Monday, December 28, 2009

It's Harder to Pull an All-Nighter When You're 30.

Ok, to be honest, I have pulled more all-nighters since college than I did while I was at college. Although I was quite the night-owl (my first semester I had my first class at 1:30pm three days a week so I generally went to bed around 4am) I was also a very strong supporter of sleep. So there were only a couple of times when I would stay up all night, walk bleary-eyed to a class to hand in a paper, and shuffle back to my bed.

But to actually stay up more than 30 hours... I think that's only ever happened after college. And besides an accidental trans-continental all-nighter (I was so excited for Europe I didn't sleep a wink) I think most of mine have, sadly, been work related. And of course that's why I've not been able to melt into bed a mere 25 hours after getting up last. Because you have to get through the whole next day--or at least until they have pity on you and let you go, usually around noon.

My first ever all-nighter was when I worked at an ad agency. I had been tasked with making multi-layered sheets to overlay on a map, and the sheets would highlight specific towns in Illinois. Great in theory, until I realized that in order to get the shapes of the towns, I would have to create separate shapes for each of them. Yes, I had to draw over each line. Twice. The ironic thing is I'd had a migraine earlier that day. Besides a quick run to the salad bar at the grocery store down the street, I'd spent the rest of the day curled up on my chair, wearing sunglasses against the glow of my computer screen, and keening softly (me, not the computer).

And then, suddently I got a second wind around 8pm, and pushed through to the next day. This was at a place where you had to write your name and the times you came in and out for the day, so it was super-fun trudging down in my yesterday clothes and writing "Still Here." I did manage to impress my boss though, which was lovely, and he let me go home as soon as the project was picked up at noon.

Lately I've had to pull work all-nighters about twice a year. I pull hours clocked in by associates in our stores, and fun as that sounds I won't tell you the details on how it all works. Suffice it to say, there are times when we have a shortened schedule (if you're getting paid this week on Thursday instead of Friday, you might want to thank your Payroll department 'cause they're probably on a shortened schedule too).  And during those times, we have 5 hours to do what normally takes us about 13. So we have to pull hours from the store as soon as possible so we can process the insanely-interesting algorithm that creates overtime pay.

Problem is, you can't pull hours from the store until everyone's done working for the night on Sunday. Because we're a restaurant. And we're open (some of them) on Sunday.

I hope I don't sound super bitter here though--I realized that we really only had two options if we were going to keep to our shortened schedule deadlines. Option #1: I could get to work at 4am, fully dressed yet full of sleep, eye crusties, and a desire to do anything but work methodically and with excellence. OR... Option #2: I could pull the hours at midnight, potentially doze for about 2 hours, then get in to the office at a more reasonable hour. Meanwhile, I can be wearing my pjs and watching movies while stuff processes.

Which one would you choose? (Yeah ok you morning people, you can just enjoy your crazy over there, ok? The rest of us will be wearing our pjs.)

The only wrinkle in the plan is when A) I bring home work to do while stuff processes, which can add time, and B) I don't actually get to have a nap beforehand because, even though I only got 5 hours of sleep Saturday night, I'm just not tired. Or C) I realize that I'm so very exhausted that if I even close my eyes for a minute I will end up sleeping through the night just like Julie did in Julie & Julia, and I will ruin my boeuf bourguinon. Or everyone's paychecks.

Yesterday was a type C sort of day. I got up officially at 9am although I was awake earlier. But we'll call it 9am. We went to church, my sister and I went through a pile of old games and puzzles my mom is trying to sort out, we watched Harry Potter #6 and then we came into the city to drive me home and go to dinner as a family. And then they all stayed so we could finish watching The Big Bang Theory Season 1, which I had received for Christmas and then forced them to watch since no one in my family had ever seen it. Heretics.

Anywhoo, that got me to 11pm, at which point a friend of mine was online so we chatted till 12:30 when I realized I had to actually start working. And work I did, until 7am. Then I took a shower and went to work. And ok, when I say I did not take any naps on Monday, I do admit that I did quite a few long blinks--you know, the kind of blink that actually predicates a mini-dream until you jerk your head up, wipe off the drool, and pray to God that you hadn't been talking out loud or snoring.

My boss let me leave at 1pm, bless her. And of course the very moment I was off the clock I was wide awake and chatty, and we talked for a good 15 minutes before I realized that I should really leave. And then I talked to the receptionist for a good few minutes... and then I had lunch, and then, finally at 3pm I came home, and called my bff. And we talked until dinner time, and then I put on a movie and made an attempt at an adapted recipe of pumpkin mousse pie (I'm still not sure how I feel about it, but then at this point I'm pretty impressed that I'm still able to string words together). And now, suddenly, it's 8:40pm. Which means that, once I finish this post and leap lurch from my chair to get into bed, I will have been awake for a full 36 hours. Oh. My. Goodness.

The trick really is to stay up though. If I had fallen asleep when I got home from work, I'd have awakened at 8pm in a pitch-dark apartment, freaked out that it was actually Tuesday morning and have a heart attack before I realized what time and day it really was... and then I'd be wide awake until 3am and get to work exhausted the next day.

My preferred method, however, is to push through the day and go to bed at 9pm, or whatever time will give you a solid 9-10 hours of sleep. This really will help balance it out. Or at least I hope so, becuase I do not need another exhausted day at work.

That being said, it's just about my bedtime. If you've actually made it to the end of this post, please leave a comment--how do you get through that all-nighter, and did you do more of them in college, or do you suddenly find yourself doing them now?

See ya on the flip side... hopefully. (Good thing I've already pre-set my Wit & Wisdom Wednesday post) :D


  1. It's been a long time since I've done an all-nighter, although in and ideal world I go to bed late, get up early and take a nice nap in the middle of the day. Writing-wise, I am at my best late at night, which is when I always wrote papers in college, as in the night before they were due. . . these days I try to follow a more normal schedule.

  2. soon as I got down to 11p I was thinking - I would have definitely gone to bed by this point!! No way I can stay up past 10/1030p anymore...sniffle, sniffle...

    Stopping by to say hi - from your newest follower!!



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