Graveyard. It is the shift that most junior patrol officers and dispatchers get assigned to work right after training. It is where you gain a lot of experience quickly and put your training capabilities to the test. Most junior officers prefer working the dark side; it is where the adrenaline kicks in, it is where all the action happens. Although some law enforcement officers choose that shift because it works out best for the home life or because that is the shift that was left over during sign-ups. Whatever the case may be the dark side does have some pros to it, such as a pay increase, and no administration around. However, there are a significant amount of cons, most of which take a toll on your health, such as sleep disorders, slower reflexes, not able to adjust on your off days, an increased chance of heart disease and cancer, to name a few. When do you choose when is the right time to come off that shift, or if leaving that shift is not an option what can you do to offset those cons of patrolling on graveyard?
There are certain things you can do to help your body adjust, avoid feeling like a zombie and still feel as though you are among the living! Eating.
Continue eating as you normally would. In general 5-6 meals and snacks a day. Even though the hours are a bit backward, you still need to continue fueling your body and providing it with enough energy. If not your body will go into a starvation mode and hold on to whatever 1 or 2 meals, you have that day, which could lead to weight gain! Exercise.
If your department allows it work out on duty during your lunch! It is there, it is free, and you do not have to fight for a bench! Another pro is that you can work out at that killer witching hour of 3-4am, get your heart pumping, burn off some steam, burn off those calories and get a natural surge of energy to finish off your shift!Get your sleep.
Sleep is such a necessity, and I know that at times we feel that there are not enough hours in a day to get our sleep. You need your senses about you. You can purchase items to help you sleep throughout the day. Such purchases can be blackout blinds to keep out that bright sun and earplugs to keep you from hearing your significant other that is stomping around the house or drowning out that pesky gardener that always seems to mow the lawn right as you are drifting off to dreamland. In a previous blog post, I talked about ways to find relaxation before you lay down from an exhausting day. You can check out that blog here
.Keep the communication open with your family.
That point seems simple enough. However, we forget that our family surrounding us are not mind readers. We can not expect them to continually remember that graveyard is exhausting. Especially if they continue to see you up and going, trying to keep up with all the daytime family events. If you are feeling tired, need a day to rest, need to skip a chore, pass on a birthday party then let your family know. It comes down to officer safety. Burning the candle at both ends does not end well for anyone. The public and your partners expect you to act at your full potential and your family expects you to return home. Some events will have to be missed. Sit down and talk about it. Make a list of priorities about how you can still feel in the loop with the family. Even making certain days "family days" or before you go to work, make it a point to have an early dinner with the family each night & come to think about it, forgoing the electronics would not be a bad option either. Ask for help.
You do not have superhuman powers. You can not just do everything all the time by yourself. I know, at times it feels like there is no one there for you, but have you tried asking yet before you get to that conclusion? I am sure if you put it out there, help will come. If you need help in the sleep section and you have tried everything on your own but are still feeling restless, then make a Dr.s appointment. There is no shame in seeking help. Some need it more than others; this goes for anyone with any problem. Asking for help does not make you weak, it does not make you any less of a person, and it is not something to be embarrassed by. In fact, asking for help is something to be proud of, it takes a lot of willpower in our twisted society way of thinking, to set our pride aside and accept help from others.
Do you have any other suggestions that have helped you overcome graveyard? Please share it with others and myself below!