It’s ‘Stay up all night’ Night, tonight

May 10th, 2016 Sections: From an Expat
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The caption says it all …

One day last week we got a phone call at the hotel from one of the staff … who informed us that he was ill and wouldn’t be able to come in for his shift.

That gave us a bit of a problem.

He works in the reception, on the night shift … and we really need someone to man the reception desk, so we had to try and find a replacement.  Normally, that’s not a big issue because, (although not just anybody can fulfill this role), we do have a team of people we can call on to cover the gap … but on this occasion, zakon podlostiy came into play, (Murphy’s Law or Sod’s law,: if anything can go wrong – it will!), and nobody else was available.

There was only one thing for it … I was going to have to pull a night shift, myself.

It’s not the first time I have had to cover for someone … nor the first time that I have had to cover the night shift for reception.  This occasion was different, however, because we learned about it so late on and I wasn’t able to prepare for it … for example, to take the afternoon and sieze the opportunity to catch forty winks.

That’s part of the advice for anyone facing an all nighter: if at all possible, try to grab some shuteye beforehand.

Other tidbits include:

As the evening draws on try to keep your mind occupied … with work or TV, video games or whatever … try to keep calm and relaxed – but not too relaxed – and ‘stay away from the bed!’

It’s when people hit the witching hour, the midnight hour and into the early hours, when problems start to set in and people lose motivation and concentration … and start to doze off.

  • This is a time for yet more activity, perhaps listen to music, (but not soft ‘night music’ which may be soporific and act like a lullaby);
  • keep the lights on – if possible, turn them up instead of dampening them down because that helps to stimulate the production of melatonin in the body … which helps to keep one awake;
  • try washing the face, (I have head some interesting suggestions on this theme … but it seems that wetting the face, especially the eyelids, can help ward off drowsiness);
  • take drinks like coffee, or what the Americans call ‘cold sodas’, or maybe ‘energy drinks’, (although it is necessary to remember that, later on, most caffeinated drinks will lead to a ‘crash’, to becoming drowsy and tired);
  • and don’t forget to eat … although not all foods are helpful.

Above all, try to keep calm and relaxed – but not too relaxed – and ‘stay away from the bed!’

The most difficulties tend to arise as morning approaches …

  • Maybe it is time to take some exercise – perhaps to go for a walk and get some fresh air;
  • to change the activities undertaken, (the change will  give the brain something to work on rather than concentrating on felling tires), perhaps making some breakfast, or undertake something repetitive … and, of course, there are always the old standbys of listening to music and watching TV.
  • Nighttime temperature tend to fall, reaching their coldest point about an hour before sunrise, (so it is a good idea to have an extra layer or two of clothing to don), … and it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the temperature perhaps opening the window to get some of that cool fresh air – remembering to maintain an ambient temperature that is ‘not too warm and not too cold’.

Just try to keep calm and relaxed – but not too relaxed – and ‘stay away from the bed!’.

Perhaps the hardest task, however, is still to come come – coping with the following day.  … and don’t try to run two all-nighters back to back, on consecutive days.

 

Now, some people stay up all night for fun … going to a party, attending an event like ‘a night in the museum’, perhaps to catch up on events happening in a different time zone elsewhere in the world, (like the Olympics or World Cup), going to watch the sunrise on Midsummers’ Day, or whatever …

Others, however, have to work overnight.  It’s estimated that something like 26% of Americans could be classified as ‘night workers’ … although, as usual, the veracity of that statistic needs some investigation.

There has been some investigation into what happens to our bodies when we stay up all night … discovering, for example, some changes in brain activity and sleeplessness has, apparently, been shown to interfere with our genes as well as our brains, and researchers in Sweden found that just one night without a doze could alter our body’s cellular biological clocks.  Sleep deprivation can also affect people’s moods, concentration, intellectual abilities as well as their bodies.

It’s not clear, however, to what extent these changes are short term or if they have any permanent effect …could a long sleep the next night, for example, repair all the ‘damage’ that’s been incurred?

However, not everyone, is affected in the same way … there are considerable individual difference … and research in Australia suggests that, somewhat surprisingly, people who might be considered as ‘night owls’ actually have a harder time coping with the effects of an occasional all-nighter than others.

 

Of course, this all begs the question of how night workers adapt and cope with working these ‘unsocial’ hours.

It’s not just hotel receptionists working the night shift … there’s the security guards … or those working in kruglosutochiyo (round the clock, 24 hour), establishments, or those whose jobs are influenced by the ‘global village’, having to keep up with developments half a world away.

It was created with the intention of trying to bring attention to the issues involved with sleep deprivation and such shift work … from sleep disturbances to obesity, from fatigue to depression, and from cardiovascular disease to fertility problems … especially when there are additional pressures such as the long hours worked by people such as Hospital Doctors.

As it happens: tomorrow is the Second Wednesday in May … which, appropriately, is also Third Shift Workers’ Day – a day set aside to remember and celebrate those who work the ‘night shift’ … keeping the world turning and preparing things for the next day, so that everything happens smoothly … .

 

Food for thought!

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