View All Articles
  • 04 February 2019
  • 8 min read

How I survive my 12 hour shifts

Subscribe To Advice
  • 0
  • 8360

Lottie is currently studying adult nursing. In this video she shares her tips for surviving 12 hour shifts!

Play video: Lottie shares her tips for surviving 12 hour shifts!

Hi everyone welcome back to another video on my channel.

Today I'm gonna be filming another video with and this time it's gonna be how to survive a 12-hour shift.

This video is also gonna be a lot better quality than all of my other ones because I now have better camera and I'm not filming on my iPhone for these kind of Nursing video things.

Be sure to like and subscribe, and comment what you think about the video and yeah, let's just get straight into it!

Stay hydrated throughout the shift

I'm currently on placement right now as well so I've been through a lot of 12-hour shifts recently.

So my first tip is, to first of all drink a lot of water.

It's really really really important to bring a big bottle of water, or at least if you have the time to refill it throughout the day and to encourage yourself to drink the water by like putting ice in it or get in really cold water.

I'm on placement, I'm washing my hands a lot and I don't really drink a lot either and I get really dry hands and dry lips and quite a croaky throat as well, so I find that if I drink a lot of water on placement then I don't get those issues as much.

Search Jobs

1000s of jobs for Nurses & Care Professionals. No.1 for UK nursing, care & healthcare jobs.

Search Jobs

Eat snacks when you can

Next thing is to bring snacks in your pocket.

I personally haven't done this yet but I do need to start getting into it because you might not get your breaks when you want them as a student, and if you're like me and don't really want to ask ‘can I go my break now’ because to me it kind of looks like you just want to get off the ward and have a break because you don't enjoy it or whatever.

I'm sure they don't think that, I just don't like to ask!

If you bring it a little snack in your pocket, you know you could go to the toilet - I know it sounds grim - and just stuff a chocolate bar down your throat or whatever and you'll feel so much better.

I know I did before when I was on a couple placements I've been on, you've been able to help yourself to like hot drinks and that.

When I was in endoscopy, after every procedure I would always go into the staff room and just kind of get hot drink and that honestly kept me filled for the whole day, like I didn't even feel like needing a break.

Play video: Lottie answers your questions about student nursing!

Use a sleep cycle app

The next is actually a tip on how to not be tired throughout the shift and that is by using a sleep cycle app or like a sleep calculator online and this means that, basically no matter how long you spend sleeping, if you wake up in your lightest phase of sleep you're not going to be tired.

I know the worst thing is your alarm goes off and you're right in a dream, in a proper deep sleep and then you're thinking oh I hope that's not my alarm to get to go work and you know it obviously is, and it's the worst thing ever and you always feel so tired and groggy and it's dark outside.

But I found that if I'm in a light sleep I can hear the alarms straight away and I'm like up and ready to go, so do a sleep calculator online, calculate what time you go into bed and what time you need to wake up and it'll tell you what time you need to go to sleep basically.

I also have a sleep cycle app with a little orange logo, I think you have to pay for it now I'm not sure but it basically when you go to sleep it wake you up in a time zone - mine set to half an hour so I set mine to wake me up between 5:10 and 5:40 in the morning so it will wake me up in my light phase of sleep, and it knows that by movement.

What Do You Think?

Ask questions, comment and like this article below! Share your thoughts, add your opinion in the comments below.


Get comfy shoes

The next tip on how to survive a 12-hour shift is to get good shoes.

These are honestly essential because I have some Shoezone shoes - no disrespecting Shoezone, but they are pretty cheap and I put some soles in them and the soles went flat, my feet now kill every single day.

I went back to my Clark shoes that I had put to the side because I've worn them to death and I put them on again and oh wow, like my feet didn't ache that much in the day it was great.

I'm gonna get some Clark shoes when I could muster up a £60-£70 for a pair!

If you just get good shoes like you'll just last so much easier because there's nothing worse than standing up the whole day, and as a student.

Another tip is to bring proper food with you for your breaks, and I mean plan your meals.

Don't just literally pack them two minutes before you go to bed, actually find out what foods work best for you on your shift and then you can stick to those foods.

I have like the same things every shift and smoothies are absolutely great because they have a lot of carbs in and a lot of protein and sugar, all the things that you need for energy.

Always always pack extra food because there's nothing worse than going hungry and wishing you'd bought more food and it's only one o'clock in the afternoon and you've already ate all your food.

So always bring spare food or just have some spare food in the bottom of your bag that you could just eat.

A lot of people are worried about overeating because you're eating consistently throughout 12 hours but trust me, you burn so many calories over 12 hours, you do not need to worry about overeating - if anything you need to worry about under-eating.

Play video: Claire offers her advice on the top essential things you need for nursing school!

Try taking vitamins to combat fatigue

Consider multivitamins; vitamins are amazing because a lot of people are actually vitamin D deficient, and vitamin D and vitamin B if you lack it in any way possible it causes a lot of fatigue and dizziness and tiredness and everything. The last thing you want is to be tired and fatigued on a 12 hour shift so consider taking multivitamins.

Become A Community Contributor

Share your story to help and inspire others. Write or create a video about your job or your opinions!


Don’t look forward to the end of the shift - it will drag time!

Look forward to your next break, don't look forward to the end of the shift because you can guarantee that if you look at the time and it says like eight hours till the end of your shift then it will drag, but if you just look forward to your next break, like even if it's just, oh I should get my next break in the next hour or two, then you'll find your the day goes a lot faster.

When you break it down into like three or four hours and then at the end of the four hours you usually get breaks so break it down, look forward to your next break not the end of the shift.

Keep yourself busy!

Another way to make the day go faster is to keep yourself busy.

If you don't already really do try it because I used to be the kind of person who’d rather just chill than be really really busy because I hate being busy.

But recently I've just found myself s busy and the day goes so much faster.

So keep yourself busy! As a student you can go and see a lot of procedures an everything if you're on a ward, so definitely go and do that.

I know a CT must last about an hour, half an hour to an hour, so that takes off an hour of the day and then if you go to theatres for procedure you’re guaranteed to be gone for about two hours.

They're all really interesting stuff and a lot of the time when you're on the ward there can be times that you have nothing to do so definitely keep yourself busy even if it just means to clean the desk and everything, they'll always be a daily cleaning list on every ward so get yourself stuck in to do it.

Just keep yourself busy!

So that is how to survive a 12 hour shift.

I hoped you liked the video and I hope you do take advantage of all the tips that I've given you.

I'll see you in my next video and don't forget to subscribe to for more videos from people like me who are student nurses and also YouTubers!

So yeah, I'll see you in the next video. Bye!

Play video: Chloe shares her tips for surviving the night shift!

Looking for a nursing job?

Next Steps...

Create an account.

We will help you build a CV as part of that process.

This will get you ready to start searching for jobs.

Care Professionals Helping One Another is a community where people like you can contribute and share advice. Learn & never miss out on updates. Subscribe to be part of our community.