KATHMANDU, Sept 17: For those on the graveyard shift, work is not the only thing on their mind. When you start to leave behind the normal sleeping hours, stifling your yawns and fighting heavy lids is a norm.
“I worked for three years in two call centers, Serving Minds and Pixel Designs. You get used to working while the rest of the world is sleeping, but it’s not normal. I remember having to deal with so much work that sleep would be the last thing on my mind. But it’s natural to feel sleepy,” says Uma Nepali.
Now working as a teacher, the 23-year-old-continues, “During winters, we drank coffee to stay warm. It served to keep us awake and alert, too. Many of us took energy drinks, too. I remember drinking it every night before the start of my shift because that way I would feel energized. But I drank it only on days when I had to attend my college classes.”
It’s an entirely new world for novices. The buzz of activities and a whole lot of work waiting for them at odd hours can be too much to take in.
Suman Lamichhane, 25, didn’t take to the atmosphere of a call centre. He shares, “It was a torture for me to stay awake the whole night. That’s why I quit the job in less than three months. We drank a lot of coffee and cokes. I wasn’t a fan of energy drinks but many colleagues drank it regularly. In addition, most of them smoked marijuana and drank alcohol, too.”
Coffee is a known stimulant, and favored by all. The caffeine content in coffee ensures that we remain awake. Whether one drinks it strong and black, or with a generous helping of milk, it’s a very popular drink. Its taste and safety quotient being high, it’s the first choice of those looking to ward off drowsiness.
According to many pharmacists, there are no medicines available for the purpose of keeping sleep at bay. While drugs like Adrafinil and Amphetamine are said to result in experiencing wakefulness in the consumers, these are very harmful.
Users of Amphetamine, also known as ‘speed,’ will suffer from increased rate of heartbeats, insomnia, diarrhea and fever. If taken in high doses, it could also result in death.
Regular intake also increases chances of abusive dependence on Amphetamine. Adrafinil is said to cause liver damage, and hence, it’s deemed important to check the liver of the individuals who consume it on a regular basis. Such medicines are prescribed only to elderly patients with serious problems.
These medicines aren’t sold over the counter or without proper prescriptions by doctors. Dr Yubaraj Sharma, Associate Professor of the Department of Internal Medicine at Patan Academy of Health Sciences, advises, “Such medicines are very harmful if consumed for no reason. Since it’s illegal to sell such medicines, pharmacies won’t provide them to people even if they want to pay for it. Because the side effects are many, I would advise you to drink coffee if you want to stay awake for certain reasons.”
Speaking from five years of experience in Serving Minds, Binnie Mukhia, 24, says, “I would try and interact more with my customers. That would make me more awake. And I heard from someone that there was a medicine which can keep us awake, but I don’t know the name.”
Like they say, better safe than sorry. So ditching these harmful drugs, and keeping the ever faithful cup of coffee aside, what else do the night owls indulge in?
Abinash Shrestha, 22, who is in the midst of joining a new company, says, “Cigarettes, and plenty of it.”
“Titaura,” adds Binnie.