I am in the process of compiling an extraordinarily long list of things I will do when I get home. Most of them involving stuffing my face at my favourite restaurants, but the number one priority at the top of my list is sleep my life away. I absolutely cannot wait to lie down in a bed that does not hurt my back, in a cool dark room with no one else in it. I can’t wait for the dead silence to acknowledge there is no one else there. No more door slamming or irritating music or people yakking on the phone all night long. It will be amazing. It will be like heaven.
This deployment has caused the worst sleeplessness I have experienced in years. I have always been a horrific sleeper. I have never been a person to get in bed at 10PM and sleep blissfully until the sun rises the next morning. As far as I am aware, that only happens in movies and for everyone else in the universe–except me. And it isn’t for lack of trying, I just gave up on trying to sleep normally a long time ago. It’s worked for me, but it’s difficult to make it work here because there is always something to remind me that my time–not even sleepy time–is my own.
That is the shitty part of living like this: you’re always accessible. No one respects your space or your time, because everyone assumes you do not have anything better to do but to be available to them whenever. It is not enough that you are lying in bed with the covers pulled over your head. If someone comes knocking, you have to get up and see what it is, even though it is not important and could have waited until the next day at work. People don’t think, but when you show you’re exasperated and annoyed, you’re the one with the problem.
So, right now it is 553AM and I have been awake since 26 hours ago. I’m supposed to be “awake” in 40 minutes to go to class. I was actually trying to get some good sleep last night but someone woke up me up to tell me something dumb and I ended up never being able to fall asleep again. I was at that fine line between being awake and being asleep, but not quite there. For the rest of the night, it was just annoying music and excessively loud talking and a hair dryer. I think I have spent more time trying to go to sleep than actually sleeping. I have had many nights where I kind of asleep, but not really. My eyes are closed and my body is shut down but my brain is still going and when I “woke up” I found that I wasn’t really asleep because I was still tired like the day before. If you do not dream when you are asleep, then you aren’t really asleep. Not dreaming is not the same as not remembering your dreams. Most people know they dreamed, they just can’t remember. Many times, I do not dream. I just lay there in this fake kind of sleep.
I was lucky enough to get on a night shift, but it doesn’t appear to make much difference. Most people have the idea that night shift working substitutes for sleeping and that we do not require the same amount of sleep or the same comfort of sleep as everyone else. There is still the matter of guard duty, formations and everything else that has to be conducted during daylight hours. Then there’s the stupid perception people have of night shift workers and day time sleeping.
For whatever insane reason, people think that night shift workers should not have the same opportunity to unwind before going to bed, as if we can just magically fall asleep the minute we get off work. This is probably the most idiotic thing I have ever heard. More than one person has said this to me and I want to reply, “Do you just get in bed the minute you get off work?” When regular people get off work at 5 in the evening, do they routinely get in bed until the next day when they have to get up and go to work again? No, they don’t. So why should it be any different for me? Most people, when they get off work, they eat dinner, they might work out, they hang out with friends and family, read a book, watch TV, whatever. The point is, unless they are ill or extraordinarily tired, most people do not get right into bed after getting off work. But since I work at night, I am supposed to go directly to bed after work and if I stay up (because it’s perfectly normal to do so) then “that’s on me.”
Actually, if you applied any common sense, you would know that going to bed directly after work is the WRONG way to have a successful night shift. If you go to sleep right after work, on those days where you’re a little bit tired or feeling rundown, you start falling asleep at work, and for people who have a long drive afterward, that is when they usually fall asleep on the road. But I can’t imagine day people would think of that because night time is for sleeping, in their limited view.
Another idiotic concept is that people who work night shift don’t need darkness or quiet to sleep. Because we sleep during the day this means that we should just deal with the lights being on and the noise of “daylight” people. One person told me, “I don’t see why we have to keep the lights off just because the night shift people are asleep. I mean, they turn the lights off at night when people are still awake, so what is the difference?” You have no idea how I wanted to punch this person in the face. So when I get off work at midnight and come in around 1230, I will turn the lights on so I can get ready for bed and not have to “stumble around in the dark” (as they put it). Even though most everyone is asleep by the time I return, what is the difference? I don’t see why the lights need to be off just because day shift is sleeping. And moreover, why do I need to be quiet? Why can’t I turn my music on just because it’s 2AM?
My sleep issues don’t really have anything to do with being on the night shift; actually, working nights has helped me to get better sleep because I discovered a long time ago that a standard night time bed time did not work for me. I sleep better during the day, it’s just that around here, everyone is so inconsiderate and shitty that I can’t get any sleep in the day. Once something (or someone) wakes me up, I can’t get back to sleep. If it’s one of those occasions where I have to be awake during the day (like this week) it’s just something I deal with. I have gotten used to being awake 50+ hours. Ever wonder why I am so bitchy all the time? It is because I don’t sleep. Where do you think I get the time to blog? In fact, that is why I started a blog. During the 8 hours people are supposed to be asleep at night, I would just lay awake. With nothing else to do, I started writing. Maybe if people would actually let me get some fucking sleep, I would not have time to write mean, nasty things about them.
But whatever. I made it these six months and I can go another six months, since nothing I do is life-dependent and I do not operate heavy machinery.