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#1 Annie Wengenroth

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 10:27 PM

So I've done it before...night shoots...but every time, I always feel like I hit a "crash n' burn" point where I'm like, "What the #$!? What time is it?! Where am I?! It's 3 am...but it feels like noon!" And it's kinda frustrating, as someone who is rather partial to sunlight. Not to mention, the longest amount of time I've been on a schedule like this, was maybe a week.

But now, I'm on a show, and it's looking like I'll be on a night shift schedule for 5 weeks. So I guess I'm wondering, who else has done this...and how did you deal? The whole "5 cups of coffee" thing doesn't work for me. It makes me jittery and if anything, more tired. I want to experience at least a few hours of daylight before I go to work or before I go to bed, if at all possible. I do not do well without sunlight and fresh air..I mean, who does? On the other hand, I don't want to screw myself out of sleep if things start to get crazy and days get long.

Let's say I get home anywhere between 4 and 8 am...I sleep until 9-11 am...wake up, try to do some stuff, then take a nap in the afternoon so that I'm fresh to go to work at about 5 pm. In essence, dividing up my sleep schedule. Has anyone ever done this and survived? Or should I just bite the bullet and get used to the idea of waking up at 2:00 in the afternoon, which does not thrill me at all? I used to do the 5-6 hours+ nap thing when I would DJ, but that was for only a day...which is totally different. And every other night shoot job, I've gotten so beat, that I've basically just resigned myself to sleeping from 6 am to 3 pm or whatever...which I'm trying to avoid this time around.

I'd like to actually do my job to the best of my abilities and remain at least marginally healthy, beyond just "getting through" it. Any ideas? What about herbal supplements like melatonin? Whaddya think? Methamphetamines are not an option. :-P
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#2 Michael Nash

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 10:52 PM

Learn how the circadian rhythm works:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circadian_rhythm

http://healthlink.mcw.edu/article/922567322.html

(google "circadian rhythm" for more info).

In short, your body adjusts to the schedule. The first night is the toughest, the second a little easier, and within a week it's not difficult to sustain a "normal" energy level throughout the day (night). Not seeing the sun can get depressing though.

Don't mess with Melatonin -- it will do more harm to your sleep cycle than good unless you know precisely how your body will react to the timing and doses. You can easily end up feeling groggy and sluggish, and actually significantly vulnerable to accidents while on the job.

You only need stimulants like caffeine the first day or two, but don't take any past "lunch." That's the biggest mistake I see people do on set all the time; they get tired around the 8th or 10th hour and start slamming the Red Bull. Then guess what happens -- they're up all "day" and don't get any restful sleep or establish a sustainable sleep pattern.

On your days off try to maintain a schedule that's similar to your work schedule, or else you throw your cycle all out of whack again and deprive yourself of sleep.
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#3 Mike Panczenko

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 10:52 PM

So I've done it before...night shoots...but every time, I always feel like I hit a "crash n' burn" point where I'm like, "What the #$!? What time is it?! Where am I?! It's 3 am...but it feels like noon!" And it's kinda frustrating, as someone who is rather partial to sunlight. Not to mention, the longest amount of time I've been on a schedule like this, was maybe a week.

But now, I'm on a show, and it's looking like I'll be on a night shift schedule for 5 weeks. So I guess I'm wondering, who else has done this...and how did you deal? The whole "5 cups of coffee" thing doesn't work for me. It makes me jittery and if anything, more tired. I want to experience at least a few hours of daylight before I go to work or before I go to bed, if at all possible. I do not do well without sunlight and fresh air..I mean, who does? On the other hand, I don't want to screw myself out of sleep if things start to get crazy and days get long.

Let's say I get home anywhere between 4 and 8 am...I sleep until 9-11 am...wake up, try to do some stuff, then take a nap in the afternoon so that I'm fresh to go to work at about 5 pm. In essence, dividing up my sleep schedule. Has anyone ever done this and survived? Or should I just bite the bullet and get used to the idea of waking up at 2:00 in the afternoon, which does not thrill me at all? I used to do the 5-6 hours+ nap thing when I would DJ, but that was for only a day...which is totally different. And every other night shoot job, I've gotten so beat, that I've basically just resigned myself to sleeping from 6 am to 3 pm or whatever...which I'm trying to avoid this time around.

I'd like to actually do my job to the best of my abilities and remain at least marginally healthy, beyond just "getting through" it. Any ideas? What about herbal supplements like melatonin? Whaddya think? Methamphetamines are not an option. :-P


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#4 Mike Panczenko

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 11:01 PM

The past few months i have done a lot of night shoots, and for me, they never get easier. Some people have no trouble adjusting to them, and others, myself including, never adjust. I normally sleep during the day, but again, others split it and take several short naps for their rest. Tailor it to your own body- what works best for you. The one thing, above all, is be safe with your driving. If you can't drive safely, get production to get a hotel room for you. If they won't, then stay with a friend, or pull off on the side of the road. Don't mess with your safety. Also, every weekend, I dedicate one day to sleeping pretty much. Others might say this is worse, because it will throw off the schedule you have semi-adjusted to during the prior week, but for me, that works. Really, the only thing I can say is to do what works for your body, which will be completely different from what works for someone else.

The last thing, is that our circadian rhythms will never fully adjust to the night shift. They get more comfortable with it, but they never fully adjust. Extended night shoots suck. Look forward to the end of the month when you can sleep normally again. View it as a goal, and once you have reached it, celebrate by sleeping.
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#5 Jess Haas

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Posted 12 November 2007 - 12:12 AM

I am one of the weirdos who doesn't really have a problem with night shoots. For me once I am on a particular schedule I am usually fine. If I get a chance it is sometimes nice to sit out in the sun for a little bit either before going to set or after getting off, but I wouldn't change up my schedule for it.

I am not a huge fan of caffeine or energy drinks and I think that actually makes adjusting to a different schedule a lot easier. I am a fan of drink mixes containing B12 and other vitamins. They don't give you the short term boost that a stimulant will but they do have a good effect for the long haul.

There is a reason that breakfast is always breakfast and lunch is always lunch regardless of the hour. Forget what time it is and surrender to the schedule of the film.

~Jess
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#6 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 12 November 2007 - 12:43 AM

For me anyway, a straight sleep through is better than broken up sleep with more naps.
I think that to get rested I need to have some of that deep sleep cycle. I would be more
tired sleeping for three hours and then getting up and then sleeping for three hours in the afternoon.


Also, it's an extremely hard schedule to maintain any kind of exercise routine but if you can somehow
swing even 20-25 minutes a day, I find that doing that and sleeping six hours makes me feel much
better than sleeping six and a half hours and not exercising. I'd sleep first and then work out
before or after "breakfast".
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#7 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 12 November 2007 - 12:59 AM

I'm extremely nocturnal, so staying awake is never an issue for me. But maintaining a productive energy level is the only issue I face.

I find that if there's a good veggie tray provided by craft, I'm feasting off that as often as I can, and that certainly keeps me going.

Just stay away from sugar.
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#8 Annie Wengenroth

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Posted 12 November 2007 - 03:19 AM

Well, I survived the first week...complicated by the fact that we only had one 10-hour day (or rather, *I* did; I had to log tapes!), and the rest were more like 7-8 on average. So it's weird because I get home at maybe 2-3 am sometimes and I'm just like, "..." since that isn't even that late. But goddamn it do I feel like crap! :( I feel like I'm sleeping MORE than usual and somehow I'm MORE tired, which makes no sense. And I'm having a hard time eating because the whole idea of "dinner" shortly before midnight doesn't even make sense to me. Not to mention, I feel like I hardly do anything when I'm not working...in part because there's not much to do at those hours.

As someone who loves the sun and is usually really active and not into sitting around, (and EXTREMELY prone to the winter blues anyway) this is really, really getting to me, to the point where I'm actually thinking of requesting to switch for a week with another AC on a morning crew. We're all pretty surprised that it doesn't seem like they'll be rotating our schedules at all for the whole job. I've been reading that if anything, you should go to bed as soon as you get done with work, instead of staying up and therefore having to reverse your "clock" any more than necessary. But I still haven't really figured out a good strategy. My new routine is to hit the gym before work in the "morning" (:sob:) and be in my pajamas before the sun rises.

But. It. SUCKS. I think if I were running around all night, it would help things...but the late hours combined with not much to do, is really getting to me. At least I'm getting paid well for it. :sigh: Still, I'm very frustrated with myself for not being able to adapt better- and for not being able to fully appreciate that this is a much-needed gig for me, between the money, the union hours, and the fact that there's not much else happening thanks to the strike. I mean yeah, you're welcome to smack me if you want- I myself have found it tempting recently!

Well, hopefully this coming week, I'll settle into a better routine. I'm actually pretty surprised- and bummed- that this is taking such a toll on me. It's like my body is trying to adapt and my brain is totally not having any of it. The last night shoot I worked, I think it was easier because they were working us to death and I was appropriately exhausted after work each day. Maybe I should just run up and down the stairs of the camera tech room or something.
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#9 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 12 November 2007 - 04:44 AM

I've never had any problem doing nights, but then I came up through event and concert rigging and lighting where you start working when there's work to do and stop working when there isn't, so I've done heaps of it.

Further to earlier answers, just go with Production Time and forget the real world. I did a week on nights about a year ago and loved it, but then I'm a serious night owl anyway. Going home on nearly-empty trains out of London at a point when the ones you're passing going the other way are packed with helpless rat-racers is a deeply warming and fulsome experience. Learn to like the practicalities of it and your feeble, fleshy shell will get in line.

I've never been a great one for going down the gym, so I don't know how it'll affect you. Sugary drinks and sloth forever!

Phil
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#10 Annie Wengenroth

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Posted 12 November 2007 - 10:50 AM

Haha yeah, that's the other weird part...getting on the train coming back from work when everyone else is going TO work. I think one time somebody thought I was homeless.
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#11 John Sprung

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Posted 12 November 2007 - 02:58 PM

I've never had any problem with nights. I find the best way to turn around is to stretch my hours on the days off before going to nights -- Stay up late, then sleep late the first day, stay up later and sleep even later the second, and by the third, you can work the night schedule. The same stretching thing works for getting back to days.

Once when I had a lot of down time, I found that getting out of sync with the sun worked quite well. My week was six days of 28 hours instead of seven days of 24 hours.

Another thing worth doing is to get completely off caffine during your normal life. That way it'll have some effect if you need it temporarily. It does take a few days to a week to get completely clear of it if you've been drinking a lot of tea or coffee. You'll have no energy during that time, so you'd have to plan for that. It could be one way to make good use of the strike.



-- J.S.
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#12 Matt Pacini

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Posted 12 November 2007 - 05:45 PM

I have two major bits of advice:


1. DO NOT use caffeine. All it does is rob you of energy later, that it's giving you now. There's no net gain in energy with it, and in situations like this, you'll just end up drinking more and more of it, becoming quickly addicted, then it doesn't do anything for you at all, but make you tired.

2. Stop breaking the sleep up. That just doesn't work. One long one is best.

3. EAT WELL!!! It is times like this where your body lets you know you're not eating the right stuff.

MP
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#13 Michael Nash

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Posted 12 November 2007 - 07:23 PM

It's like my body is trying to adapt and my brain is totally not having any of it.


That sounds like a lot of it. Just try to "get over it" -- it sounds like you're only stressing yourself out. Accept that it's an odd schedule and roll with it. It's only for a few weeks, not the rest of your life.

It also sounds like you're doing a "desk" job, not on set working physically. If that's the case then you definitely need to schedule some exercise.

If the winter blues and "SAD" start to get to you, see if you can incorporate a daylight lamp into your routine somewhere, especially in the earlier house of your "day" to help signal to your body it's time to wake up and become active.
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#14 Annie Wengenroth

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 06:14 PM

Well, go figure that after the first week, they decided ("they"=almighty forces of Production) that they might not be needing our crew after all and that we're now off until further notice. Awesome, so now I have to FIX my mostly-reversed internal clock (going out to the bars last night with friends did not help things...:sigh:) and start trying to see some daylight again. :rolleyes: Oh well, what can you do. I only hope we are compensated for whatever work we might've turned down for the next few weeks. So thank you all for your suggestions. To be honest, maybe this is a blessing in disguise? Anyway, I'm going back to bed! :P
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#15 Nick Mulder

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 07:13 PM

I am one of the weirdos who doesn't really have a problem with night shoots.


I'll put my hand up also ...

Every 'desk' job I've had has been night shift and my main source of income up to yesterday actually has been working in theatre where we work evenings and weeks ends in the dark all the time...

On a pack-in and then rehearsals for a big show (Mamma Mia! We Will Rock You etc...) we can do 7 day weeks 12~15 hour days - which leads to seeing the sun on our lunch break only... Painful on the body and the mental aspect hits others more than some, something about my upbringing/genes just lets me cope.

My father was a flight engineer on 747's and my mother an Air Hostess - constantly changing time-zones. New Zealand to London for instance flying West you get perpetual day and/or night...

Only just thought of that - interesting :lol:
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