Short Reads

Nights for Days

Night shifts generate strong opinions: are they desirable or miserable, easier or more difficult? Regardless, residency has a fair number of them, and unlike our colleagues we don’t get paid any extra. Personally I don’t mind them, although to be fair, I don’t currently have difficulty sleeping during the day or catching naps during slow moments. Even when things are busy, the hospital feels more quiet in the dark. There’s also some inherent camaraderie among those of us holding things together when everyone else is asleep—including many of the patients and their families.

What does make working nights problematic is the desynchronization with the rest of the world (or at least this hemisphere). Business hours are missed in favor of sleep. No one is on Messenger to talk to, and in the paradigm where texting replaces instant messaging, sending something is inherently risky in the event that the recipient doesn’t have their phone on silent.

There is also internal confusion when taking histories and describing when things happened. What becomes “yesterday” in my mind no longer relates to others’ interpretation of the same, instead spanning two calendar days. I have been on nights for two days shifts, and I’ve already forgotten what day of the week it is.