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Help! Dilemma (regarding 12 hour shift)

I love my new job. It's 12 hours on days. There was no option for 8 hour shift.

I've done 12 hour midnight before and it was pure h*ll for me.

12 hour days is working well but around 5 P.M. I become totally exhausted...and can't think as well. (that's the busiest time...we get all the admits and the past few times I've worked that's when patients turn for the worst)

I don't want to leave this job. It's taken me many different position to find a place I really like. It's just the last 2 hours of work are terrible.

Anybody know how I can get through the last 2 hours better? I'm an excellent nurse....but feel horrible when it comes to the last 2 hours.

Hi - our 12 hour shifts are 3 a.m. to 3 p.m. and then 3 p.m. to 3 a.m. I get up at 1:45 a.m. and am home by 3:15. The two hours that get to me are usually after 5 a.m. We've assessed all the patients and gotten ready for the docs and there is usually some down time and I get really sleepy.

Not sure there is an answer to this . . .12 hours is a long time. Although my husband doesn't understand that being a farmer/logger . . . you work till the job is done and while the sun shines and after, which means 15-16 hours days. He isn't very sympathetic to my whining. :)

I always say I want to work 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and get paid for 12 hours. . . . . ;)

I like being home by the time my kids get home though . .even if I'm exhausted, I'm here.

Not much help, I know. I do take a walk outside in the fresh air if I find myself getting really sleepy. Watch the sun come up. Do some jumping jacks. Get more coffee . . . .

Try taking your break about 30 minutes before your "tired" time--use the break to take a brisk walk around the parking lot, hospital, or whatever--eat a snack (protein, not sugar). Hope it helps!


Specializes in OB, Telephone Triage, Chart Review/Code. Has 22 years experience.

Just as you probably had to adjust to working 12-hour nights, you will adjust to the 12-hour days.

Eat healthy and drink lots of water. Take the suggestion of a walk on your break to clear your head.

Good luck.

Hellllllo Nurse, BSN, RN

Has 15 years experience.

Originally posted by wv_nurse 2003

-use the break to take a brisk walk around the parking lot, hospital, or whatever--

What break?!

And, don't most nurses' entire shifts consist of brisk walking? I know mine do!


Originally posted by Hellllllo Nurse

What break?!

And, don't most nurses' entire shifts consist of brisk walking? I know mine do!



point taken!! Well maybe go in an empty patient's room and open the window for some fresh air!! :chuckle

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 43 years experience.

I like the idea of a protein snack to give you a boost. How about a little caffeine? Personally, I don't tolerate caffeine well, but a little bit might perk you up a bit. Finally, are you really getting enough sleep? Perhaps your body is running down because you need a little more sleep than you are getting.


All I can offer is sympathy as I suffer from the same type of problem. I am by nature a morning person. I love the morning, but by 5 p.m. I am ready to be finished for the day. And you are right, if there is going to be an influx of patients or a problem with a patient it will happen in those last two hours. I try to take a break and eat a snack. Apples are good. They give me a quick boost without caffeine or sugar. Good luck with your adjustment.

I had this same problem on days, from 4 to 6 p.m. I attributed it to my body being used to watching oprah.....stretched out on the couch...at 4 p.m. The other nurses had the same problem in varying degrees. I think our bods are just saying "stop!" after 10 hours on our feet. I don't think there is a cure/solution.

By 6 p.m. , I was energized again due to the docs' rounding and shift change report.

And , then, home and shower, quick snack, and collapsing in bed at 9:00 p.m.

What a life !

nursedawn67, LPN

Specializes in Geriatrics, LTC.

When I hit my "sleepy time" at work I get up and maybe walk around in the building, or I step outside for a moment....usually only takes a bit of brisk moving around and I catch my "second wind". :)

Originally posted by wv_nurse 2003


point taken!! Well maybe go in an empty patient's room and open the window for some fresh air!! :chuckle

Our windows don't open:eek:

I agree, try sitting down and eating supper. Working 12 hour shifts are tough. But I would rather work 3 days than be at work 5-6 days a week and deal with all the workplace politics.

I have to agree though with the busy time. 2-6 is like the dreaded time. All the admits and the discharges...ugh. But still would not go back to 8 hour shifts if my life depended on it.

That used to happen to me too at the same time frame. Eventhough the day was full of walking, it did help for me to get outside and walk leisurely while praying, humming, deep breathing, or sitting in my car listening to a great CD I could sing loud to in the parking lot while eating some Grandmas Chocolate chip cookies! Don't fall asleep in the car though!!!!!

renerian, BSN, RN

Specializes in MS Home Health.

Yes I do have a suggestion and this worked for me! I ate a healthy snack at 4pm cause I would start dragging. Yes I scarfed it but it gave my body some fuel.

Give it a whirl,



Specializes in ORTHOPAEDICS-CERTIFIED SINCE 89. Has 30 years experience.

I found that eating an early lunch and an afternoon snack helped even out my blood sugars and energy level. The walk outside is good, or just a walk somewhere not on your floor. Offer to go to the pharmacy or supply. A change of pace.

Another benefit of rural nursing . . . .breaks long enough to take a walk in the fresh air.


gwenith, BSN, RN

Specializes in ICU.

Recent research has suggested that eating apples gives you the same boost as caffiene. It is not as intense as the caffiene boost but last longer. Plus they are good for you.

(And NO! Brian I am not doing some illicit advertising for the Australian Apple Industry!)

Originally posted by ptnurse

I am by nature a morning person. I love the morning.

Me too :D

I began my 12 hr shifts 4 months ago and still am not fully adjusted. I was thinking Im really NOT cut out for this- but the concensus among the nurses is that it takes a GOOD 6 months to fully adjust.

I am raring to go at 7 am and do begin to fade around 3 pm when I too would like to be lying on my comfy couch. I try to get as much done in the AM that I can. Im more organized and think clearer in AM. I make a list of supplies and make sure all I need is there for me.

I take a short break around 11 or 11:30 (if I dont have accuchecks !!) then I take my lunch late around 3 PM. Now when I get back I check my charts and write some notes. I start my 1800 meds early so if I do get an admit Im not behind with the pts I already have.

I have definately felt an improvement in the last couple of weeks The routine is a major adjustment for me but 3 days a week OFF is the BEST ;)

:nurse: good luck.................


jschut, BSN, RN

Has 20 years experience.

I do 7p-7a. I have adjusted pretty well, although I still do get tired around 5a, just wishing my day would hurry up and get done.

My bad point is having to stay up till noon to get gs on the school bus, then lay down and be back up by 5p to get ready for work again. But I do have to admit, most of the time, I only work 2 days in a row, then have 2 days off. But once during the pay period, I have to do 3 in a row, which is a killer!

Good luck and I hope you adjust real soon!

Make sure you take your lunch break - get off the unit, eat & relax for an hour - or whatever amount of time you get. Take it. A walk outside in real non-recycled air can be a big pick-up. Have a protein, nuts or fruit snack around 4pm - no carbs, no sugar, no junk - & drink more water. Dehydration can make you just as sluggish as a low blood glucose can.


Make sure you take your lunch break - get off the unit, eat & relax for an hour.

An hour????:eek: :eek:

Don't I wish! We only get a 1/2 hr.. (if we get one!)

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