Okay so that wasn’t the title of the blurp I saw on Facebook at four AM (two hours from the end of my shift) yesterday when I was at work but it might as well have been.
The tag line of the link to the article read, “A new study finds that lack of sleep due to shift work is causing irreversible brain damage.” By shift work I assume they really meant working third shift or working nights. I’m pretty sure starting work at 6am and getting done by some reasonable evening hour isn’t going to cause “irreversible brain damage”.
I followed the link and learned…nothing. They gave it all away in the tag line. A new study finds that working nights and the lack of sleep that it inevitably comes with it is causing brain damage. Not just any kind of brain damage either, irreversible brain damage. Experts are researching medication to help counteract the damage. That’s all it really said.
My job, more specifically the shift I work at my job, is trying to kill me.
I’ve suspected this for a while now actually. It hadn’t occurred to me that irreversible brain damage might be the weapon of choice though. I thought it would take a much faster course of action. I’ve seen signs in my day to day of some ways that working nights might be trying to kill me.
Here are a few ways “lack of sleep due to shift work” is out to get me:
1.Burning. Many, many times I have reached for hot items, cups straight out of the microwave, metal pan lids on a hot stove, cookie sheets in the oven, without the appropriate protection. Sometimes a little voice in the back of my mind sends up a flare that says something is not quite right and I stop in time to realize this is a bad idea, one I normally would not even entertain. Sometimes I grab the hot lid or mug; dropping and swearing ensue.
2. Reduced levels of physical coordination. I can trip literally over nothing when sleep deprived. It’s pretty scary.
3. Loss of control of emotions. Normally I’m pretty even-keel. I’m not dramatic, the closest I usually come to an over the top reaction is a short burst of geeky excitement over something like Doctor Who or Game of Thrones finally starting a new season (even though I already know what happens….they all die) or yarn. I do love my sci-fy and yarn.
With sleep deprived me it’s a whole different ball game though. By the end of my work week little things might cause me to feel irate, to be seething with anger, or conversely (and even worse) to tear up like a menopausal woman. I hate crying…for any reason.
4. Bad judgment. Okay I have somewhat bad judgment all the time but when sleep deprived I have chronically bad judgment. Persistent bad judgment when it comes to both big and little decisions. This is especially apparent and dangerous when driving but can be seen when I’m trying to get somewhere. Running ten minutes late? Yes, I need McDonald’s.
Luckily I’ve adapted to this chronic bad judgment due to sleep deprivation and now avoid all major or money related decisions on my work weeks whenever possible.
5. Extreme caffeine consumption. I don’t know if this would actually kill me but if coffee was alcohol I could drink an Irishman under the table any
day night of the week. I’m sure there’s some negative side effects from this. I don’t really want to know them right now though. Ignorance is bliss right?
6. Incarceration due to committing homicide. My neighbors like to be really, really loud in their back yard…in the middle of the afternoon…when I’m trying to sleep. See numbers 3 & 4 above? That should explain it.
7. Decreased levels of social awareness. Okay this might not kill me but it does tend to make me look like an ass sometimes…well, more of ass than I usually do. I suffer from Foot-in-mouth disease (you know, open mouth insert foot). Sleep deprivation magnifies the symptoms exponentially.
Who knows. Maybe this could kill me. Someday I’ll say the wrong thing at the wrong time to the wrong person and…BAM!
And when it happens I’ll probably be wearing pajama pants…at four in the afternoon… adding to my generally disheveled appearance because ten extra minutes of sleep was totally worth not having time to get dressed or brush my hair.
Hopefully it doesn’t make the news.
8. Inability to watch the end of movies. This one definitely won’t cause my demise but is super annoying all the same and seriously impairs my social life. No matter how much I want to I just cannot stay awake through a whole movie if it’s within 48 hours of working. Sometimes crocheting helps but I can even fall asleep while watching TV or a movie AND crocheting.
9. By turning me into a vampire. Extremely pale, sleeps all day, never sees the sun, ? Yup, that’s me.
Or maybe a Mombie (a female zombie who performs parenting duties for living children even while in her zombie state). Dark circles around the eyes, blank stare, unwashed hair and sloppy clothing (see number 7 above) jerky uncoordinated gate (see number two above), monosyllabic sounds that make no sense coming out when she tries to speak…yeah.
And now I can add irreversible brain damage to the list.
Suddenly that shift premium is not looking as appealing.