How to Do Shift Work

From a period beginning last May I did a bunch of shift work, dealing cards. Specifically graveyard which is 2 AM - 10 AM. There were some positives. The major negative, however, is that the human body wasn't meant to keep hours like that. Primitive man was asleep in his cave at 2 AM. It was rough on me to begin with, and in an effort to save others the learning curve here are some tips. These kind of apply to any weird shift work.
(Image credit - Pokerpedia)
(Image credit - Pokerpedia)

Sleep mask & earplugs

With this kind of work, you'll be sleeping during sun hours. There's no way around it. It's also quite likely there will be outside noise during these hours. Other people or pets in your house, neighbors mowing the lawn, etc. A simple solution to both is this sleep mask and ear plug set. You'll have to get over the goofiness.
You could even sleep in the car at work, like this industrious woman. (Image credit - Amazon)
You could even sleep in the car at work, like this industrious woman. (Image credit - Amazon)
This didn't apply to me, but heavy sleepers may want to get a really loud alarm or one that shakes your pillow. Just in case the ear plugs nullify your alarm clock.

Modafinil

If you're doing weird hours, your doctor will write you a script for modafinil. Right on the Provigil site it mentions shift work disorder.
(Image credit - Divided States)
(Image credit - Divided States)
The first night I took the stuff, I did it at the 200 mg prescribed dosage. And I tweaked out. While my dealing skills were at 110%, everything was almost painfully bright and colorful. This is an issue in a casino. If I looked at a card too long, the focus hurt my eyes. I also became extremely anxious about talking to anyone. The next night I used a pill cutter to take 100 mg. That was the sweet spot for me. I don't recommend starting out at 200 mg. Another thing is that the effectiveness goes down with consecutive days of use.
  • Day 1: 100% effect
  • Day 2: 60% effect
  • Days 3 - 5: 20% maybe
So I would only take it 2/5 work days. Another big note - even at 100 mg, I found it really difficult to sleep in the 12 hour window after taking the stuff. Perhaps time usage accordingly. Overall I do recommend modafinil for shift workers. In the beginning, just be cautious with it and try to gauge the effects. Everyone's body is different.

Sleeping

On the actual topic of sleeping, it depends on when you are most active. My daily schedule looked like this for a while:
  • 12:00 AM - wake up, take modafinil
  • 2:00 AM to 10:00 AM - work
  • 12:00 PM to 6:00 PM - sleep
  • 10:00 PM to 12:00 AM - sleep
(Image credit - Pixshark)
(Image credit - Pixshark)
The big thing is that you try to be consistent about your active/dormant hours, even on your days off. Switching things up could throw off your Circadian rhythm.

Glasses

I found sunglasses and "computer glasses" helped make it easier for me to sleep. This could be placebo, or the eyewear may have helped block blue light. Supposedly that can hurt your sleepiness. As soon as I got out of work, sunglasses on. I would leave them on indoors when I got home, watching TV and stuff. Blue light paranoia.
(Image source - Imgur)
(Image source - Imgur)
More recently I got computer glasses (these cheap ones instead of $80 Gunnars) because I spend much of the day staring at a screen. Those could be more suitable for watching TV right before you go to bed.

Closing

Not sure if I could stand pulling another grave job, but swing shift (starting between 6 PM and 10 PM) might be okay. Hopefully these tips help shift work suck less for somebody. Good luck.
Just getting off work. (Image credit - Bitovi)
Just getting off work. (Image credit - Bitovi)