, isn’t it?
Last-minute realization: Perhaps it’s tied to the seasons? It was easier to get started on this night shift since it was fall. The days were getting shorter, and colder; not as bright and as warm. Therefore, it’s easier for me to sleep, and reenergize for the night. If that’s the case, then it’s about to get much easier, at least for the next few months.