Day sleeping might be more difficult than working a graveyard shift. Police officers that work all night need to find creative ways to get some meaningful sleep during the day. Since our bodies thrive on consistency, the associated wear and tear on the body takes a toll. In a nutshell, day sleeping sucks. It is not unusual to suffer extreme headaches and other infirmities that result when you turn the clock upside down and your life inside out.
These are a few things that I practiced while trying to get a “good nights sleep” during the day.
Sleep mask and ear plugs. While it looks ridiculous, it is the result that matters. Foam plugs are the only ones that didn’t bother my ears for peaceful hours of sleep. When the lawn mowers and leaf blowers are buzzing the neighborhood in the “middle of your night,” something needs to be done … and I couldn’t shoot the gardeners.
Cover blinds. My wife wasn’t crazy about the olive-green-wool-military blanket that I’d pin to the wall covering our window shutters, but it simply wasn’t dark enough otherwise. I knew a few friends that lined their windows with tin foil to darken the room. But I simply opted for the wool blanket motif, although my wife made me take it down during my weekend . . . imagine that!
Sleep in a walk-in closet. This idea was actually the most effective for me. I placed a twin mattress on the floor in the walk-in-closet of our bedroom. Once the lights were out it seemed like night. The closet was cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It was easily the quietest place in the house. My department rotated schedules every four months in patrol, so I could sleep there 4-8 months at a time. I knew a guy who actually slept in his attic, weather permitting. Nevertheless, I never quite felt that desperate.
Play soothing sounds of nature in the background. This was a strange option for me. On occasion the soothing sound of surf on the shore would lull me to sleep, while other times it sounded like a hurricane.
Delay going to bed. Working the graveyard shift I’d get off work at 0800, and home by 0900 (Southern California traffic). When feasible, I’d try to delay going to bed until noon. If I was successful, that allowed me to sleep into the evening, and then return to work at 2200.
Reading. Mitch Rapp or Jack Ryan wouldn’t work for me as I’d get into the drama and my adrenaline would reignite. However, reading something educational seemed to do the trick. A few pages into a law review manual or compulsory work related material and I’d be out.
Side Bar: The freeways of California (and other climates not subject to snow) are lined with Botts Dots. These are round non-reflective raised pavement markers that delineate between lanes. They cause a rumple action when the vehicle drives over them. “I drove home by brail,” is something we’d jokingly say after traveling home, exhausted from working graveyard. Fortunately, the Botts Dots kept us in our lane. Honestly, I can say there were a number of occasions I literally do not remember driving 24 miles from the police department to my neighborhood. I would seemingly awake rounding the corner to my cul-de-sac.
Final Tip for Day Sleeping
Remind the kids not to bounce a ball against the house. While this might sound like I’m a “grumpy old man,” it’s not. Trying to sleep while the ball bounces against the house is like trying to snooze inside a drum. It’s not going to happen.
So those are my tips for day sleeping. What are yours?
– Jim McNeff
(Photo courtesy army.mil)