Well, I survived.
The funny thing about a nightshift is that it’s not a self-contained thing. The leadin involved you napping, taking it easy, making sure you conserve energy and plan what you’re doing. And the day after has been a haze of sleeping, tea and carbs. A quick run was cut short after a strained ankle, almost certainly due to lazy pickup as I ran around.
It’s also been a day of extremely varied emotions. I had read that the rate of relationship breakdowns for firefighters, paramedics and those in the armed forces was three times the national average for divorce – which is already over 1 in 3 marriages. This is not to say that the Lovely One and I had a row – but it was terrifying how short my fuse was. From around 4 in the morning, I found myself reacting to things in a very basic way. By the time the Lovely One returned, I was operating on a basic like/dislike level. I cried when I burned my morning toast, and nearly shattered a cup against the wall when I split milk on the side. I couldn’t imagine having to operate in that way for days on end, with a family, or kids, or other people around you who need you to be *on point*.
I’ve also felt horrendously bloated. The monotony of late-night existence and the struggle to keep awake means that you crave sugar, caffeine and all sorts of nasties. My sleep was also ragged at best – there’s a reason we’re diurnal creatures, after all. I got through to the afternoon without a crash but I’m flagging now.
I’ll do a separate post on what I’ve learned, but I have to say that the realisation of quite how staggeringly hard a nightshift is for a human to bear was a real eye-opener. Quite aside from the fact that I had the opportunity to sit and have a rest from time to time, I found it hard to concentrate, got jittery and strange around 4am, and don’t think that I would have been safe to operate a pushbike, let alone a car.
Lesson? Well, it’s clear that a nightshift isn’t just about the night you do it…