I’ve mentioned that I work the 11pm to 7am shift.  I am a nurse on a psychiatric unit at a local hospital.  I actually choose to work this shift for a few reasons.  I have always been a mild insomniac.  I could stay up for long hours with little effect on my health or energy level.  Oddly enough I make more money working the night shift.  The shift allows me to be home to take care of my son.  Unfortunately we could not afford for me to be a stay at home mom so this is the next best option for us.

I work full time but only 32 hours.  I am able to work under 40 hours because I participate in the hospital’s wages without benefits program.  Since I do not subscribe to the hospital health insurance plan I make 20% more base pay on top of my night shift and weekend differential pay.  There is one caveat to this program and it is that I do not get paid time off.  I accrue vacation and sick time but if I choose to take it I do not get paid.  This is not a problem because I don’t take much time off and when I do it is well planned out in advance.  I haven’t called out sick since April of 2007 (knocking on wood right now!).

When people find out that I work nights the first thing they ask is, “well when do you sleep.”  I call this the million dollar question.

First I will tell you that my husband does work during the day but since he is in construction he starts at 7am.  However, he works an hour or more away from home.  We have a babysitter who comes to our house three mornings a week when my husband leaves for work (anywhere from 5:30 to 6 am) until I get home at 7:10.  I work only five minutes away from home which is wonderful.

There are three basic sleep scenarios.  One is if I am working back to back weeknights.  This only happens twice a week.  I go to bed as soon as my husband gets home and showers.  I am in bed on these days no later than 5:15 pm and I sleep until 10:30 pm.  On my back to back days I am usually successful at getting Carlos to take a nap and I do take advantage of the opportunity to catch a quick nap if I am feeling really tired.  However, this can backfire and make sleep more difficult when my husband gets home.

Scenario two is when I have worked all night but have the next night off.  Example: I go into work on Monday night, get home Tuesday morning and have Tuesday night off.  I stay up all day and go to bed at a regular time.  Regular is usually early to most people and can range from 7pm after I put Carlos to sleep to 9 or 10 pm.

I work every other weekend.  Since my husband is home on the weekend my sleep schedule is largely up to me.  I tend to revolve it around any plans we have.  I generally go straight to the gym after work on the weekends.  I then prefer to come home and stay up until about 3 or 4pm.  I then go to bed and sleep straight until 10pm.

I do not hesitate to ask for help from my mother or sister if I am feeling sleep deprived or on the verge of getting sick.  I know my body.  I am not a martyr when it comes to sleep.  I am very vocal if I feel that I need more sleep.

With that said today was not a great sleep.  We are going to my aunt’s at 6 tonight for my mother’s birthday dinner.  I worked last night, went to the gym this morning until about 9, came home and had breakfast.  I played a quick game of Bingo with the little guy before heading up to bed around 10:30.  I just couldn’t fall asleep and then kept waking with some tummy trouble.  Too many beans and greens lately!  It is now around 4 and I have had a chopped up almost 5 hours of sleep.  I will take a nap before work tonight and tomorrow I will likely include extra rest time.

Do I look tired?

Just joking!  This is an old photo.  I almost never look like this.  OK who am I kidding.  Off to shower…

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