“You’re going into work?”

Night shift, graveyard shift, the dark side, I’ve referenced all of these when talking about my work schedule. Working overnight requires sleeping during the day. It’s not a hard concept to grasp however it seems an impossible to comprehend for those who don’t work this over night schedule.

Here’s a look at my schedule for the next few days. On Tuesday I will get home from work around 8am, change out of my scrubs and do a few things around the house before getting in a workout class at 9:30am. Once I’m home and settled I’m usually in bed by 11am and sleep until 4:45pm. I’ll grab some food, play with my dog and get ready for work. I’m out of the house no later than 6:15pm for the start of my shift at 7pm. Does that sound like a crazy day? To me, it’s completely normal. It’s the balance between working long shifts and maintaining a lifestyle. I bet if I flip flopped the am/pm you would agree it’s a long day but completely manageable.

What about Wednesday? On Wednesday’s I choose to switch it up. I go straight to bed after working overnight and then wake up at 3:30pm for a 4:30pm workout before heading into another shift. The alternating workout times permit my sleep schedule to balance out. Again for me, this is life.

It’s fascinating to my fellow gym goers. I’m asked daily if I either worked the night prior or am heading into work later that night. Regardless of my answer or how many times they hear it, they are always shocked. Some even question my sanity. I’ve been told to go home and lectured on taking better care of myself. I’ve been asked “as a nurse don’t you know better”?

My answer to all of you who find I difficult to recognize that 12 hours is the same regardless of where the sun is in the sky. I am a night shift, graveyard shift, dark side working nurse. I stay up late or wake up early to get my workouts in. I do this for my health. Exercise is as important as eating properly, adequate water intake, and enough hours of sleep. Life is about balance. It’s about doing what makes you happy while maintaining your health. No, I do not work an ideal schedule. Yes, there are days when I am tired. I will not let my work schedule define my life and dictate what I can and can’t do. There are days I sleep little and days I sleep too much. It’s a balancing act that I choose to maintain just as you choose your job and extra curricular activities, I do mine.

Neither one is right. Neither way is better nor more difficult than the other. So next time I finish a workout and say, “time for bed” at 11am or “I have to run and get to work” I ask you to rationalize the time in hours rather than sunlight, to refrain from judgement, and give me the same casual send off that you would any other regular day shift, daylight working person would receive.