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Old 09-19-13, 03:07 PM   #1
Lspade
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Calling all doctors, nurses, EMS personel, and anyone else with random work hours...

I am a new paramedic fresh out of school and can't believe how terrible I now sleep after only three months working in the field. One night I may work 7p-7a and two days later I could work 11a-11p. Instead of sleeping 9p-5a every night like I've done for the first 25 years of my life I now sleep completely random. I still get 9-10 hours of sleep most days but it is usually randomly split up throughout the day. This didn't bother me until I started reading The Cyclists Training Bible on the topic of growth hormone release.

Am I doomed to have lowered levels of GH for the rest of my career? I have been scouring the web for research articles that give me hope for my future progression as a cyclist but they only talk about the standard 8 hour sleep pattern. How many of you guys with similar sleep patterns are competing in the higher categories at races?

Any input is much appreciated.
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Old 09-19-13, 03:21 PM   #2
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I don't work third shift but I have friends and relatives that do. Two of their thoughts:

1. Fireman (Captain), retired now. He was absolutely shocked at how much better he could ride once he retired. He had some crazy sounding shifts, 96 hours and such (he can catch cat naps on a cot but as an officer he's usually needed for various things). He's a Cat 3, Masters technically, but he'd do the 3s and Masters usually.
2. Sister in law. "I used to think I was getting used to third shift. After working second shift I realized that I was just getting used to feeling like crap." She doesn't ride or race.

Recovery is absolutely key in cycling. I hope some 3rd shift people can offer constructive advice. No idea on the GH release and all that.

Good luck.
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Old 09-19-13, 03:58 PM   #3
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Thanks for the stories carpediemracing. I never considered the idea that although I feel well rested I may "just be getting used to feeling like crap." :/
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Old 09-19-13, 04:56 PM   #4
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I worked 3rd shift at hotels for a few years. I did do some running and lifting, mostly on my days off at 12am-1am in 24-hour gyms.

Aside from empty gyms and running on empty streets in the middle of the night, it was terrible. The worst is that you can do everything, get blackout curtains, silence your house, etc, then at 2pm when you're trying to sleep your neighbor starts up their lawn mower. What can you say? It's 2pm.

The vast majority of society operates on 1st shift hours. Third-shift work takes a toll.

I guess my advice is to buy blackout curtains, an eye mask, get used to sleeping with earplugs, and schedule more hours for sleep than you need, because it takes forever to fall asleep at noon or 1pm.
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Old 09-19-13, 05:11 PM   #5
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I also worked 3rd shift at a hotel years ago. My advice is to try and sleep as soon as possible after your shift. Also try to be consistent about when you sleep every day. If you have a basement, sleep down there, it's more quiet and darker. Other than that, there's not much you can do, you are working against your natural biorhythms.
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Old 09-19-13, 05:17 PM   #6
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Op is talking about Rotating Shift.

Been there.....in 6 months he will become a zombie as I did, along with everyone at the plant.
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Old 09-19-13, 06:15 PM   #7
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Op is talking about Rotating Shift.
True. It's like 3rd shift, but worse.
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Old 09-19-13, 07:38 PM   #8
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I work straight days and still feel like crap because there isn't enough hours in the day to work, train and sleep.

I notice that when I'm on vacation or at training camp I can ride much longer and stronger and I know it's because there's more sleeping and recovering going on then when I'm working.
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Old 09-20-13, 06:56 AM   #9
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I think the real difficulty is the rotation, not the simple fact of working third shift.

I worked third shift (9:30 p.m.-6:00 a.m.) for nearly six years when I worked in television. On one hand, I was like others, where I think I became just accustomed to feeling tired/like crap. But, I did at least have a consistent sleep schedule. I found it really conducive to riding, actually. I would just head out at 6:30 or 7:00 right after work for and hour or 90 minutes. I never really felt like my performance suffered because my body was able to adapt to a consistent sleep schedule. Also, I slept really, really well after those morning rides. On the weekends, when I tried to sleep on a normal schedule I usually felt like crap.
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Old 09-20-13, 07:47 AM   #10
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Rotating shifts are terrible. Third shift is really bad for most people. The local PD is on rotating shifts, 2 weeks of each. I don't know how they do it. If you are working for a civil service agency will you be able to eventually bid a steady shift once you get a little more seniority?
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Old 09-20-13, 10:20 AM   #11
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I think the real difficulty is the rotation, not the simple fact of working third shift.

You guys say "rotating" as if there was a set schedule when in truth I work an even worse schedule called "flex". This means I could work 7p-7a, the next day 4p-4a, then 8a-8p, then four days of 5p-5a, maybe a 16 hr overnighter, I could be in the middle of sleeping and get called in to work at 2am.

After reading all of the comments in this thread I decided to say **** it . Since there apparently isn't any research papers proving that I am screwed I will consider myself a test subject trying to prove the theory of needing a consistant sleep pattern wrong. I usually get 10 hours of sleep a day so I do not believe I am sleep deprived. However, the daily cycle of hormone release inside my body is likely getting all f'ed up.

Next year will be my second year of racing and I have high goals. The Cyclists Training Bible has talked me into saving up for a power meter so once I get it dialed I will be able to see how my messed up schedule affects my training. In truth, I have a positive outlook because sleeping 2-3 times a day means I am getting multiple doses of growth hormone which, according to the book, is a good thing. I guess we will just have to wait and see.
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Old 09-20-13, 10:24 AM   #12
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You guys say "rotating" as if there was a set schedule when in truth I work an even worse schedule called "flex". This means I could work 7p-7a, the next day 4p-4a, then 8a-8p, then four days of 5p-5a, maybe a 16 hr overnighter, I could be in the middle of sleeping and get called in to work at 2am.
Start taking civil service tests. FF/Paramedics at least have the advantage of a more predictable schedule. Some places are moving to a PO/Paramedic system. NYC has full time Paramedics/EMTs under the umbrella of the FDNY.
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Old 09-20-13, 10:40 AM   #13
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Civil service tests?

To answer your prior question, I am the newest medic at a service that is highly loved by its employees which means it will be a few years before I will be bidding any shifts. I guess this is the sacrifice I must make to work for such a stellar service.
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Old 09-20-13, 10:46 AM   #14
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Civil service tests?

To answer your prior question, I am the newest medic at a service that is highly loved by its employees which means it will be a few years before I will be bidding any shifts. I guess this is the sacrifice I must make to work for such a stellar service.
Many large cities, and some suburban counties have professional paramedic service run by the gov't. Sometimes these services provide firefighting, rarely they are police, sometimes they are stand alone. On the coasts and in the industrial upper midwest these agencies are usually civil service. This means you must take and pass a test to get the job. Once you have the job, you are a public sector employee with bennies, pensions, etc. Often you will be able to bid a shift once a year, according to seniority. It sounds like that may at some point be possible at your current place of employment. Either way, enjoy. Try not to burn out. Laugh at messed up ****. Etc.
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Old 09-20-13, 10:58 AM   #15
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As a side note, when I travel for work I often end up with late nights, early mornings, poor sleep and high stress. I fly home on Sunday or Monday after a 4 to 6 day hitch. No matter how well I've taken care of myself, I can't ride hard for at least 2 days. Often I take the entire next week and just put miles in at a maximum of around tempo pace until the weekend. By Saturday I'm ok to ride hard, but it really does take it out of me.

If you were on short sleep chronically, then you will definitely have a tough time with riding hard.
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Old 09-20-13, 11:00 AM   #16
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That sucks. What happens if you are on a 35 miles into a 70 mile ride and get a call to get into work? Is that a realistic possibility?
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Old 09-20-13, 11:25 AM   #17
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That sucks. What happens if you are on a 35 miles into a 70 mile ride and get a call to get into work? Is that a realistic possibility?
Ya, it hasn't happened yet but when it does I will be telling them to come pick me up if they need me within the next two hours. Luckily most times we get a 6 hour notice unless someone calls in sick at the last minute.
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Old 09-20-13, 11:38 AM   #18
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I guess we will just have to wait and see.
I think this is key. Everyone responds differently to the same situation. You might be fine. It might be better for you in some aspects. Get the PM, work hard, ride smart.
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Old 09-20-13, 11:53 AM   #19
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I don't work shift work but here is a typical day:
3:45 am - wake up
4:10 - at gym for weight session
6:00 - leave for home or office dependent on if I am getting daughter ready for school
7:00 - Either train or take daughter to school then sit in traffic
Work 8:00 -5:00 and usually train mid-afternoon
Home by 6:00. cook, eat, get stuff ready for the next day
In bed by 10:00
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Old 09-20-13, 11:54 AM   #20
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never worked shifts, but my college schedule was pretty close. Sometimes, I'd work in the lab or stay at the library till midnight, go home, and then wake up early for my paper route. Sometimes, I skip the sleep, go straight to my paper route, and skip a couple of classes while I sleep. It wasn't fun. I wasn't really into cycling as much as I am now, but campus was 3-4 miles from my apartment, and I'd struggle to find the energy to bike home on numerous occasions.
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Old 09-20-13, 12:01 PM   #21
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I never *could* get used to rotation or flex scheduling. I *did* find out VERY quickly that my body much preferred the 3-11 shift, as it prefers to sleep from 5am to 10am, and as long as I could sleep those EXACT hours, I NEVER needed more than 5 hours sleep, no matter how physically taxing my day was.
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Old 09-20-13, 12:09 PM   #22
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Man, that sounds rough. I thought it was bad when I was living at home in summers between years of college and working third but having parents that expecting me to live on their schedule on weekends. Waking up to breakfasts of fried fish and going bed after dinners of cereal. Or coming home after a long shift and being asked to go out with the .22 and wait for the groundhog that's been getting in the garden again or mow the lawn and do groceries and all the other weekend crap. Just get used to one schedule and then have to flip and then flip back 2-3 days later. At least I had a few days at each schedule rather than flipping every day. Ooof.
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Old 09-20-13, 12:13 PM   #23
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Years ago worked shifts-hospital-changing shifts at time
Nights- 11p-7:30a sucked
evenings 3-11:30 sucked also
7-3:30 ok
Rotating them-sucked-but I NEVER got accustomed to working nights
Many many many studies show night shifts-bad for your health-humans designed to sleep at night!

Develop a routine-and follow it religiously
Get is as DARK as possible in your sleeping room-cool as possible too-maybe some sort of white noise-if necessary meaning noisy at home
Get to bed same time-for what ever shift you are on
STAY in bed the full time-sleeping or not
Avoid caffeine for several hrs before bed time
Sleeping pills-won't work long term-same story OTC sleeping pills
Some folks have some luck with low dose melatonin

Nights or rotating shifts-rough
Luck
Charlie
PS-Seems some folks have used light boxes-light therapy-used for "shorter day winter depression"(SAD) to help adjust -just a thought

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Old 09-20-13, 12:23 PM   #24
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Two things you can do to help sleep:

Cut a Foil Insulation Board to fit your windows. This will Black Out the Light and also outside noise.

http://www.menards.com/main/building...988-c-5779.htm

Get a small fan. Aim it toward your face. The Breeze and noise (humming) will help you sleep.
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Old 09-20-13, 08:14 PM   #25
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No crazy stories but I experienced doing 1st and 2nd shift constantly rotating and it messed me up for good.

Anyway, getting a small water fountain helps neutralize noise. I'm seriously thinking of getting one because I'm sensitive to noise and I'm a light sleeper 80% of the time

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