You’ve probably worked your share of double shifts at a hospital or care center, so you know the toll that 16 hours of straight work can take on anyone. Everyone has their own individual tips, tricks and coping mechanisms for managing late shifts. From the right work shoes to sleep routine advice, consider which of these might work for you.
1. Freshen up
Even if you’re only halfway through your shift, it’s amazing what a quick trip to freshen up in the restroom can do. Follow an abbreviated version of your morning routine: Wash your face, re-apply deodorant, touch up any makeup or brush your teeth. In 5 minutes, you can give yourself a huge mental and physical boost to carry you through the second half of your shift.
2. Wear the right footwear
A 16-hour shift means 16 hours on your feet. There are ways to mitigate your discomfort thanks to the variety of nursing shoes on the market. Fashion and comfort can go hand-in-hand if you find the right pair of slip-resistant shoes. You can look and feel good 16 hours straight.
3. Treat your body well
Spending 16 hours straight on call is taxing on the body, so you’ll want to treat yours as best as you can while you’re working. That means not fueling yourself with junk food or sugar, which is just going to end in a crash. Be smart about caffeine as well. While plenty of nurses, doctors and other professionals with long hours get by with the help of coffee, do your best to stay hydrated by drinking lots of water.
Treating your body well extends beyond your hours on the job. Exercise, a smart diet and other staples of a healthy lifestyle can help ensure that you’re at your best when those 16-hour shifts arrive. One of the most important factors in healthy living is a good night’s – or day’s – sleep.
4. Keep up on rest
Medscape assembled a quick-reference list of tips for nurses who work long shifts into the night. Keep fatigue to a minimum by:
- Using blackout shades in your bedroom
- Keeping your work area brightly lit whenever possible
- Sticking to your routine sleeping hours – don’t interrupt them for appointments or activities
- Trying not to eat large meals fewer than 4 hours before sleeping – the same goes for caffeine.
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