Sleep – a struggling commodity

Sleep -  a struggling commodity

Webster’s definition of commodity — A useful or valuable thing. (AKA SLEEP!)

How many police officers do you think get a good night’s rest every night? How about every other night? OK— How about ONCE a week? I think I MIGHT fall into the last option. Although, I must admit, getting that good night’s usually comes at a cost the next day. I over-sleep thinking I can make up for my lack of sleep the rest of the week and then lose a day. I am cranky as a bear without hibernation when I am woken up ANY day. Well, unless the call comes from the station for a call-in for a bad crash or emergency. The rest of my family and friends have a cut-off time. A time they cannot call me before – for any reason other than limb loss or serious maiming. Seriously. I am an afternoon shift person. For those non-cop civilian types reading this – that means I work the 2p-midnight shift (aka 3p-11p)

When a noon shift person gets home there is no possibility they are going right to bed. Can you say WIRED? Like having a pot of coffee most nights. Afternoons are historically a busy shift wherever you look in police work. You cannot just TURN OFF the cop mode when you walk out the door. By COP MODE I mean the thinking of a police officer, the adrenaline you can have while working. It is NOT a relaxing job!

SOOO– home I go. Around midnight… “around” because leaving is not an exact science. You are scheduled til 2300 hours.. (most patrolmen) but you may not be leaving then. It starts to get busy and you are stuck. I am luckier now that I can use compensatory time at the end of my shift most often and get home around 2300.

HOME — where I have dogs, dirty dishes, clothes to wash… never ending right? Check the mail, turn on the tv, shed the rest of the uniform, wash my face. I am exhausted but awake.
Most nights my 3p-11p shift is the 3p-3a shift. I climb into bed with the dogs staring at me like I am nuts for still being awake. I am almost grateful I live alone so I can make noise or decide to stay up if I want.

AHH.. SLEEP. We supposedly go nuts without it right? Bodily systems shut down, hallucinations occur.. I can see that. Try working night shift… no wonder rotating shifts takes years off your life. Having a smiling night shift officer at one p.m. can be a hallucination in an of itself! Those officers working nights are said to have a higher chance for heart disease, obesity, diabetes.. etc etc.. Nights means a never ending battle to be NORMAL. Your first day off you spend sleeping to catch up.. or you try and stay awake all day to sleep normally at night and become a zombie by 8pm. NO WINNING. Yet, nights keeps you away from the “white shirts”. (The big bosses for the civilians reading) The world looks different at night. Daylight hurts your eyes. You can drive fast everywhere at night. EVERYWHERE. It is a bit more quiet in the early morning hours than any other time during the day.

The famous line – WE OWN THE NIGHT – is true for night shift police officers. You own your zone. You keep those people safe… a real watch over for the entire neighborhood you are assigned. But coming in rested is the hardest part. How many of the people working nights just work nights and no side jobs? A small percentage for sure.

So – back to my sleep habits..
I have been forcing myself to try and go to bed without more than an hour home at midnight. I have been getting up to try and work out to get back in shape. Up by 9am. It was working fine til last night. Got agitated at work over an idiot threatening one of my officers and I was wired when I got home. Up til 3a. Awake now at 9a. and heading to the bank and the gym. Wish me luck. Tonight I might be a BIT CRANKY. Just saying.

If you have sleep suggestions other than the usual melatonin, meds, relaxing baths, routines, counting sheep or dogs or something… post them as comments. I am always interested..

If there was an invention to guarantee good sleep as soon as you hit the pillow.. I would insist my pension fund invest in it. That commodity would be worth its weight in gold.


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