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Top 10 tips for nurses to survive a 12-hour shift

During her 12-hour shift, a nurse takes a break to lie down and read a book

10 tips for nurses to make it through a 12-hour shift

Nursing is both a challenging and rewarding career. Working nonstop for 12 hours may seem tedious to the average person, but for nurses, it is simply another day at the workplace.
Though nurses have become used to this kind of set-up, sleep deprivation and fatigue could be detrimental both to the nurses' health and the safety of the patients they treat.

Here are the top 10 tips for nurses working a 12-hour shift.

1. Get enough sleep
Get adequate rest prior to your 12-hour shift, whether it is a day or night shift.
A common consequence of the 12-hour shift is sleep deprivation. Obesity and diabetes have been linked to chronic sleep deprivation. Additionally, it may influence levels of leptin, ghrelin, thyroid-stimulating hormone, and cortisol. Most adults require between 6.5 and 9 hours of sleep per night to avoid carbohydrate cravings, overeating, and/or an increase in appetite.
2. Get prepared
Never wait until the eleventh hour to press your uniform, pack your bag, or prepare food or snacks to bring to work. Thus, you will not feel anxious as you prepare for a 12-hour shift. Place your badge, pens, watch, keys, and water bottle in your nurse bag, and fill up your gas tank. In addition, planning ahead enables you to beat traffic and arrive on time at the hospital. This permits you to review your patient list prior to submitting a report. 
3. Plan your shift and manage your time
As nurses, when you start your work, you will be mostly preoccupied with one or more tasks, especially if you work the day shift. Plan out what your shift will look like, identify your responsibilities, and use checklists to keep track of your tasks. Filling your cart with sufficient supplies, having essential items on hand, preparing your medications, and charting throughout your shift will save you time.
Group tasks together, establish priorities, set reminders or alarms as necessary, and communicate with team members in advance to avoid time lost due to miscommunication. Changes in plans are a normal part of the job, so maintain adaptability! Roll with the punches and return to your list as soon as you can.
4. Stay organised
The hectic 12-hour shift is enough to go haywire if you're not organised. The messier your workspace is, the more time will be spent searching for items. In addition, it is easier to forget minor tasks after handling an emergency call. Maintaining order will provide you with a sense of stability, making it easier to deal with unanticipated events. Even if your work is unpredictable, making these adjustments will allow you to successfully complete your 12-hour shift.
5. Don't skip meals
Maintain a healthy diet despite your crazy routine by keeping a supply of pre-packaged meal replacements in your break room. Even if you can't take a real lunch break, at least you'll have something good to fall back on. Additionally, keep some healthy snacks on hand if work hours are lengthy. You will likely become irritable or angry if you are hungry for an extended period of time. Therefore, grab at least a couple of snacks so that you can complete your work.
6. Stay busy and be a team player
A 12-hour shift for nurses can either be very busy or too slow. There will be shifts where each minute feels like an eternity. Therefore, it is preferable to remain busy throughout the shift as opposed to staring at white walls for hours.
It is especially true for night shifts because nurses working at night are often less busy than those during the day. If you have less work, ask a superior or co-worker for assistance with their tasks. This action could help you build better relationships with your co-workers and win you points with your bosses.
7. Keep your body safe and healthy
With a physically taxing job, it's essential to use proper body mechanics and resources such as mechanical lifts to protect your back. Stretching for a few minutes per day helps to maintain joint and muscle flexibility.
Don't endanger your health or safety to complete a task more quickly. Ask for assistance or take the time to perform a task properly to avoid injury. Prioritizing your health will assist you in surviving a 12-hour shift. Movements and exercise will help you strengthen your immune system and maintain strengthen.
8. Stay hydrated
Let’s get it straight―dehydration is the last thing you want at the end of your 12-hour shift.
If you don't drink enough fluids, you may experience signs and symptoms of dehydration, such as light-headedness, dizziness, and nausea. The body requires fluids in the form of water or other beverages, including juice, milk, and others. To function properly during their 12-hour shift, nurses must stay hydrated. Consider your caffeine consumption. Caffeine can be useful at times, but too much of it can cause insomnia, anxiety, and dizziness.
9. Dress for comfort
Most healthcare facilities provide uniforms for their nurses, while others may permit you to wear casual attire provided you adhere to the dress code. In both instances, it is recommended that nurses wear clothing that facilitates movement during their 12-hour shift. Furthermore, nurses are known to walk miles over the course of a 12-hour shift, causing their feet and joints to suffer from prolonged exposure to hard floors. Invest in the proper footwear to prevent aching feet, such as those that are comfortable, supportive, and lightweight. To promote healthy blood flow and circulation, compression socks can also be worn.
10. Take breaks
Stepping away from the work to take a break is a must, especially when you are working for long hours, especially for nurses working a 12-hour shift. Use the facility's break room or other staff rest areas to regroup and reenergize. To alleviate the monotony of a 12-hour shift, perform some quick stretches, take a walk outside for some fresh air and sunlight, watch a humorous video, or speak with a co-worker. These breaks help you catch your breath and are well-deserved.
To provide the best possible care for your patients, you must take care of yourself physically and mentally by preparing to be as productive as possible before, during, and after your shift.
A 12-hour shift can be physically and mentally draining for nurses. Therefore, try the aforementioned tips to help you endure the 12-hour shift and thoroughly enjoy it.
If you are interested in having more freedom and flexibility in your career as a nurse, you should visit the Nurses Group website. Nurses Group offers our nursing and healthcare professionals the finest healthcare facilities in which to work and gain experience.

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