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8 Ways Nurses Can Stay Healthy During Long Shifts

8 Ways Nurses Can Stay Healthy During Long Shifts

Photo of Greta

by Greta Kviklyte

Life Saver, AMC
Co-authored by Kim Murray, RN, M.S.

posted on Sep 11, 2015, at 9:43 pm


NURSES WORKING SHIFTS of ten hours or longer are up to two and a half times more likely to experience burnout, job dissatisfaction and fatigue. (source: nih study)

Traditional eight-hour shifts for hospital nurses are increasing as modern day shifts reach up to twelve-hours. This poses both advantages and disadvantages to the nurses. Longer shifts typically mean less days of the week worked (a 3-day work week does sound pretty nice, right?) resulting in greater flexibility and work-life balance. On the other hand, nurses working these strenuous shifts are potentially more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors just to get them through the shift.

Nurse Safety and Health During Long Shifts

The human body’s “biological clock” controls several physiological functions such as metabolic and cardiovascular systems.

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 15 million American work full time on evening, night, rotating, or otherwise “irregular” shifts.
  • According to the 2010 U.S National Health Interview Data, 19 percent work 48 hours or more weekly, and 7 percent work 60 hours or more weekly (both reported by CDC)
  • According to The Globe and Mail, studies have shown that those who routinely go against this “biological clock” and natural sleep cycle have higher risks of developing life-threatening conditions such as cancer, diabetes, mental-health disorders and heart disease. These health risks have proven to affect those who work both long, late night shifts and even those who work overnight shifts.

infographic describing eight things nurses can do to stay healthy

Nurses who work odd hours have a more difficult time eating healthy meals, getting enough sleep and getting adequate exercise.

As a nurse, you spend a massive amount of time at the hospital or healthcare facility. It’s important to keep healthy habits both in and out of the “office”.

There are several things you can do to stay healthy; we simply cannot list them all! Here are a few of our favorites!

1. Meal prep!
2. Bring your own snacks
3. Cut back on caffeine
3. Eat more throughout your shift
5. Take the stairs and walk more
6. Drink enough fluids
7. Eat at the same time, everyday!
8. Get more sleep!

For further descriptions and examples for nurses working long shifts, we’ve created the infographic below to help nurses implement better health practices into their career. Check it out to the right. (click to enlarge)

Comment below: How do you stay healthy at work?

About Greta

Greta is a dedicated life saver and a distinguished expert in the field of medical content creation and editing. Her impressive array of certifications in ACLS, CPR, PALS, and BLS underscores her commitment to excellence in the medical field. With over four years of invaluable experience in medical education, Greta plays an indispensable role within the Advanced Medical Certification team, shaping the way healthcare professionals around the world acquire and apply vital knowledge.

Greta's profound expertise serves as the driving force behind the development and distribution of medical content that has significantly enhanced the capabilities of countless healthcare practitioners across the globe.

In addition to her medical qualifications, Greta holds a prestigious academic distinction in Marketing and Global Business from Vilnius University. Her academic journey has been enriched by immersive studies in Slovakia and Portugal during her time as an exchange student, providing her with a global perspective that complements her medical expertise.

Beyond her professional commitments, Greta possesses a genuine passion for global exploration, with a particular focus on immersing herself in diverse cultures and appreciating the intricacies of the natural world. While residing in Vilnius, Lithuania, she continues to make substantial contributions to the field of medical education, leaving an indelible mark on the sector.

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