September 21, 2018, 1:46 AM · Hello. I've been having a problem in my music life recently. I work a full time night shift (between 10pm and 6am) 5 nights a week and have done for almost two years. I am motivated to practise but am generally too tired to stick to the plan I have laid out for myself. Does anyone have any suggestions to combat this?

Thanks in advance.

Replies (4)

September 21, 2018, 2:20 AM · Oh boy Jake do I have a reel for you!

I have worked full time nights for the last 3 years - 22:00-06:30, M-F (Sunday to Thursday). During this time I was *also* a full time student completing my Bachelor of Arts in Music.

I finished my last course in April, and oh man was that a relief!

After 3 years of getting on average 3-4 hours of sleep a day during the semester, I feel like a million bucks now that I get 6+ most days. This left me with a lot of energy, so of course I immediately went about getting as many things as I could to fill my time back up.

But that doesn't answer your question. This just establishes that I can fundamentally relate to you.

Before I can answer your question, I need you to answer mine! Why are you so tired? Do you sleep enough? What are you doing to fill your time? Are you eating enough and exercising to combat your fatigue?

My answer will depend on those answers - If the root of your problem is that you're too drained to practice, then that's the real problem we need to solve.

I'm happy to give life advice to someone in a similar situation!

September 21, 2018, 4:50 PM · Years ago, I worked in a hospital on a night shift from 8:00PM to 8:00AM, and had similar issues. I could almost, but not quite completely invert my schedule. I found that my least productive time was getting home from work in the AM - I had breakfast, a nightcap, and went to bed. My best hours at home were after awakening, having dinner, and before going to work. I'd suggest practicing just before leaving for work. It's difficult on weekends to keep the night schedule, so try shifting "half way back" by getting up "early" (mid-day) on weekends, and practice whenever you feel rested. I agree it's tough - hopefully a day schedule will eventually present itself. Good luck, and congratulations for your dedication to music.

September 22, 2018, 1:30 PM · That schedule is tough. It's not your fault that it is difficult to fit a decent practice hour into that. Maybe try to have a nap before a practice session. I once had a performing/restaurant job 8pm-1am every night. Another time I had a med. lab. job midnight-8 am. Not much effective practicing time happened then. The best times for practice are probably morning and evening, no matter what your work schedule is.
September 22, 2018, 3:42 PM · Hi Jake,

Being out-of-phase with the rest of the world is difficult. But, having this as a regular shift isn't hard unless you try to join the rest of the world on weekends and then back to work schedule on weekdays. You are in constant jet-lag shuttling back and forth halfway around the globe.

I, like many others, worked out-of-synch schedules in my younger days and learned to establish a fairly fixed (almost rigid) schedule.

The big decision is to you stay up after work, or go straight to sleep. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, particularly when you want to interact with "regular" people. Going to bed directly after work gives you some hours in the day when most people are finishing their work day and relaxing post work but you have a hard-stop around 9:PM. Staying up after work and then getting to sleep around 3:PM means that most other people are working while you are relaxing after work.

Pick your schedule, stick to it, and then carve out some music practice time. Your teacher might actually appreciate a student that isn't late afternoon to early evening.

Of course, to survive, you need to maintain that schedule on weekends as well otherwise you get slammed with jet lag big time.

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