The Graveyard Shift…How to Pull an All-nighter

Every health magazine out there says sleep is the backbone for your overall well being.  So, what happens when work forces you to pull an all-nighter?

I don’t mean staying awake to study, party with friends or to watch the sun rise.  I mean staying awake to help produce the morning show for a local T.V. station.

That’s where I found myself this summer. I didn’t imagine myself working in television, but one thing led to another that June after graduation and I agreed to a freelance contract.

The contract meant my hours would be sporadic- but hey, it beats unemployment.

The first time I filled in for the morning show’s associate producer I arrived at the station at 12:30 am in full spirits, ready to go with a large Hazelnut coffee from Dunkin Donuts.

I’m naturally a night owl, so the first two hours went smoothly. Then 3:30 am rolled around and I hit a wall. However, I did come prepared.

I find that as long as my mouth is chewing something, (think gum, fruit, gummy bears) I can keep my brain working fairly well and stay on task. It also helps to consistently drink fluids. I keep a water bottle filled with cold water on my desk at all times, along with either a Mountain Dew Amp or a Coke Zero.

That first overnight shift I stopped at Dunkin Donuts and 7-11 before my shift, and it saved my tush.

I’m not saying to OD on caffeine, but if you must stay alert and do your job well–sometimes it requires a little assistance from the 24 hour Dunkin gods.

The clock hits 6 a.m. and I’m excited because I want everyone else in the world to be awake already. I log onto Facebook and to my horror only 2 friends are online. Tear, tear.

I text my Mom who should be getting ready for work, or may have already left the house because she has a long commute. No response.

I text my Dad, knowing he’s usually up at 4:30 am for his job in construction.  No response.

The show runs from 5 am until 7 am, and then it’s my turn to take over and produce the cut-in segments until 9 a.m.

This is the hardest part. Not because I’m unqualified, but because sleep deprived me is loopy. Less sleep means more blonde moments.

I don’t remember finishing the last segment and driving home, but when I stepped in the door of my house something prevented me from going upstairs to bed.

I was starving! I made myself an omelette, checked my e-mail and surfed Twitter mindlessly.

I slept from noon until 6 p.m. and managed to get a drink with a friend around 8.  I felt hot and cold, like I was getting sick.

This was just the beginning.  Because I don’t have consist overnight shifts, my body never has a chance to adapt to the schedule.  However, I did make a few routine tweaks that helped make the shift more enjoyable for my sleepless body.

How to do it the right way:

BEFORE you go in at 12:30/1 a.m. early Monday morning, go out late with your friends the night before.  This way you’ll sleep until noon or maybe 1 p.m. if you’re really lucky.

Then go to the gym or run  outside.  Do something to exhaust your body physically. Around 4 p.m. pop an ALL NATURAL SUPPLEMENT called “melatonin”. It’s sold at most grocery and health stores.

I really like Melatonin chewable mint tablets. If this doesn’t work…take two and try drinking a cup of Chamomile hot tea.

Also- invest in an eye mask and possibly ear plugs if you’re in a house with loud roommates or have window shades that barely exist.

Working on the morning show has challenged me in a way no other job has.  It requires thinking on your toes when physically your body is screaming: “SLEEP!”.

It’s also enabled me to develop a close relationship with the guy at the front counter at Dunkin Donuts and the police officer who always gets Ben and Jerry’s on Falls Road.

Shout out. Thanks for the free glazed donuts and always making me smile. You kick off my night just right.

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