Night shift blues and PCOS?

Nurses General Nursing


I have been on the night shift for two years and was doing really well until the last 3 months. I am now really struggling. I sleep sound for 11-12 hours at a time. I have tried getting up with an alarm, but I just hit snooze for hours without even knowing. I have low energy, crave starchy food and sweets, my mentrual cycle ranges from 30-75 days in length and I am so moody!! I feel like a sleep walker when awake.

My poor husband has to deal with me being so crabby, I yell at him for the most minor things. I used to be such a positive person with inner peace and happiness. Now I feel very "bummed" out. The things I love to do like hobbies are barely interesting me lately. Although every so often I feel I am back to normal again, then 2 hours later I am back to feeling down and lousy.

As a nurse, I wonder about depression, seasonal affective disorder, and every other problem in the mental health books. I am not in mental health nursing so but I am starting to feel like a hypochondriac.

I also went to see a physician and they did some tests. They found my hormone levels to indicate Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS. I think they found the estrogen and progesterone to be off.

I wonder if it is just the night shift that is causing this? I am getting off the night shift in a week. Do you think I will get back to normal when I am off the night shift? I worry that my body is forever changed.

Has anyone else been diagnosed with PCOS?

Please respond if anyone has any feedback, similar situations, or suggestions.



25 Posts

Hi Reg,

I'm so sorry you are having such a hard time. I think that some of your symptoms should lessen when you change to day. Of course, living up in Minnesota, I can definitely understand your SAD. That is for the precise reason I moved down to Florida...couldn't take the New York Winters.

I don't think that you are a hypochondriac. I think that when you are back on days you should definitely check out the gyn problem you are experiencing, I'm sure that is a big hassle with the hormone levels being off.

Hope everything works out.



20 Posts

Thanks for the reply IWANT2BANURSE!!!


37 Posts

I've always admired the people who could work night shift for decades! It seems to agree with some better than others. I decided long ago that working through the night was too hard on me. I was always tired and my life seemed to be centered on getting enough sleep. Even recently, working home health and hospice, if I had to go out occasionally during the night, I would be days getting over it. Maybe some of us have a stronger circadian rhythm (I think that's the correct term). Of course, don't underestimate those hormonal problems. Good luck, hope you feel better soon.


186 Posts

reg06, one of my best friends was diagnosed with PCOS. Her doctor put her on oral glucophage and she has regained a lot of energy and her menstrual cycles have regulated again. I know she really struggled with it for awhile but is doing so much better now. I wish you the best for as positive an outcome! Shannon


"The highest reward for man's toil is not what he gets for it, but what he becomes by it."-Johan Ruskin


20 Posts

Ginger, thanks for your reply.

I was tested with a fasting glucose and insulin and it turned out normal, and this was through the lab. After getting the results of my lab tests, I never talked to the Dr and nurse practitioner about any further steps to take. I have been wanting to call and find out, but of course when I wake up, the clinics have closed, so I keep putting it off.

Do they do anything else besides glucophage or putting you on the pill? It looks like I am not a candidate for glucophage.

Thanks for the information, I hope to hear more from you!


Wow - you MUST really have a good doctor! I have been in contact with a lot of other women with PCOS and it seems to be difficult (for whatever reason) for us to get doctors to order insulin levels checked. That's great.

All of my GTT's have come back within the normal range also. But, even though they are normal #s, the pattern of the "spike" is not. My glucose level never went as high as they anticipated it, and the final draw was always lower than where I started after fasting. This explained the "crashes" I experience, even though everything appeared normal number-wise. I am not on glucophage, because I tend to shy away from meds if I can keep from them. The GI side effects sound like a little more than I care to deal with. I am attempting to control my symptoms with diet and exercise. If you do a web search, you will see that low-carb diets are really encouraged for PCOSers. It seems that if we keep glucose and insulin levels somewhat constant, it really helps with the hypoglycemic and "moodiness" issues. I am not sure if you have any other symptoms, but the Pill is also encouraged to regulate your period and may help with acne, hairloss, and facial hair, if those are problems. Spironolactone (not sure if I spelled that right) is sometimes prescribed for hair also. Other then that, there isn't really any treatment. There are studies being conducted all the time to try to formulate a more effective treatment.

My doctor referred me to a dietician who worked with me to set up a diet plan. I have a lot of weight to lose, but at this point my primary concern is keeping the hypoglycemia in check. It doesn't work out too well with 2 small children and school full-time, when you feel like you're on the verge of passing out or needing to sleep for 15 hours a day! wink.gif Basically, I try to keep carbs to less than 50 grams for each of 3 meals, and fill in with high protein snacks. It is also important for me to have a protein to balance my carbs in meals.

If you'd like more info, just let me know. Since this syndrome effects everyone differently, I try not to make blanket statements about what would help, but am happy to offer my experiences.

Take care!



I was diagnosed with PCOS 5 1/2 years ago, after trying to figure out what in the heck was wrong with me for almost 10 years. What you are experiencing sounds EXACTLY like me. PCOS is a very common (approx. 1/10 women), but often times misunderstood syndrome. It is rooted in the endocrine system, and is not exclusively a gynecological problem. There has been a recent (3-5 years) surge in research and interest in PCOS on behalf of the medical community, and so far it seems that it may be genetic and is based on a problem with insulin production and efficiency. When you say "Although every so often I feel I am back to normal again, then 2 hours later I am back to feeling down and lousy again", you may be describing what I experience. Basically, I eat (carbohydrates are the culprit) and feel better (glucose rises) but there is too much insulin and the receptors do not work properly, therefore the glucose crashes lower than where it was before I started (approx. 2 hrs. later!). If you think this sounds like Type II diabetes, it is many times a precursor, that's why it's important to learn about and treat it ASAP. Please, please do a web search on PCOS, you will be surprised how much your story mirrors a lot of others. is a great place to start.

Often times symptoms of PCOS include weight problems, hirsuitism, male-pattern hair loss, acne, and menstrual irregularities/infertility, so unfortunately it is dismissed as a "cosmetic problem." It sounds like you have a good doc, since s/he knew to check for it. It took me years and several docs before it was figured out.

Your working nights does not help your fatigue, but is most likely not the exclusive cause. You are certainly not a hypochondriac and this is not a mental disorder. Please contact me if I can give you any more information and/or support. I hope I don't sound like a commercial spokesperson or something, LOL, it's just that I went so long knowing something was wrong and no one would listen, so I want to be there for others going through it.

By the way, I am a only a student now, but I am an older one (26). I got married and had my kids before I decided what I wanted to be when I grew up. LOL

Hope this helps. Good luck!!!



20 Posts

Thanks again for more information. I am going to definitely cut down on my carbohydrate intake and look into diets that will help me feel more energetic. It is true that I do eat a very high carbo diet,

Have you ever used fructose instead of sugar? Supposedly, fructose does not give you an insulin burst and then the "low" from hypoglycemia.

As for symptoms, I definitely have started to develop more hair on my chin then ever before. Enough that I went and got electrolisis! How fun. Not!


2 Posts

Having worked the night shift for two years I would suggest you check your

HGB. I ended up with an H&H 7/21. The doc called me after a cbc for an or

program I was going into and said I needed two units of RBC's stat.

I had a big weight loss and sores at the corner of my mouht that wouldn't heal. Not to mention the broom I road all the time. It was awful. I had not clue about dietary anemia. You become anorexic. I would bet you are anemic. I don't know howpeople work the noc shift. Never again for me.

Call is different you don't do it all the time.


601 Posts or .net has a wonderful support forum for women with PCO. It was started by a woman who is the weather anchor for CNN, who had severe PCO.

Best wishes!



2 Posts

Hi!! I also have PCOS and have had 3 m/c's associated with it (that's what I am told anyways).....I do work nights and love it...i would not have it any other way.....As far as the PCOS, I would definately see a reproductive endocrinologist if you are planning on having any children (that is, if inferility is a problem)....or just a regular endocrinologist to check it out......

Working nights does make you tired more often, I have found that out after working a dayturn here and there.....PCOS can also cause depression esp if you are and exercise are also a good way to keep yourself from becoming diabetic, if you're not already....I wish you all the luck in the world and please...keep your chin up :)

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