Is it normal to be this exhausted after a 12 hr shift?

  1. I was hoping to get some feedback from other floor nurses. I work 3 12's (usually in a row) and I feel like I'm going to collapse after just 8hrs on the floor! I usually get a break, I change shoes halfway through my shift, wear compression stockings, eat well and stay hydrated. Still, I get home at night and it's all I can do to get myself in the tub and off to bed! It scares me how debilitated I feel, and I am in SO much pain - I ache all over. I can barely drive myself home, and I am on dayshift. It takes me at least two days to recover. My first day off I can barely get out of bed. I do make the effort to exercise on my days off. I do take care of myself - eat right, exercise, adequate sleep, good social supports....I like my job and coworkers and I don't want to find another one. I am just struggling physically. Does anyone else have this problem? How do you manage?
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  2. 21 Comments

  3. by   MIA-RN1
    I don't work 12's (yet) but I work five 8-hour shifts a week and if I do more than 2 or 3 in row (which is often) I start to feel the same. In my case, its my fibromyalgia which flares up when I don't get enough rest. I get the body aches, exhaustion, headaches, and pain in specific areas relating to FM. Plus I have arthritis now definietly in my hand and possibly in my hips too, I fear.
    What do I do? Sleep as often as I can, excuse myself from being the perfect housewife, eat as well as I can and exercise to my limits, which on somedays is around the house and other times around the mall.
    I am actually looking forward to December, when I've been approved to start working 3 12-hour shifts. I think they will help me immensely. But I will not do them back to back unless its my one mandatory Sat-Sun per schedule. That might help you as well, to split them up, take a couple days between shifts.
  4. by   santhony44
    Have you had a good physical exam lately to be sure that there's not a medical reason why you're so tired? That would be a good place to start.
  5. by   tkhayman
    In response, yes i too have been exhausted after working not 3 12hrs but just 2. The worst was 2 12hrs with only 1 day off and another 2 12hrs. I attribute it to the day shift of constantly running around and your body producing all the adrenaline,plus no matter what shoes you wear those concrete floors are though. That is why i am now only choosing to work 2 12hr shift per week and do another 8 hr PD elsewhere. I hope this helps. I do think you are doing a good job taking care of yourself, which most nurses (like myself do not).
  6. by   Quailfeathers
    I'm a student at the moment, so I don't have experience with 12hr shift work yet, however, aside from diet, exercise, relaxing, etc. are you faithfully taking a GOOD multivitamin?
  7. by   MarySunshine
    Wow, that's REALLY tired. I get tired myself -- I just feel like sitting around and watching TV but I'm not quite as bad off as you describe. How long have you been doing this? Jogging is hard when you first start but then it gets easier. Is it possible that your body just needs some time to get in the right physical shape for this type of job? If you've been doing this for a while that's a moot point. Will they let you stick to 8 hour shifts only?
  8. by   blaaveispiken
    It scares me how debilitated I feel, and I am in SO much pain - I ache all over. I can barely drive myself home, and I am on dayshift. It takes me at least two days to recover. My first day off I can barely get out of bed.
    Hi Zias,

    I so feel for you -- this sounds so much like a felt several years ago now. I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. I tried EVERYTHING!! New diet, more sleep, exercise, more vitamins -- nothing really worked.

    All along I suspected the problem was with a tooth that I'd had a root canal done -- it was only after that root canal that I had all those symptoms. I finally found a dentist who believed me (he refuses to do root canals because of all the potential problems) and sent me to an endodontist who found infection after removing the crown. The dentist who did the root canal had missed a canal and it was full of infection. My body was battling a low-grade infection all those years!! The tooth was completely removed and I now have a bridge in place. I have never had any of those symptoms since! Just wanted to share this with you -- it might be worth looking into if you've had a root canal done within the past year or so.

    Hope you feel better soon!!
  9. by   gonzo1
    12 hour shifts are very tiring. All the literature I've read states you should not do more than 2 in a row. Unfortunately where I work we have to do 3 in a row every other weekend. Most of the people I have talked to say they go home and crash for a day after these marathons. I know I do. Still I love my 12s. On the days I work I do nothing but eat, sleep, shower and work. There is no time or energy for anything else.
    Get a good check up and then relax and give yourself permission to not be superwoman.
  10. by   lannisz
    It's interesting that some of you mentioned fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. My doc has referred me twice to a rheumatologist and I haven't gone...because I start feeling better. I saw my doc today and she said she wants me to the rheumatologist next week. OK,OK I'll go already - even if I feel fine! I am used to doing 10 hr shifts, but recently switched specialty/hospitals and we do 12's. But truthfully I felt bad on the shorter shifts too, just not this bad. I was just was wondering if all the running around involved with our job takes it's toll on everybody.
    Last edit by lannisz on Oct 23, '06
  11. by   MsPiggy
    I'm doing 12's & it kicks my butt big time. I do have health issues, but it's exhausting nonetheless. I do two & three in a row and get home shower & go right to bed & veg til I sleep.

    As much as I hate to lose the extra day off I am looking forward to going back to 8 hour shifts, I end up lazying around recovering that extra day anyway.

    Maybe it's just that I'm no spring chicken anymore but it's a long time to be up and running around not even taking into account the constant stress..Make sure you get lots of rest when you get home on your work days :0)

    Ms.P
  12. by   Retired R.N.
    Quote from zias
    ... I get home at night and it's all I can do to get myself in the tub and off to bed! It scares me how debilitated I feel, and I am in SO much pain - I ache all over. I can barely drive myself home, ... Does anyone else have this problem? How do you manage?
    When I read letters like this, I find myself wondering just what schools of nursing are teaching these days. Just the basic facts we learned in A & P were enough to understand why there is so much stress and pain from the self-inflicted misery that results from trying to work beyond reasonable limits.

    Twelve hour shifts are not for everyone! The only way to manage is to decide that your first responsibility as a professional nurse is to yourself. If your present job demands that you work under conditions that are harmful to your health, you need to find a different job as soon as possible. Don't let anyone make you feel guilty for choosing to lead a healthy lifestyle!
  13. by   LilRedRN1973
    I know exactly how you feel! I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis about 1 1/2 years ago (just weeks after graduating NS) and when I was working three 12-hour shifts back to back, I was useless at least the first day off. I was in pain all over, so tired it was all I could do to get out of my uniform before crawling into bed at the end of my 3rd shift. There were times, I'm embarassed to admit, that my husband actually undressed me and put me into bed. It was taking a toll on my physical health, which then caused my mental health to decline.

    I discovered that working 2 on, 1 off, and 1 on is perfect for me! I feel great the first 2 days of work and before I have a chance to become completely overwhelmed with exhaustion, I am off work! Then, I get a day to spend doing whatever and go back for just one day of work. It's also nice because this way, if I have horrible patients, I know I only have to be with them for 2 days at the most! Also, if I'm feeling quite good (as with most chronic illnesses, I have my good weeks and bad weeks) and I have a really nice assignment (I work in the ICU), I can sign up for overtime on that one day off in between and do 4 days in a row. That doesn't happen very often but it's nice when I'm able to. I actually did 5 days about a month ago but the only reason I was able to do that is because I was feeling absolutely great, health-wise (it was as if I didn't have RA), and my assignment was a beautiful one....2 vented patients who were just sick enough to make me work but not so sick I was exhausted at the end of shift. They also both had really, really nice families.

    Try splitting up your days...it doesn't work for everyone, though. I constantly get asked if I split up my days on purpose (we self schedule) and look horrified when I say yes. It's just not everyone's cup of tea but it works great for me! Good luck!

    Melanie = )
  14. by   UM Review RN
    Quote from zias
    I was hoping to get some feedback from other floor nurses. I work 3 12's (usually in a row) and I feel like I'm going to collapse after just 8hrs on the floor! I usually get a break, I change shoes halfway through my shift, wear compression stockings, eat well and stay hydrated. Still, I get home at night and it's all I can do to get myself in the tub and off to bed! It scares me how debilitated I feel, and I am in SO much pain - I ache all over. I can barely drive myself home, and I am on dayshift. It takes me at least two days to recover. My first day off I can barely get out of bed. I do make the effort to exercise on my days off. I do take care of myself - eat right, exercise, adequate sleep, good social supports....I like my job and coworkers and I don't want to find another one. I am just struggling physically. Does anyone else have this problem? How do you manage?
    Yes, I have the same problem. You might try changing your schedule. Give yourself a day off in between the 3 twelves and see how you feel.

    Let us know how it turns out, at any rate. Wishing you the best.

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