The night shift has thrown my circadian rhythm for a loop and I’m struggling to sleep during the day.

Anyone who’s ever worked a night shift will tell you that it’s no picnic. It’s difficult to endure and it’s not for everybody. The physical strain alone is enough to separate the men from the boys, so to speak, but my biggest challenge over the past two years has been the daytime sleeping.

To say that my circadian rhythm has been thrown for a loop would be putting it mildly. To tell the truth – the plain truth, the crude truth – it’s FUBAR. I have become accustomed to a world of light. The sun shines when I’m trying to sleep and there’s not a curtain on this Earth that can shield me. In the twilight hours, I cook in a kitchen with downlights that wink like flickering candles, resilient against an errant breeze. And at night, when my husband and daughter are dreaming, my eyes are open, slaves to the fluorescence of the desk lamp, and glued to the computer screen.

I am something of a vampire. The bedroom is my chamber for rest during the day. The study is my playground for nightly pursuits. Though it’s more work than play. Actually, it’s all work and no play. The news, after all, is a serious business.

But there are pros and cons to this existence, as with any. The interrupted sleep cycle is the biggest drawback. I’ve also noticed a changed appetite and an increased desire for hot chocolate in the middle of the night. The pros? Seven hours of peaceful, productive work time. A quiet “office space” where I control the temperature of the room. A fully stocked kitchen at my disposal down the passage. And my personal favourite – the fact that I can “go to work” in my pyjamas because there’s nobody to see me. Sometimes it’s the simple pleasures that make life’s challenges more bearable.

The title of this post is borrowed from the lyrics of Daysleeper by REM.


Janine Papendorf likes coffee, chocolate and wine. Not necessarily in that order. She’s married to a nerdy biker and they’re raising Cape Town’s cleverest child. When she’s not building Lego castles or watching old movies, Janine likes to send words into cyberspace. She’s a freelance writer and content strategist based in South Africa’s beautiful Mother City. Witness her obsession with pink flowers on Instagram, or contact her to collaborate on a project.


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