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I work 12 hour nights and try to keep them together. I flip to night mode and stay that way through my work week. Then when my "week" is done I stay up the last day and go to bed early in the evening sleep all night and get up like a normal person the next day. It has taken me years to figure out what works for my body and how to balance life with the rest of the world whenI live a backward schedule. Fortunately my husband is very understanding when I fall asleep at an odd time or in the car when he's driving. It's not a lifestyle I can keep up forever but I have done it for 12 years so far!
I try to stay up after I get home from work until about 1 or 2 pm. I also do the gym right after work because it's just across the parking lot and I wouldn't do it if I had to drive there. Then, when I get up, I get ready for work & go--kinda like "normal people." My shifts are 8 hrs, not 12. I like to work a bunch in a row and then have several nights off in a row. That one on, one off stuff is just a tease and not really like having time off at all.
In B.C. era (before children, ha) I used to keep night owl hours even on my nights off. I lived in New Orleans and my boyfriend and I would go to the quarter to all night diners or the all nigh newspaper/magazine store in Metaire next to Morning Call (coffee shop.) I would also frequent 24 hour Walmart.
Now I am switching to being up during daylight hours on my off days. I work three in a row.
As to eating, on work days I usually eat at 4pm ,10pm and might have something at 7am on the way home. Off days, I eat normally.
I think working nights for the past 20 years has been detrimental to my health.
Unless I have a full week off from work, or am going somewhere (like vacation or the lake)... I pretty much stay in "night mode". On my nights off, I come home & sleep a little less than normal during the day, and then stay up til somewhere b/t 3 & 5am.
If I am gonna switch to "normalcy" (whatever that is), I must stay up after working. Then I can typically go to bed b/t 10-11p that evening.
As for how long I sleep... I can sleep for 6-8 hrs during the day and feel very rested. However, if I'm sleeping at night, I need at least 10 hrs+ to feel like I actually slept.
I don't have a set schedule for eating... I pretty much eat when I get hungry... which often times leads me to realizing that I haven't ate but maybe one meal at the end of a busy day!
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Everyone has a different way of coping with working nights- How do you do it? When do you sleep and how much? Do you sleep more or less than when you are on a "normal" daytime schedule?
What about meals? Do you eat at regular times or just whenever you're hungry?