Agraphia Medical Tragicomedy

13Jul/095

The Dark Seedy Underbelly of Shift Work

It is 5:45 AM as I write this, the harsh glare of my laptop an unwelcome affront to my otherwise dark room.

I need to be at the ambulance depot in about 3 hours - tomorrow (today?) is my medic shift, where I ride along with the paramedics for 12 hours of sirens and speeding. Unfortunately, I've just finished a string of night shifts and my biological clock is set firmly to wake by night, sleep by day. I napped for an hour at midnight, but that's it.

I've touched on this in other posts. I really don't like the idea of pharmacologic sleep, but I suspect that tonight I should have popped a couple Benadryl. I just hate that I may end up doing that for the rest of my life.

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  1. That sounds rough. I’ve tried Melatonin with some success. It doesn’t knock me out, but it does make me sleepy.

  2. What always works for me is playing something boring, like solitaire, on my laptop, in bed with the lights out. It takes maybe 30 mins before I can’t keep my eyes open.

  3. You’ve just hit on why Emergency Medicine is a tough field to go into. I love being on night shift now…. but I wonder if I would still love it at age 50.

  4. I’ve been reading through your blog & I know this is an old entry, but I’m totally engrossed & can’t stop reading the damn thing.

    I’m a nurse (in Australia – paeds Emergency Dept) & I literally can’t get through changes in shifts without medication (I take seroquel; temazepam is addictive long term, phenergan doesn’t work anymore – seroquel – Quetiapine – works well although I started on a low dose & now I’m getting up to a dose that would treat psychosis which is concerning). Which freaks me out because I’m 22. But I literally don’t sleep & by the end of the shift I’m vomiting from fatigue & have such a bad headache that even moving my eyes hurts.

    If you’ve figured out how to sleep with shift work, let me know!

  5. Hi I do shift work 7 days of 12 hr days shifts followed by 12hr night shifts, i’ve tired valerian extract which helps you relax but doesn’t give you the knock out effect. try taking a very hot shower then followed by sleeping in a cold dark room even mediation apps on your iphone/ipad can work, but when there’s stuff on your mind i reckon temaze is the go but it’s addictive but knocks me off my socks and sleep great, another you can try is s high strength painkillers like mersyondol or phenergan. I’m 20 and i’ve been struggling with shiftwork for the past 7 months I believe some of us are never going to be coping with it


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