This very honest account from a local radio host, who for decades was part of a hugely successful morning team, really hit home with me. Although I have not struggled with addiction (if you don’t count Excedrin or sugar), I do understand what it’s like to have to get up at 3 AM every day and try to make yourself go to sleep at 7 or 8 PM.
Unlike this guy, I could never take Excedrin PM or anything like it because I would feel like a zombie in the morning. I took Ambien ONCE when I was on KDWN and living on two hours’ sleep a night. My doctor prescribed it. I took it at Noon, figuring that I’d have 15 hours to sleep it off before I had to wake up.
When my husband came home from work at 5 PM, I was asleep in the den. My FIVE dogs, (four over 70 pounds), barked like crazy when Daddy came home, and I NEVER woke up. That was terrifying. I never took it again.
Don’t get me wrong: I was always wide awake at 3 AM, ready to take on the world. That part you get used to, believe it or not. Most days I was up before my alarm clock. What’s tougher is trying to force yourself to sleep when your body isn’t ready. You feel like an 8 year old kid ALL the time…”gotta got to bed…gotta go to bed…”. And it really sucks in the summer, when it doesn’t get dark (or nice outside) until 8 PM. You want to tell everyone, “Shut UP, I need to go to bed!”
You spend your days doing nothing but looking for a nap. And you can’t get mad at anyone who’s mowing grass or making any other noise at 2 PM, just because it’s YOUR nap time. I used to be a complete zombie between 11 AM and at least 1 PM. (You can ask anyone who called me). I had to leave a couple of Boards I was on because I couldn’t stay awake during meetings.
Business lunches are out because you’re falling asleep, and dinners or evening events after 6 are out, because you “gotta got to bed”, and if you stay out, you can’t wind down when you get home. I emceed some evening events, but I was always on one or two hours’ sleep the next day. I had to weigh whether the event was worth the lack of sleep.
If you don’t nap, and your spouse works normal hours, you are a cranky jerk when they come home. And it’s not good for your marriage to be in your PAJAMAS headed for bed (to sleep) every night when they walk in the door. So you NEED to get that nap in, but then it makes is harder to get back to sleep.
It honestly feels like every 12 hours you’re back in bed.
Throw in the demands of station appearances in your “off time”, and I can certainly understand how a host could get into deep trouble, just trying to feel normal.
I can’t even imagine doing AM drive and trying to raise kids.
People who have never worked what is essentially a graveyard shift have no idea what it’s like. They say really helpful things, like, “But you have the WHOLE day, to do anything you want!” (All I WANT is to sleep).
Weekends? Not much better. You wake up hours earlier than your spouse, even if you’d like to sleep in, and of course you’re nodding off by 8. There’s a Big Night Out!
Experts say you should stay on the same schedule to keep your body used to it, but that’s tough unless you never want to go anywhere or do anything.
This isn’t to meant to sound whiny, because I had many great years on air in mornings and I thoroughly enjoyed it, but just to tell you that I totally sympathize with this host, who had the added pressure of being number 1 for decades. Money can buy you anything but sleep.