Whose Sleep? Our Sleep!

During 5 years a previous employer I did a minimum of 1 sleep in a week, and towards the end of my time there I was doing 3 a week. I was paid £30 a night for this 8 hour window, which works out at £3.75 per hour. At the time I enjoyed it, the shift was 2-1 and in the community. Until the ruling last year I hadn’t given it much thought, this shows how much we just accept in this industry. Upon reflection it makes complete sense that we should be paid an hourly rate.

In recent years it has been recognised that sleep is vitally important for both our short term, and long term well-being. Within mental health services sleep hygiene is one of the core things people will work on. We are told that it is important to have a regular sleeping pattern, make your sleep environment comfortable for yourself, and to have a relaxing routine before going to sleep. Unless you consider writing up reports and completing MAR sheets relaxing then this is virtually impossible.

While doing sleep ins I would finish at 10pm and set my alarm for 6am. I have always had a difficult relationship with sleep since my childhood, and I had learned that, at I could survive on as little as 4 hours sleep a week. When finishing work you need time to unwind, I would often read a book and check the news. I’d been in work for 12 hours so I had to catch up with people too. I don’t think it’s possible for many workers to just drop off straight away, and when I look back the fact that we were only given 8 hours off time is ridiculous.

By midnight I would be trying to get to sleep which would give a total of 6 hours asleep. This mattress isn’t mine though, these aren’t my pillows, it’s quieter here compared to my home on a main road. Everything that has happened in the last 12 hour shift is still going through my head, and what about the stuff that will happen in tomorrow’s 10 hour day? It’s harder to switch off when you’re actually at work. 6….. 5…..4 hours until I need to wake up.

There might be a knock at the door at 12.30 as someone needs reassurance, of course not their fault and I am happy to provide this. My company would offer to pay for any disturbances, but you can’t claim for a 1 minute conversation. That conversation has disrupted your path to sleep though.

The next day comes, I am good to work, but by the end of the day I need my own bed and my own space. I loved the work and I loved the people, but would I do that again for £3.75 per hour? Would you?

Come out and Stand up to Mencap on October 27th


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