I'm a DJ and club promoter -synonymous with late nights and partying. But I like to think that I do pretty well at having relatively 'regular office hours' Monday to Friday...if you count a working day kicking off around 11am a normal day. Throw in a few late nights a couple of times a week for work (we're talking crawling to bed at 4am), much the same over the weekends to run my regular club nights, and you get the idea that my body clock is pretty much non-existent.
As humans we're built for routine and regular sleeping patterns, so although I love my job it does play havoc on my sense of wellbeing. Much like I expect it does with all shift workers. I've always tried to stay as healthy as possible by exercising and eating well and I certainly don't subscribe to the typical 'party' lifestyle DJs are usually made out to have - you will very rarely catch me in a club if it's not my own event! Having late nights was never a problem at 25, but as I approached 30, and beyond (I'm now 33), they started to really throw me out of balance.
I have a lot of friends who work in the music and entertainment industry and I know many of them feel the same way. To have unusual hours, whether it's working night shifts or just having lots of late nights socially, you need to be that rare breed that can survive on 5-6 hours sleep (which I, like most of us, am certainly not) or quite simply: you have to take really good care of yourself.
Easier said than done. If you try to install a routine and get a solid 8 hours sleep, this is unceremoniously thrown out of whack as soon as you have a late night. If I'm not in bed until 4am there is no way in hell I'll be up and about before 11am. Its spirals into a vicious cycle, because then in a very toddler-esque way, your not body declares 'no I'm not sleepy!' when you head to bed at a reasonable hour and you end up a half awake/half asleep zombie. Not a productive state to go to work in the next day!
Social life can be a problem too. Personally, I've missed various friend's birthdays and hen nights because I've had a huge event, which I just couldn't miss. Catching up with friends now means civilized meals during the week, because partying at the weekend outside of my own events is just not an option for me. And to be honest, I don't mind. I've learnt what my body can handle and what it can't, and my ideal night now is probably heading home early and clocking up some good sleeping hours.
Our sleeping patterns are intrinsically linked to our food too - you can absolutely forget 'normal' eating patterns when you work unusual hours. If I've been in a club for four hours the first thing I crave when I'm home is cheese on toast, even thought I know its not the most nutritious snack and that a 3.45am cheese feast is probably not what my gut wants to handle for the next few hours.
Lately I've really been experimenting with food to try and help with my energy levels. I've cut out bread and substituted that 'bulk' with a lot of oats, brown rice & vegetables. I've seen a difference, I definitely feel more nourished and I've noticed that even when I'm working a a late night I feel more 'on the ball' than usual.
Perhaps its an age thing too, I'm not in my twenties anymore and so I've been trying to do less 'late nights' (one a week instead of two). From speaking to my male friends, it seems they are able to cope better with late nights, which is interesting as there aren't anywhere near as many women in this industry as I think our bodies are more sensitive to lack of sleep.
I absolutely LOVE my job and it's something I see myself doing until I'm old and grey, but I know that in order to do that, I have to listen to my body and look after the me who is in the here and now. Old and grey Emily will thank me for it when she's still raving in the DJ booth!