5 Uncommon ways to survive a double

Someone called in, and they’re going to be short tonight.  You need the money, you want to help, and you’re feeling spunky.

You decide to take on the responsibility of pulling a double shift.

Crazy, yes, but no one is honored and revered as much on the nursing floor as the nurse who decided to give up their free time to take one for the team.

Now that you are committed, though, how are you going to get through it?

The internet is full of sensible tips and tricks to help you power through the hours and come out the other end richer and well thought of by your peers.

You don’t need a rehash of all the old ideas.  You need new, cutting edge, uncommon ways to survive, and here I propose five of them that just might help tip the balance.

Power Nap

Once your second shift starts, you have your full complement of breaks again.  Take them, nurse!  So many nurses don’t take their breaks, and that leads to burn out, stress, and crankiness.Even on your fifteen-minute breaks, you can use the time to collect yourself and gather some rest to you.  Sit in a chair in the break room, learn your head against a wall, and close your eyes.

Set an alarm on your phone or have someone come and make sure you’re awake in fifteen.  If you can’t sleep like this, at least you will be able to go to a quiet place for a few minutes, and that can be all the difference.

Energy Drinks

Other places on the internet will tell you that hitting the caffeine hard will only make things worse.  They are probably right if you do this constantly.

But some nights are just made for energy drinks.  Coffee is an okay substitute, but you want to get something that’s going to prop them eyelids open for you.

I don’t recommend it as something you partake in all the time or for every shift – that’s what coffee is for.  When you have worked a long shift and somehow were roped into another, sometimes energy drinks are the only prop you have to get you through those eight hours.


Working the nursing floor is always an exercise in teamwork, but it’s more important than ever when someone is pulling a double.  Let your coworkers know that you’ve been here two shifts, and don’t hesitate to lean on fresher colleagues.

This isn’t to say that you kick up your heels and let everyone else do the running.  It’s about asking for help when you need it, no guilt.

“Don’t fall into the trap of letting your downtime suck you into a vortex of fatigue.”

You are doing that shift a favor by working a double, and most coworkers are cool with helping you out with your assignment.  Don’t take advantage of it, but don’t think you have to be Super Nurse, either.

When you are working on your second shift in a day, take the time to ask for extra help.  Most coworkers would be more than happy to help because if you were there, they’d have the assignment themselves.


Eating is going to go a long way toward keeping your energy up over sixteen hours.  Sitting down for a big meal is nice, but it isn’t always possible – or helpful.

This is the only time in the history of nutrition that you should graze.  That is, eat little handfuls of food whenever you have a minute.

If you eat high calorie, high protein foods, this can help to give you little boosts of energy as you make your way through the second part of your shift.  Carry pretzels in your pocket, make some microwave popcorn, or carry a baggie of cheese.

The point is that you need to eat and eat often to keep your energy levels high and get your body physically through the shift.

Busy Work

Finally, no one likes busy work . . . except for the nurse who is trying to keep themselves awake.  Let’s face it: every facility has little jobs that need to be done by someone with extra time on their hands.

Maybe you can restock the nurse’s station, wipe down the computers, or clean out the break room refrigerator.  Why would you want to do this when you’ve been working so long?

Simple, you keep ahead of your tiredness by keeping yourself busy.  Instead of sitting at the desk and feeling the fatigue weigh on you, you can get up, get motivated, and get stuff done.

Don’t fall into the trap of letting your downtime suck you into a vortex of fatigue.  It will be so much more difficult to move when you have to if you are lazing around, and action is really the only way to get.

What tips do you have for conquering a double?


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