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The Nocturnal Journals: A Random Addendum (or Randendum)

March 3, 2012

Back in December, I thought that I was going to be on third shift for several weeks, so I wrote the first in what was meant to be a series of posts called The Nocturnal Journals chronicling my experiment in living life at night.  Since my graveyard shift stint only lasted for four days, however, I was forced to abandon the project in favor of sleeping at night like a normal person.  Then suddenly, my boss scheduled me in last night (this morning for all of you temporal literalists) at 2 AM, and for one day I crashed right back into that crazy world of sleep deprivation and internal clock disruption that I thought I’d left behind for good.  While I didn’t miss the sleep deprivation, I did sort of miss my poor orphaned project, so I thought I’d take this chance to resurrect the Nocturnal Journals and do a little scientific observation on the key differences between the all-nighter as a lifestyle and a day like today.

1. Sleep.  When I was nocturnal for a week, the first day or so of transition cost me a few hours of sleep as I tried to figure out what time of day worked best for catching those elusive z’s, but eventually I caught onto a sort of rhythm and started waking up at 9:00 PM feeling nicely rested.  Not so with the one-night third shift.  I wasn’t tired enough to go to sleep early since I’d gotten plenty of sleep the night before, but I didn’t have nearly enough energy to stay up all the way through to the end of my shift at 10:30 AM.  Solution: take a three hour nap before work.  Result: I showed up at work feeling a little groggy, held onto my sanity pretty nicely through the end of my shift, then descended rapidly into complete and total loopiness.  At one point I’m pretty sure I was laughing about the word “potato” just because it exists. 

2. Stimulants.  I don’t usually drink coffee in the morning, so when I was nocturnal I didn’t really need it in the evening, either.  I’m usually fairly energetic without caffeine, so I just don’t bother ingesting it.  In cases like last night, however, caffeine becomes an absolute necessity to keep my brain from suddenly and irreversibly shutting down in the middle of stacking cantaloupes.  I drank several cups of coffee on the way to work, a liter of Coke during work, and a Grande Mocha from Biggby as soon as I got out of work, which is probably why I’m writing actual English words right now and not nonsense combinations of syllables.  Thanks, caffeine!  You’re asilfon prastorken!

3. Saturday?!  Okay, so this one isn’t so much a difference as a striking similarity.  After a whole week of being nocturnal, I still could not keep track of which day it was for the life of me.  There was no rhythm, no getting used to it, my brain’s clock just refused to admit that it was wrong and readjust to reality.  Strangely enough, it only took one day of blurring the dateline to get me all discombobulated again (side note: I am inordinately entertained by the fact that my spell check accepts the word discombobulated).  I came home from work this morning and wasn’t entirely sure what day it was, or what day tomorrow would be for that matter.  Fortunately, Rebecca Black is kind of an expert with the days of the weekend and she was able to set me straight.  Turns out today is Saturday.  And guess what?  Sunday comes afterwards.  Thanks, Rebecca.  Just be quiet with all your 7 AM wakin’ up in the morning.  I, for one, plan to sleep in.

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