How to: Survive 12 hour Nursing Shifts

Updated: May 20

Working in a hospital is demanding, especially when you are trying to survive 12hr nursing shifts

Despite the ridiculous amount of research that shows how 12 hour shifts affect us negatively, most hospitals are not interested in adjusting our work schedule. Not only do 12 hour shifts leave us exhausted, but they also increase the chances of doing mistakes.

But hey, as the English say if you can’t beat them join them! So, let’s stop moaning about having to work long hours and find ways to keep ourselves energized throughout the shift.


5 Tips to Survive 12 hour Nursing Shifts


1. Get enough rest

I’m sure that your nursing manager is begging you to work extra hours. But keep in mind that working too much will lead to burnout.

It seems obvious but in reality, most nurses only sleep 5-6hrs per day. Lack of sleep will lead to fatigue, and fatigue has been linked to an increase in accidents. Getting 8hours of sleep will reduce the likelihood of doing mistakes and it will also allow your body to recover. So get your damn beauty sleep!

2. Stay hydrated

Our bodies consist of approximately 60% water, and research has indicated that a 2% drop in hydration can have an effect on your mood, increase fatigue and decrease alertness. So remember the next time you see a grumpy nurse offer her a glass of water!

Bonus fact: Get nicer skin and a healthy glow from staying hydrated <3

3. Power snacks

“We barely have time to pee, let alone eat properly!” I’ve heard this about a million times, and the truth is that nurse’s breaks are often short and interrupted. Many times, this leads to unhealthy snacking and eating that patient’s thank you cake instead of your lunch.

But in reality there’s a lot of quick and healthy power snacks that you could prepare.


4. Wear compression socks

Compression stockings will become your best friend. They encourage blood flow and reduce swelling, which is extremely helpful when you are standing up for long hours. Trust me once you try them, you won’t survive without them.

5. Exercise

It is no surprise that working as a nurse is physically demanding. Whether it is standing up for 12hours, pushing beds, lifting patients or chest compressions, nurses need to be fit! Engaging in regular exercises will not only keep your body in shape, but it will also help you prevent injuries at work.

How are you holding up with the long shifts? Or perhaps you’re one of the lucky ones that gets to work 6 hour shifts?


Send me a message on my Instagram Account Nurse.Miriana I’d love to learn more about your hospital ways 🙂 

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