Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Guest Post by Jennifer Johnson

nuTop 5 Ways to Stay Awake

Might as well call you a Vampire— while the rest of the world sleeps, you’re awake, transporting bodies and dealing with blood. You are 12-hour night shift nurse. And while the rest of the public might not be able to do what you do you, you love your job because of the higher pay, no traffic during your commute and you get to chime in on a family event every now and then. And oh yeah, you save people’s lives. But you’re not really immortal, you’re human— and a lack of chronic sleep can and does take a toll on you. Here are the top 5 ways to stay awake during your shift without caffeine—because even though you’re go-to choice of drink may get you over the occasional slump, it’s bad for you and dehydrates your body. You know this. You’re a nurse.
1. Drink tons of Water.
Dehydration reduces your blood volume, which makes you feel tired. Drinking plenty of water will also, in turn, make you want to go to the restroom more— a feeling that can help you stay awake. Try drinking the standard 8 glasses a day to keep your brain and body functioning properly. It’s not scientifically proven but mints are also supposed to stimulate a sense of alertness. Try
mint-flavored water, it’s a two-in-one kind of deal.
2. Exercise. It moves oxygen through the bloodstream and stimulates cells, which is vital in keeping the body alert. While it might look strange to do jumping jacks and squats down the surgical unit, you can excuse yourself for a moment and do a couple of lunges outside. Even doing some basic stretches will help. Take a couple of huge gulps of fresh air while you’re out there too. It’ll also help you stay awake.
3. Eat. Fruit, such as apples, keep energy levels high because they are more easily digestible than many other foods and give the instantaneous fuel you need to keep going. Don’t really feel like carrying a huge apple inside your pocket? Opt out for a fruit smoothie instead of a Starbucks frapp during your break.
4. Turn on the lights. Your body responds to changes in light. Though it is the sun that contains the highest levels of short wavelength blue-light—the energizing light that activates our brains—bright lights around you can also help. Most hospitals are already highly illuminated, but if it is unnaturally dark in an area where you are working, flip on a light switch or go someplace that you know is filled with an excessive amount of light, like a bathroom.
5. Laugh. Not only does laughter reduce stress, but it also stimulates the feel-good chemicals that boost up your energy levels. Ask some of the doctors, other nurses, staff members or even some light-hearted patients to tell you a good joke. It’ll help you feel better mentally and physically and prevent you from falling asleep during your shift.

This guest post is contributed by Jennifer Johnson, who writes on the topics of Nurse Practitioner School. She welcomes your comments at her email Id:

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