I worked the morning shift for 6 years before transitioning into my new role here in Austin. That's 6 years of my alarm going off at 1:45am. Now one would think you get used to it after awhile... but I can tell you, you don't. Your body never really gets used to waking up at that ugly hour. What really happens is you just learn to function on little sleep.
There are multiple sleep schedules when it comes to working the morning shift. Some TV anchors go for the normal 8 hour block of sleep which means they're in bed around 4pm-5pm. Others will go to bed right after they get off work and will sleep from 11am to 7pm... then get up, do their thing & go to work at 2am-3am. However, I found the 'split sleep' option to work best for me -- a 2-3 hour nap after work... then going back to bed around 7pm-8pm.
If I didn't get that midday nap, I would be an absolute zombie for the rest of the day. "Aren't you groggy when you wake up?" ... the truth is yes, there were times where I just wanted to sleep all the way through the afternoon, evening and night. But more often than not, I was able to power down for a couple hours then wake up with more energy to be a "normal human".
That being said, it took me a couple years to find that rhythm. I also, up until this past July, knew nothing different when it came to a work schedule. I started my career on mornings & continued on mornings for 4.5 years while in ABQ.
Fast forward to now. I'm on a different shift, fighting the same battle - how to be the most 'normal' with a wacky work schedule & weird sleeping options.
As of now, my schedule is supposed to run as follows:
-- MONDAY: off
-- TUESDAY: off
-- WEDNESDAY/THURSDAY/FRIDAY: late morning to early evening
-- SATURDAY/SUNDAY: early afternoon to late night. NBC's Sunday Night Football always pushes us really late.
I can tell you that in my 6 months of working here, that weekly schedule has happened twice. TWICE. Between coworkers taking vacation, unexpected trips, sick days and the news dept needing an extra body... I've been filling in wherever needed. (Note, this is not me complaining. There is always a bit of this expected when being the weekend meteorologist). But the problem was the team had been short-staffed for so long -- vacation days had built up. So once I jumped on-board, my schedule was turned upside down as I was plugging holes all over the place: mornings, nights, days, repeat in any order.
Because I'm scheduled to work a normal 9am-6pm shift during the week, I go to the gym in the morning as I always end up too tired to go after work. So that leaves me waking up at 5:30am to make the 6am workout class. But come weekends, I have to force my body to stay awake to be alert for the 10pm newscast (I usually end up staying up until midnight).
Bottom line, I'm forcing myself to be an early bird during the week and night owl on the weekends - which leaves me with a pretty jacked up sleeping schedule. Not only am adjusting what time I wake up & go to bed every few days - but also, after 6 years of splitting up my suggested 8 hours, I almost ALWAYS wake up once or twice in the early morning. Whether it's 1am or 6am, I consistently find myself waking up, staying awake for an hour then forcing myself to go back to sleep.
I'm not so much concerned about not getting enough sleep but more frustrated about the schedule wreaking havoc on my energy level. I feel like I can't keep or maintain the same kind of energy I had working mornings (which is crazy to think about). I slam just as much coffee on this weekend shift as I did waking up at 2am working mornings. I don't understand it.
I try to talk myself into thinking "I'm only 6 months in - it'll take time to figure this out." But in the meantime, I continue to struggle with this impossible work vs life balance... so bear with me. Between the multiple cups of coffee, dark eye circles & pseudo-midday naps, I'm bound to figure out a new rhythm eventually. Right?! *panicked look*