After three painful and arduous years of severe illness, pain, rejection, betrayal, confusion, searching, and uprooting our family, I had come to terms with the situation God had put me in; my wife had been healed and was recovering from cancer, and was given a teaching job at a Christian school almost 2,000 miles from home.  After an extended session of wrestling with God and dealing with past issues, I was back in youth ministry, albeit a volunteer position, until God told me otherwise.  I found a secular job with a meager salary, just barely enough money to pay the bills, trusting that God would provide.
     At first I was quite excited about my new job; not because of what I was actually doing, but WHEN I got to do it.  You see, I work the night shift; the OVERnight shift.  Third shift.  The "graveyard shift", 5 days a week.  I am a "night owl" by nature, regularly staying up well into the a.m. hours, only to curse the alarm clock and stumble around when it laughs at me at 7:30 a.m.  So when I found a job working from 11:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m., I thought it would be perfect.  As I get home and go to bed, Lisa goes to work.  When she gets home, I get up and we spend the evening together.  She goes to bed I work to work, and the cycle continues.  Sounds great, but I have slammed into a few problems that are keeping me from attaining any normalcy in my sleep pattern.

Problem #1:  Sunday Morning Church
     Like most Evangelical Christians, I observe the Lord's day on Sunday....MORNING.  The obvious problem with this is that after having worked all night Saturday night/Sunday morning, my body is ready to go home and go to bed.  More often that not I spend my Sunday morning doing laps around the lobby of the church, listening to the sermon through the P.A. system because if I sat in that comfy pew I would be snoring in 5 minutes flat.  So I get home and get to bed around 1:00, bet up around 9:30.  That gives me time to shower make my lunch spend a few minutes with my wife, then back to work.

Problem #2: Days off
     Most people enjoy sleeping in at least a little bit on their days off.  They spend their time catching up on shopping, household chores, or various errands that need to be done.  For me, a day off is actually an overnight off.  It's hard to vacuum or do anything that makes noise in the middle of the night when everyone else is asleep.  it does not help that I live on a second floor apartment with sleeping neighbors directly below.  Most of the world is asleep during my "day off", especially in this sleepy midwest town.  I can't even go to the gym to work out, guessed it... it is closed.  i have considered joining a 24 hour gym, but they are considerably more expensive that the good old YMCA.
     Because of this dilemma, I normally change my sleep pattern.  When I come home from work on the day before a day off, I don't go to sleep, but rather force myself to stay up until that night.  I usually get my two days off in succession, and they are quite frequently Saturday and Sunday, which means I can spend more time with my wife.  However, that means I get used to sleeping at night and being awake during the day.  So my first night back to work is always miserable because my body is ready for sleep, but I have a full night of work ahead of me.

Problem #3: day time activities
     Because most people sleep at night, they schedule their activities during the day.  I want to take part in those activities, I have to alter my sleep pattern yet again.  I meet with a local group of youth ministry workers once a month, usually around 10:00 in the morning.  By that time I am usually about 2.5 hours into my night of sleep, which means I either come home, take a 2 hour nap and go meet with the group, I stay up and meet with them, or I skip it altogether.  My church has VBS coming up soon and I will be the music director.  Our VBS meets in the late morning to the early afternoon, or as I call it, the middle of the night.  For that entire week my sleep pattern will be altered.  Then there are phone calls.  People often call me during the day when I an trying to sleep, without realizing that they are waking me up.  I could just turn my phone off, but I like to keep it on just in case my wife needs to call me, or in case of emergency.  By this time most people who would call me know that I sleep during the day and message me on Facebook, but there is always the errant wrong number.
   Our apartment is literally right next to the playground of the school at which my wife teaches.  There is only one small playground for all of the students to share, so each grade rotates recess time.  This means that almost all day long there are kids at recess; right outside my window.  Screaming.  Bouncing balls.  Arguing.  Crying.  Keeping me awake.

     If you have ever pulled an all nighter, you know how tired, cranky, and just overall miserable you get.  I usually pull at least two all nighters per week.  My sleep pattern is so erratic that sometimes I literally don't know if it's day or night.  My circadian rhythm is so out of whack that I am always fatigued and confused.  According to, there is actually a circadian rhythm disorder called "shift work sleep disorder".  Wikipedia, speaking on sleep disruption disorders, says:
            Disruption to rhythms in the longer term is believed to have 
            significant adverse health consequences on peripheral organs 
            outside the brain, particularly in the development or                   
            exacerbation of cardiovascular disease. The suppression of
            melatonin production associated with the disruption of the
            circadian rhythm may increase the risk of developing cancer.

     Due to all of this, I am beginning to fear for my overall health.  During any given 8 hour shift, I consume a gallon of caffeinated beverage; usually one 2 liter of soda, and one 2 liter of green tea.  That's a lot of caffeine!  But I need it to stay awake; my job involves accounting, paperwork, balancing the books, and closing the business day for my company.  This involves significant attention to detail, concentration and mental alacrity. 
     At the very least, I need to get a regular sleep pattern.  But how?  In view of all of the problems aforementioned, how do I get a regular, steady "night" of sleep?  Any and all comments and suggested welcomed. 
Trei Council

Hey pastor Mike. i haven't talked to you guys in a while. i like seeing what the Lord is doing in your life and am happy that he has at least blessed you with a job to support your family. i'm also very happy to know that Mrs. Lisa is doing well. your health could become an issue with this horrible sleeping pattern though. Anyways i enjoyed reading this because it shows that you're still very aware of how the Lord blesses and carries us even through the rough times in life. Mom says hi and let Mrs. Lisa know i asked about her. My mom and I will continue to keep you in our prayers and i hope that the Lord blesses you guys even more. love y'all!

Krista Johnson

I have been having the same issue for the past few years w/ sleeping. Although the reason for mine is medical and I also have a 9-5 job BUT sleeplessness is sleeplessness regardless. There were many many days where I would go several days in a row with no sleep at all. I have found the magic pill though to help me sleep and I rely on it most nights b/c as you probably remember I am a much nicer Krista to deal with when I have sleep vs no sleep....ha ha! I am taking Ambien and I love it. I never feel zoned the next day and I actually get sleep and sleep all night. 7 hrs a night is so much better than what I was getting. Also room darkening blinds would also help. Please give Lisa a hug for me and sending one to you too.

Dale F. Von Thun

I have no advice that will help you endure the night shift and feel great as a result. I could not handle it because of a lack of discipline in my sleeping pattern for one and it is not the way we are designed to live. I had to go to 3 to 11 shift and forget about a social and look for other ministry opportunities during the day.
No matter what you have to establish a sleep pattern and stick with it if you want to feel close to human. Sorry that's all I have to offer.


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