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Post night shift commute

funkydisciplefunkydisciple Posts: 65
edited September 2019 in Road general

So, in my job i work 10hour shifts and towards the latter part of my working week i work 9pm-7am. I try to get as much sleep as I can during the day but having young kids makes that impossible. I love commuting to work on my bike and for a while I’ve always struggled to cycle home after a night shift that I’ve switched to commuting by car on my nights.

I’m just wondering if I’m missing a trick. I work in an office, so although I’m sat down all night it doesn’t help with trying to keep awake. Any of youse work night shifts and if so how do you get your body to work hard on the commute home.

I did try coffee once before my shift ended but once i got home on my bike it took me ages to nod off which then affected the second night shift.

Any advice? :)

Have a nice day.


  • fenixfenix Posts: 5,283
    How far is the commute ? TBH I'm fine with sleeping after bike rides or turbo sessions but maybe that's just me.

    You could just take it a little bit easier and you won't be as 'stimulated' when you get home.

    As for struggling - well if you only have the bike then you just have to ride back. Nobody ever regretted a bike ride.
  • You do half days and half nights in a single week? That's tough. I didn't used to mind working nights but changing back to daytime ish hours over the weekend was hard.
  • pilot_petepilot_pete Posts: 1,869
    edited September 2019
    I work constantly changing shifts, with no pattern whatsoever. These range from being out of bed at 03:30 for a 04:30 start through to a 22:00 start getting back at 07:30 the next morning. I can have any combination and work up to seven days on the trot.

    I have done this since the age of 18 and I’m now 52. My body clock is shot to pieces, as is everyone else who works in my job. We are supposedly protected by duty hour limitations, but these are so lax and in favour of the employers that fatigue is a genuine and growing issue.

    I once entertained the idea of cycle commuting, but quickly gave up on it as it would mean an hour ride (and another 15mins to shower, change etc) as opposed to a 25min drive. I would probably have to add a little bit of flex in there in case of a puncture etc. I want all the time in bed I can get when I have to be up at 03:30.

  • HI Fenix. Commute is just under 9 miles each way. I think it’s probably more mind games than anything else. I get absolutely knackered in work trying to stay awake and motivation comes hard after being up for nearly 20 hours. I really need to lose weight so i suppose i’ll Keep that in the back of my mind when i feel like bailing out.

    Mark, i do 7-5 for 4 days and then 2 night shifts. Following week i do 2 earlies and 4 nights. Been doing that for 2 and half years. I dont mind it. It’s just that I want to be cycling as much as i can but find it really hard to do it after a night shift. But, at least i get 4 days off after every set of shifts.

    Hey Pete. Waking up at 0330 must be really hard. I hear what you saying that its easier on the bike but thanksfully work isn’t too far for me and i want to be able to bike to work everyday but still, after all this time working there, trying to figure out the best way to still have the motivation and not be chronically fatigued before i start my bike ride home.
  • pilot_petepilot_pete Posts: 1,869
    Also think about the safety issue. My industry is very well versed in fatigue studies - if you’ve been up 20hrs and then cycle (or drive for that matter), your performance is detrimentally affected to a similar level as drinking 3-4 pints of beer, I kid you not! Be careful.

  • oxomanoxoman Posts: 7,522
    To the OP i have always the first swap from days to nights the hardest, however i found that the ride soon woke me up. I tended to only push myself on the last night and sometimes did extra miles as well. My commute was 11 miles each way i have recently changed job though and only do days on a rolling 4 on 4 off 12 hr shifts now with a distance of 13 miles each way. I feel for anyone that does a mid shift swap, used to do 4 on 4 off 2 days 2 nights, managed it for 3yrs before i wrote my car off through fatigue as i didn't ride then. Whatever you do listen to your body, it knows best.
    Too many bikes according to Mrs O.
  • 2wks back on my Sunday morning ride i bumped into a guy a few KM's from my house, as we rode along we realised we were heading out on the same route and we agreed to ride together. To cut along story short he was a Nurse that was riding home after his night shift, he works 3 x 12 hrs nights a week and he commutes on his bike as much as he can. His commute is about 60km with roughly 1000m of climbing as he worked in Lausanne and lived in the Jura, rather him that me...

    He said that the ride home was a great way of winding down after a long and challenging night shift (he nursed adolescents with learning difficulties) but he did admit that the ride to work was quite tough as he often had to ride to work without having had a great nights sleep...

    Either way qudos for anyone riding to work and/or working at night, a tough combo
  • andyrrandyrr Posts: 1,491
    I used to commute some times when working 12hr shifts : I'd make sure I had a decent sleep so that during the shift itself I didn't fall asleep unlike other colleagues. I did 4 x days, 2 days off then 4 x nights then 6 days off. I tended to cycle/drive 50% of my shifts thereby giving myself a chance to rest and a chance to take supplies in. My commute was 17.5miles each way.
  • slowbikeslowbike Posts: 8,478
    I think there's a distinction between mentally tired and physically tired.
    Office working generally means you get mentally tired - whilst that manifests itself in aching limbs, generally I find that after a wake up, they're fine - it's the mind that needs the rest.

    You can wake yourself up with cold water on the face - I've done that a few times before heading off.
    But be aware - as PP says - if you're fatigued - which is more likely if you've not got regular sleep patterns - then it will affect your riding - I have a country A road for a commute - but I can get off it at the beginning and the end - it's a bit slower, but with less traffic, much safer.

    Eitherway, if you're tired, I wouldn't push it hard - just ride tempo.
  • morstarmorstar Posts: 2,876
    Did about 2 or 3 years of nights with long shifts and lots of overtime in my 20's. Paid the bills when we weren't well off but by God I'm glad I don't do that anymore. I was permanently shattered with typically 4-5 hrs sleep.
    A colleague used to work all the overtime going and rode around 10-12 miles each way to work. Shortly after I moved onto days, he got wiped out on his bike and spent many many months in hospital as he had near fatal and very extensive injuries.
    I never found out the details of the crash so can't speculate as to cause but I do know I always worried about him riding as I knew how knackered I always was.
    I used to drive about 20 mins home with the seat bolt upright and the windows wound down regardless of weather all year round just to stay awake.
    I absolutely wouldn't fancy riding unless I had a nice short ride home on a quiet cycle path.
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