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Working nights and horses

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  • Working nights and horses

    Hey all,
    I'm about to graduate and looking at applying for a job that's M-F from 12 AM to 8 AM. Just looking for some insight from people who work the night shift - how hard is it to get used to? Do you head to the barn right after work and then sleep all day? Or do you find that you're just too tired to ride at the end of the night? What about weekends? Do you still sleep during the day plan barn time around that, or revert back to a "normal" schedule for the weekends?
    My CANTER cutie Chip and IHSA shows!

  • #2
    Used to do that many years ago....headed for bed after work, slept and then
    to the barn, back home, clean up and then to the barn. Weekends, slept in
    on Saturday til about noon and sort of switched for the weekend. Tried to
    get a good nap sometime Monday before heading in. Of course, didn't get up at the crack of dawn over the weekend.


    • #3
      I think it kind of depends on if you're a 'morning person' or not. I am, so my routine has always been: get up, grab a bite to eat, go to work. So when I worked midnights I stayed up after work until about nine hours before I had to go in again, and then slept. I had a really hard time trying to fall asleep right after work in broad daylight, even with the room dark. I just wasn't tired enough. Either way you go though, routine seems to be the big thing. And a room as dark and quiet as you can get it. I used to masking tape the shades to the windows. But you have to completely retrain your body to do something unnatural, so it takes a little time.
      It's a small world -- unless you gotta walk home.


      • #4
        I was always too "up" after working mid to sleep - so I'd head to the barn, do my thing, then home to crash.
        Now in Kentucky


        • #5
          it depends how you want to play it, as i have done nights 10pm till 8am which was 10hr shifts

          i used to turn them out in the monrings after work then go home for a sleep
          then in the afternoon depending on summer/winter would if winter go up about 3.30 and do everything and put them away before it got dark
          in summer would ride out more then put them away after everything done about 6 pm
          that on both occassion left me enough time to do me dinner and eat it as the job was down the road and only 10mins away

          and or grab an hours forty winks or so before the off, if in the winter funny how sunny evenings your more awake than dull winter nights lol

          the trick is to stay awake all night - but your is 8 hour shift its better if they are back to back rather than splite as in one day night here and there as its

          hard to get used to at 1st but your body soon works it out - and if you dont like and feel like your a zoombie all the time then this job isnt for you

          keep plenty of water with you it helps keep you awake if you feel yourself going to nod of go to the loo at quick march and freshen up - lol pick yourself up again

          ts not hard to get used to as befdore that job used to work 7pm till 7am 3 nights a week which is 12 hour shift


          • #6
            I work 7p - 7a so I'm lucky to only have to work three nights a week. I have my own place so I have to do the barn twice a day, but I have found that I do better doing the bulk after I sleep. After putting a solid 12 hour shift on my feet a large portion of the night ( I'm a nurse) and dealing with an hour long commute time, I'm just too tired in the mornings to do anything other than sleep. Basically it is going to depend on you and your bodies needs. My friend who I also work with likes to stop and ride on her way home, but she can sleep until the last minute. Between barn chores and a 5 year old, I don't have that luxury. I love night shift and this will be my fourth year doing it, but it definitely is an adjustment. Good luck!


            • Original Poster

              Bumping this up - maybe for those of you who are waking up and getting ready for work?
              My CANTER cutie Chip and IHSA shows!


              • #8

                For a time, I worked a day job and an overnight job a few days per week. Boy that sucked. Anyway, I still rode 2 per day. Typically in the evening between jobs.

                I've also worked straight overnights. My silver bullet? The blue light. (check out Apollo Health) This blue light (the Go-Lite) has also helped me when I was going back and forth from the US to Europe or Mauritius and had to hit the ground running. It's recommended for shift work.

                I don't know what the ultimate answer is...but I know that for me, keeping a good schedule even when I wasn't up all night made a difference.

                Best wishes.
                A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                Might be a reason, never an excuse...


                • #9
                  It really depends on how you handle it. I personally hate night shift, I am a terrible day sleeper and have been doing nights (I rotate though, 50/50 day/night) for 4 years and still haven't gotten used to it.

                  When I'm working a stretch there is no way I can get up in between them and be productive at all, but after my last night if it's nice enough out I can usually motivate myself to go out and ride.

                  Not even considering horses, it really affects my overall life. No one else in my life (other than my other nurse friends) are night shifters so I feel like I don't see anybody. I'm usually walking out the door when my boyfriend's walking in. I get almost to the point of depressed if I'm on them for too long (sometimes it ends up being a month straight of nights with our scheduling).

                  I will say I don't actually mind the shift itself, and I don't have trouble staying awake for it...it's just everything else it changes in my lifestyle that I hate and the sleep deprivation is awful. I just came off a 2 week stretch and have been sleeping 12-13hrs a night and my body still doesn't feel "caught up."


                  • #10
                    First you have to figure out what the shift is going to do to you and then you take it from there. Some people really suffer.

                    I used to do 2200 to 0630 and I had a half an hour window where I was going to be awake once I got off work. If I got to the gym I could do a class there and be fine but if I tried to drive home (which took longer than half an hour) I was flirting with disaster.
                    I did 1400 to 2230 which worked out pretty good for a 10 AM lesson, as long as there was no OT I woke up refreshed and had plenty of energy to ride. 1600 to 0030 not so much, it's really hard to come home and go straight to bed unless you are already falling asleep in the car, then you have to shower and brush the teeth and next thing you know you are wide awake at 3AM.
                    Right now I start at 0300 to 0430 on flextime and I am winding up falling asleep as soon as I get home - but since I am wanting to spend more time with my daughter at this point in her life I don't need to be awake till she gets home at 5PM.
                    You really have to watch your sleep hygiene - it's so tempting to stay up when the sun is up but it's bad for your health and really used to make me kind of stupid and dozy. Still does actually, LOL.
                    Blackout curtains and go to bed at the same time. I used to catch up on sleep on my days off.
                    Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                    Incredible Invisible


                    • #11
                      I work five 8 hour night shifts, Sunday night thru Thursday night. In the winter, spring and fall, I head home to sleep and go to the barn in the afternoon(3pm-ish). As soon as the temps start getting hot, I go to the barn directly after work(usually June, July, August). I have been working nights for close to 30 years. It did take several months to get used to working nights when I first started doing it. I mainly did it to avoid having to rotate shifts(I'm a nurse). Be aware that if you work Friday night you may miss out on Saturday activities like shows,trail rides etc. because you are too tired to go after working all night. On the weekends, I sleep at night (Friday and Saturday) then on Sunday night lay down for a few hours prior to going to work that night.
                      Last edited by Simbalism; May. 10, 2011, 05:50 AM. Reason: more info


                      • #12
                        I loved night shift. I'm not a morning person anyway and I can sleep in daylight easily. When I had a horse at the trainer's, I'd ride once or twice a week in the morning when I got off work. In the summer I'd usually ride the "at home" horse at 8 or 9 at night when the sun went down and it was cooler but still daylight, then take a shower and go to work. In winter I don't ride much.

                        When I worked 5 eights from Sun night to Thursday night, on Friday I'd take a short nap (or not) and I'd pretty much start my weekend Friday AM and sleep at night. Sunday before my first shift of the week I'd take a nap for 3-4hrs before work and I was good to go. The great thing about night shift is that if you have to get something done during the day (vet, farrier, etc), you can just sacrifice a little sleep. More than once I've scheduled a vet visit and my vet (who's always late!) has caught me dozing in the barn aisle on some hay bales.


                        • #13
                          I did an odd split shift for about 10 years (4 p.m. - 1 a.m.) and I handled it pretty darn well, after about 2 months of getting used to it. (I also had a desk job with coworkers to speak to, so it's not like I was sitting alone in a guard booth all night. Or operating heavy machinery.)

                          As soon as I got off work, I would drive home and go right to sleep. I'd then wake up around 10 or 11 am, do errands, laundry, things out in the yard, take a shower and get ready for work. This was about the only way I could manage to do normal things like run to the post office, bank, a business, etc. The only real downside is that if your job goes over for the night (and you're working 10 hours instead of 8) your body quickly shuts down as you've been up a LONG time.

                          I would say that when you sleep will depend a lot on how social you are and how much you do normally between 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. If you have an S.O. who would like to see you occasionally, it would probably be best to sleep as soon as you get off work, then wake up around 4 or 5 p.m. That way you'll have time to go to a movie, have dinner, etc.

                          Otherwise, going to the barn after work and doing errands then seems like a good idea. You'll be tired, true, but seeing the fresh daylight always seems to give me a nice energy boost.

                          Getting started with it, I had a cool, dark room. Normal pull down solid blinds, anchored in place by some tape, or a carefully placed book or box, so I didn't have light seeping around the edges. I also always had a ceiling fan or floor fan to give me some white noise. I still have all of those in place even now, when I work noon-9 p.m.

                          When you first start out, I would set a schedule and keep it for a few weeks. Let your body get used to sleeping at the new time, then see if it works for you. If you're having trouble, even after a couple of weeks, switch it around. Give your body enough time to adjust before thinking it's not going to work.

                          Once you've found your ideal sleeping time, then you can decide if you want to switch it up on the weekends. It's going to be hard enough on your body going to the new schedule, much less if you throw in 'normal' weekends.

                          Of course, like most everyone here (including myself), you'll eventually become a master of sleep and can pretty much tackle any sleep shift/pattern you need without missing a beat. It just takes a little time in the beginning to teach your body to sleep when you need it to.

                          Hope that made sense.
                          The dude abides ...


                          • #14
                            Working nights isn't so bad. I am one of the lucky ones who gets home at 8 am and crashes till 4 or 5. Heads to the barn come home. Hourish nap then back to work. I am really hoping to switch to 12s soon so I can work less. I love the shift itself. But I don't like the person it makes me. Uber super cranky and ornery and frustrated easily. I also have a really short temper. That's not me at all! I also hate the "fake day off". The one you have off but worked for the first 8 hours of it, and sleep the rest away. Going to the barn is usually not a problem except it puts me in prime lesson time which I try to avoid like the plague.


                            • #15
                              I didn't mind it. MUCH easier on my body than working, say, 4 p.m. 'til midnight. I'd go to bed around 8 a.m., and sleep until about three, when my body "naturally" woke up. Plenty of time for activities.


                              • #16
                                I work 11pm-7am and you might be surprised how "wired" you are at 7am when you get off. (getting paid an extra .90 for shift differential is very nice

                                I do what I need to do after I get off then sleep then get up and take a nap before work. Seems to work for me.

                                I am NOT a morning person
                                Draumr Hesta Farm
                                "Wenn Du denkst es geht nicht mehr, kommt von irgendwo ein kleines Licht daher"
                                Member of the COTH Ignorant Disrepectful F-bombs!*- 2Dogs Farm


                                • #17
                                  I'll be switching back to nights at the end of the month...sigh.

                                  I go to bed when I come home, whether I am nights or days. My SO kind of ruined it for me right before he deployed (on days, and I stayed awake to spend more time with him rather than go to bed at 7pm) and now I come home and dink around, read a book, etc, and my sleep is suffering. After this night cycle I hope to get it bumped back to normal.

                                  When I work nights, 6p-6a, I would come home and go to bed, then wake up in the afternoon. If I slept past 2pm, I considered it AWESOME. Usually something wakes you up, cars in the street, neighbors mowing, UPS delivering and making the alarm system go off (dogs). I usually don't go see the horses on my days on, just on my days off. Days off, I try to get up earlier on my first weekend day, say noonish, just for more daylight to do stuff. Reverse the am/pm part of that and it's what represents my schedule on days too, except I can usually sleep until my alarm at 330/4am, but again, don't usually see the horses on days on.
                                  COTH's official mini-donk enabler

                                  "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl


                                  • #18
                                    I have been doing shift work for 11 years.... my nights shifts are 10pm-6am and I work four days straight with two days off. My horses are at home but even when they weren't I was MUCH sharper if I went to bed in the morning and went to the barn in the afternoon. I still do that now, only exception is I feed before I go to bed.

                                    Over the past few years I have stopped sleeping as well during the day despite room darkening shades. I have started using an amazing eye mask. I have had a few much this one is INCREDIBLY comfortable and completely blocks light:

                                    I'm also a fan of valerian root and melatonin. I only use these if I can sleep a full eight hours. Generally I go to bed by 8am, get up around 3pm and head out to the barn about an hour later for chores, riding, etc. I do not go back to bed before work. Also, on my first day off I do the same in the AM but force myself up by noon so I can get a full nights sleep.

                                    It's all about creating a routine and finding happiness with that routine!
                                    Gone gaited....