Two months ago, I was hired on as truck loader/unloader by a reputable and well-known company. The hours weren’t necessarily favorable, but I overlooked the downsides in what could have only been a denial of the truth at the time – clearly the risks outweighed the benefits. At first, I was really excited because the job was physically demanding and would provide me with an opportunity to stay fit while not requiring that I invest heavily in my time at the gym. But, eventually, what seemed to be a blessing in disguise, was just the result of an oversight that led to multiple medical uncertainties.
I was hired on a Friday Afternoon for a shift that began at 4 am the following Monday. The lack of time my body needed to adjust to the sudden changes came with an onslaught of physical calamities, starting with a reversed and shortened sleep schedule. It was hard to sleep during the daytime and, therefore, I would stay up after leaving work. Eventually, I felt as though I had become used to the routine and my body would allow me to sleep 4 hrs a night, only to wake up and do 7 hrs of physical labor inside of moldy trucks that would become increasingly hot as the day went on.
The second symptom to present itself came in the form of what seemed to be a sinus infection. I’ve always dealt with sinus infections annually and the more severe cases had seemed to be behind me, but what I experienced this time was more pressing. It rained a week straight in Atlanta so, I’d told myself it was the weather affecting my breathing, at first. Until, one day, while at home with my girlfriend, I experience a sudden panic attack. I was very short of breath yet, afraid to stand still. A ride in the car with the windows down seemed to be the only thing to reduce the hysteria.
I return to work the following morning and notice my breathing was still relatively shallow. I immediately tell my supervisor and make plans to leave. My stomach is bloated and has been since the day before. This makes breathing more difficult and my anxiety grows fiercely. While riding home, I began to feel my arms tingle to the point they feel slightly numb. I call my girlfriend as I panic more to the point my arms are almost completely useless. She picked me up from a parking lot, I went home, and slept for 12 hours.
Up until Saturday, I continued to sleep a minimum of 10 hrs each night. Sunday, my horrible sleep pattern returned. Throughout the entire week, I experienced bloating and shortness of breath sporadically throughout the day. There were days where I’d become very light headed and needed to refrain from spending time inside the steaming trucks. Throw in the fact that every day, I’d been eating complex carbs on a 30-minute lunch – these ingredients spelt a recipe for disaster.
By the end of the week, I was completely exhausted and my anxiety had grown worse. The pain I experienced in various parts of my chest and back only fueled my paranoia and fear that I could be experiencing a heart attack. Gatorade had become my best friend throughout my days inside the trucks, second to water which I also drank furiously (Effects of Too Much Gatorade). Physically, I felt confused. Mentally, I was weak. (Yes, you read that right)
In less than a week after I resigned from my overnight job, I completely feel like myself again. I’ve been able to breath full, deep breaths of air, I haven’t had any panic attacks, I’m no longer bloated, and I haven’t been light headed since. I sense that my body is still recovering from intense fatigue, as I’m sleeping like a rock at least 8 hrs every night. Ironically, I came across an article on Twitter about the effects of working overnight and it appears the symptoms Dr Mercola addressed in the article very much align with my experience.
This is my anecdotal experience from working a labor intensive overnight job. As always, if you experience any of the symptoms I mentioned in this article, it is always best to seek medical advice from a medical professional. But, for those of you who are considering a similar situation, I suggest you consider doing a cost-benefit analysis at the very least.