What’s it like being a Vampire, you ask.
I’d made several references to this term in some of my past posts and I’m going to try to properly describe my peculiar lifestyle.
It started approximately 15 years ago when I started working the Midnight Shift, Graveyard Shift, or the Vampire Shift as some call it.
It didn’t take long for me to get used to because I loved being up at night (early morning) and sleeping during the day. I was never a morning person, even though I worked on a job which required me to work a standard nine to five. It was pure torture for the fifteen years I did it.
I had to commute to work via the New York City subways and and let me tell you back then (in the late eighties to mid nineties) it was a “beast” every morning. I can’t even imagine what it is like now……. All I recall was the fact that my commute was always crowded and late……
However, When I transferred from one New York City agency (which was a strictly 9-5 agency) to another (which operates 24/7/365) where they had three rotating shifts (12×8, 8×4, 4X12) and where there is no such things as weekends or holidays off. I had to make a total lifestyle adjustment.
My entire lifestyle is opposite my fellow “Dawn Treaders” or “Day Walkers”. While everyone is rushing to work, I’m going home. I’m like a salmon swimming downstream while everyone else is swimming upstream.
I’ve found that in order to be an effective Vampire, I must maintain strict discipline in my life. First of all, I must get the proper rest. Many people don’t realize that as a Midnight Shift Worker they can easily fall into the trap of not sleeping. Many go home too wired to sleep and stay up all day. As a consequence, they go to work the following night, sleepless. A continued cycle of this will eventually lead to “insomnia”.
But, how does one sleep when the body clearly tells you to stay awake? Human beings are hardwired to be Day Walkers and sleep at night. Not the other way around. So if you are a shift worker, you have to fool your body.
My old supervisor gave me excellent advise when I first started working the night shift. She told me told me to turn my bedroom into a “dark room”. Pull the shades or blinds down, put up dark curtains at the windows to keep out the sunlight. Another suggestion from another co-worker was for me to work out before I go to sleep. The action of working out, coming home, taking a shower, getting dressed for bed, tells the body it’s time to shut down and go to sleep now. And last but not least, so that you are not disturbed by daytime noises (traffic, construction, drilling, etc) either purchase a “white noise machine” or play the radio softly.
If all else fails, I have a little extra ammunition in the form of an all natural product I buy from “The Vitamin Shoppe” named “Snooze Right”. I take two capsules an hour before I’m ready to sleep and it relaxes me so I can sleep. It’s totally non habit forming and contains Meletonin which helps the body relax and sleep.
I am also diligent in getting in my workout. It not only clears my mind and relaxes me, but it also provides the sunlight that I must have on a daily basis. Working at night has a tendency to keep us Vampires inside all day like the fictional characters. Not because we would go poof, but this is when we sleep.
However medical studies have found that “shift workers” had the highest risk of cancer. Why, because they are not exposed to sunlight which deprives the body of naturally producing Vitamin D. So I try to get in at least an hour or two per day.
Please refer to the following link to read further medical information on the subject:
Vitamin D From Sunlight
This may sound strange, but, I also had to be a “junkyard” dog and protect my territory! Why? I had friends who are “Day Walkers” and didn’t understand the fact that since I worked nights and therefore had to sleep during the day. So they would call and wake me up with frivolous things when I was trying to get serious winks.
My first step was to remind them that I worked nights. My second step was to turn the sound off on my phone so I wouldn’t hear it ring. I’m the type of person, if I’m startled out of my sleep by the phone ringing, I can’t go back to sleep for the next three hours or so.
So, if they had a really important call, they had the option to leave a message. Some were highly offended I didn’t get back to them until after Zero Dark Hundred (12 midnight), but that’s how I roll.
In dealing with businesses, I had to do the same thing. I made sure I informed them (doctors, banks, government agencies, etc.) upfront that I worked midnights so certain appointments be impossible to keep. Either they had to make them early in the morning, or on my days off, Wednesdays or Thursdays. They would have to work around my schedule, not the other way around.
Last but not least, I also have to vigilant in my eating and the things I consume. Since I was working odd hours I had slid into the habit of “grabbing stuff”. Grabbing stuff as in Chinese food, McDonalds, pizza, etc. It was not very encouraging when one’s co-workers eats that trash and always has extra to offer.
The way to defeat that was to carefully plan my meals and prepare them myself. So nine times out of ten, I’m shleping (“carrying” in Yiddish) my own food and snacks to work. I’ve become much more vigilant now that I’m in my mid 50s and must watch my salt and sugar content. With both parents who had diabetis and high blood pressure, one must be vigilant in that area.
Thus is the life of a Vampire…….