Questions for nurses and those who do shift work.

Hello everyone!! I am a new member as of about to weeks ago, and I am looking for suggestions. I work as a nurse and rotate night to day shift/12 hour shifts. My two hardest "challenges" so far has been motivating myself to workout on days that I work, and how to fight those 2AM cravings for Soda and Sugar (especially when I am super tired!)...Any suggestions?


  • muc88
    muc88 Posts: 2 Member
    Hello! I've done nightshifts for two years and I used to live on fizzy drinks and sweets all night but found I crashed hard! Best thing I did was prepare my food and take it with me, take nothing you know you shouldn't eat and stick to it, its really hard at first but the best thing ive done is stick to healthy food on a night shift and I find I have much more energy.
    With regards to exercise, when I did 13 hour night shifts, workouts went out the window, but now I do 10 hour nightshifts I still squeeze in a 30 min jillian michaels dvd, its hard but I literally just force myself to do it, and I try to coincide one rest day with my nightshifts too :)
    i'm not really an expert though and im having some plateau issues at the minute but I hope it helps!
  • Onaughmae
    Onaughmae Posts: 873 Member
    I also work nights and have to agree...pack your lunch and take it with you. Stay out of the cafeteria and away from the vending machines. There is never anything good for you there! I even pack snacks such as protein bars, trail mix, fresh fruit or greek yogurt. That helps satisfy that "late in the shift munchie attack". As far as exercise all I have to offer there is just do it. I have to make myself do it all the time. Once I start I am always glad I did though.
  • greenmm1980
    greenmm1980 Posts: 86 Member
    I work Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I do not workout on those days. I figure I do enough runing in the ED, lol. As far as the snacking, I have to pack a bunch of different choices or I end up at the vending machine. I dont eat them all, but having a variety helps.
  • muc88
    muc88 Posts: 2 Member
    Totally agree, bringing plenty healthy choices helps, i get laughed as cos i take so much food with me, i dont eat it all but i feel liike i have more control if i bring a few options then im less likely to go for fasy food or chocolate at 3am!
  • i im training to be a nurse and can do quite long shifts for work experience. our vending machines often have wraps and rolls which i opt for with water or black coffee. as fr exercise i attend a 24 hour gym which i go to before my shift becase i know i wont go after. i also do as many errands as i can and walk really fast to burn the calories
  • Something I've found what helps me on long shifts at night is to get away for 5-10 minutes and do some calisthenics. Getting your heart rate going even for a little bit can help you to get a jump on the sleepiness factor. Not so much that you'll need a shower but it will get your heart pumping for a bit. I also gotta admit I like my coffee with tons of sugar and cream, but I'm trying to go black, which will cut out almost all the calories. Drinking a bottle of water whenever you feel hungry can help but between the coffee and water I hope you have a great nurses bladder.
    Try one of these wakeup workouts, but you may want to take off your scrub top and be careful not to rip the bottoms:

    10 squats, 10 forward lunges (each leg) and 20 calf raises.

    10-15 pushups, 10-15 dips (you'll need two chairs on either side of you to push on), and 20 bent over 'dumbbell rows' holding a gallon of liquid.
  • Kimberly3013
    Kimberly3013 Posts: 78 Member
    I work 3rd shift as a PCA and I am doing clinicals as a Surg Tech on 1st shift each 3 days a week. It can throw your eating schedule off. For me I have found that eating a meal instead of snacks help get me through. It may not be the most sensible meal (we have a Wendy's in the hospital that is open until 3 a.m. but I make sure whatever I eat stays within my calories. Other than that I stay busy all the time, I don't have a chance to think about eating. My biggest problem is forgetting to eat, whenever I get busy I don't think about eating and like a couple days ago at the end of the day realized I only ate one time throughout the day.

    I have had people tell me if you get into the snack mode, drink a glass of water and just tell yourself you can have the snack after the water is gone. If you are still thinking of snacking after that go ahead but keep it within reason.
  • TravelDog14
    TravelDog14 Posts: 317 Member
    I've worked shift work for most of the past 27 years. Healthy for the first 14 years followed by 12 not so healthy ones, and for the past 13-18 months have been able to get back to healthy eating and a healthy weight.

    What's worked for me:
    On all shifts I pre-pack and bring my meals, with several healthy snacks that don't need heating up and/or don't need me to sit down to eat. Buy a decent digital kitchen scale and measure out your meal and the snacks the night (or day) before. That way you'll stay within your calorie goal while at work. I always have a 32 oz. Nalgene water bottle handy, and drink at least one during my shift. I allow myself one 10-16 oz. cup of coffee somewhere near the middle of my shift. It's something to look forward to and it does give me a bit of a boost.

    For working out routine is the key. When I get home from my shift I don't do anything until I've changed into my workout gear. I don't sit down, I don't turn on the TV, nothing but take a pee until I've put on my shorts, jog bra, and running shoes. If I didn't do that I could find a million excuses to put off exercise, but I find once I'm in my exercise gear I will go for a jog, or a very fast walk, or hop on the treadmill. I often have to play the head game of telling myself I'll only exercise for 20 minutes to just get going, but then once I start I end up stretching it to 30 + minutes.

    Good luck.
  • I've been shift work as a nurse for a year now. I work 12 hour shifts and I never stress if I don't work out on those days. It's exhausting enough running around work for 12 hours, I figure that's a workout in its own. I'm fine with packing a healthy lunch but my issue is every single night one of the other staff members are bringing in cookies, cupcakes, pizza, etc. And once it's in front of me and it's 3am, it's impossible to resist. The other night I ate about 4 big cookies then felt so guilty the next day it was enough to snap me back into my diet. I started tracking everything on here and the feeling of logging all those calories is enough to make me stay away.

    I eat best if I plan exactly what I am going to eat on each break and stick to it. I log it the day before so I know where I am at calorie wise. I leave at least 200 calories open for when I'm still hungry and need a little something extra (healthy of course). I was horrible for coming home after a night shift and binge eating before bed. Now I send myself right to bed, I am usually tired enough I can fall asleep even if I am a little hungry. I also find I'm 10x more likely to make it to the gym if I have plans to meet someone (I feel bad bailing) so I meet my mom twice a week for a strength training class) and I make plans with other co-workers and friends on other days to meet for spin classes, etc.
  • darkrose20
    darkrose20 Posts: 1,139 Member
    As for how to fit any exercise in on crazy shifts: I take a walk on a break at work. It's not much, but it's at least a little extra activity.

    As for fighting the sugar craving at 2am...I'm not the best one for advice here, because I don't really fight the craving all that much. I eat way less than before and most times ignore the bag of chocolates and the Starbucks in the cafeteria. Maybe this will help:

    I break my day into 4 sections: 12am to 6am, 6am to 12pm, 12pm to 6pm and 6pm to 12am. That way I don't get confused which calories went where. I figure 2am is two hours into a brand new day. A 70-ish calorie fun sized chocolate something or other won't blow the day nor will a 40-ish calorie cup of coffee with sugar and cream. On the other hand, if you can't have just one bite of chocolate or need that Caramel Mocha Latte Cappuccino thing with Whip and Whole Milk they sell at the cafeteria, that's an issue. I think It's just a matter of perspective for me: I don't get more pep with the 200+ calorie thing from the cafeteria, though I admit it tastes better. If I'm fading, I wander to the coffee pot. It's free and much, much less "expensive" on calories. Same with the chocolate. If I'm stressed, I want the chocolate. Again, I try to eat it in moderation ONE fun sized whatever, versus a handfull of fun sized whatevers. Oh, and since I'm only having one, I make sure it's one I really, really like.
  • jennifer_417
    jennifer_417 Posts: 12,344 Member
    I keep a bunch of lower-calorie snacks on hand so I can munch at will.