There is something about the end of a set of nights, a heady euphoria resulting from the combination of sleep deprivation and sunlight shining in sun-starved eyes. It’s partly satisfaction, partly relief, and partly a penchant for freedom. It makes even a grey day a masterpiece and brings a smile to the face and a tear to the eye.*
There are bad bits too. The drive home, the buzz at the edge of your consciousness that warns you that your reflexes are impaired, your thinking is slowed, that you are at risk. Getting home to eat and trying to decide how to pay your dues – do you build the sleep-debt, make a 30-hour stint of it? I went shopping for dinner at the end of a run like that once and came home with 2 loaves of bread, 3 bags of apples, some squash and no dinner. Do you sleep away a couple of hours, but feel terrible for the remainder of the day? Or do you pay your debt to dreamland, acknowledging that you shall not sleep that evening? I’ve tried them all. There’s no right answer.
Ignore it. Worries are not the point of the post-nights experience. To walk out of the hospital at the end of a set of nights, during which you have had no life other than to eat, sleep, eat, work, is to cut yourself loose for a time. Be free of your work, take some time. Your sleep debt justifies almost any indulgence. There is, literally and figuratively, never a more appropriate time to seize the day.
*primarily because after 13 hours in the relative dark, simple daylight is painful to behold and squinting makes you grimace.