I know I sound silly and slightly crazy, but I really think I’m allergic to the overnight shift. It starts just like any other allergic response minus the hives, rash (really glad I don’t get a rash) and difficulty breathing. I get dry eyes, congestion, and sneeze a lot. I start to rub my eyes and they become red and irritated. My sinuses feel like they’re going to explode. I feel terrible!It usually starts towards the end of the shift and lasts until the next day.
One time I could say it happened because of a rabbit, but rabbits don’t come to DoveLewis often, and I’ve been congested these last few overnights… with no rabbits in sight. Sometimes I think I’m getting sick, but then I don’t get sick. Then I start feeling better the moment I stop working overnights.
I am totally allergic to the overnight shifts!
There are a lot of tips out there for people working consistent overnights shifts. Changing your sleep/wake schedule (plus driving home with sunglasses and then sleeping in a dark room) can fool your body into adjusting to overnights. Those of us who work occasional overnight shifts are sometimes the hardest hit by physical effects.
Luckily there are some quick and easy fixes if you’re looking to prepare for a single overnight shift. Melatonin (a dietary supplement) can help improve your sleep. Your doctor can tell you how much and when to take this before a night shift. Another medication, modafinil can help you stay more alert at work. Caffeine can do this too, just make sure to enjoy it at the beginning of your shift…. or else sleep will become even more difficult!
This whole weird allergic experience has made me realize how difficult and physically demanding working an overnight shift is on your body, mind, and soul. I have so much appreciation and admiration for the techs, DVMs, tech assistants, and CSRs (Client Service Representatives) I work with. But for anyone who works an overnight or graveyard shift, EXTRA props to you!
Now I’m going to go take some Benadryl, because I have an overnight shift coming up.