Hey nurses – how much water do you drink during a 12-hour shift?
If you are like most hard-working nurses, the answer is probably “not much.”
As nurses, we always encourage our patients to take the best possible care of themselves that they can. However, many nurses either forget or don’t have time during very intensive shifts. I asked several nurses recently what their water intake while they were at work, and here is some of the feedback I got back:
“I try to remember to drink water, but I always get so busy that I forget. By the time I remember, I am so thirsty!”
“I chug water whenever I can remember to drink. Usually, a few times a shift.”
“I almost always go home feeling so dehydrated because I do drink enough water during the day. It’s hard because every day is so hectic!”
Water is essential for nurse health.
It is no surprise that adequate amounts of fluid intake are vital to good health. Additionally, drinking enough water prevents dehydration – which can result in unclear thinking (a lousy situation for nurses giving patient care).
According to the Center For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC), dehydration causes:
- Decreased physical performance
- Dry mouth
- Kidney stones
- Mood changes
- And it sucks your energy and just makes you feel crummy
On the flip side, staying hydrated results in:
- Clearer skin
- Better mental clarity
- More energy
- Better bowel movements
- A happier mood
How much water should nurses drink during a 12-hour shift?
The Food And Nutrition Board set general recommendations for women at approximately 2.7 liters (91 ounces) of total water each day, and men an average of roughly 3.7 liters (125 ounces daily) of total water.
However, the reality is that a person’s size, activity level, and medical needs, among other factors, will result in different fluid intake requirements for different people.
Also, since many nurses are walking several miles and are on their feet for most of a single shift, I would consider nursing a very high activity level career. Therefore, many nurses may require a higher fluid intake on days they work.
How do you know if you are staying hydrated?
Checking your urine is an excellent way to gauge dehydration. If you’re well-hydrated, your urine will be mostly clear and just slightly yellow. A darker yellow or amber color is a signal that you are not drinking enough fluids.
Also, by the time you are feeling thirsty, likely, you are already dehydrated. Thirst is an excellent body mechanism that prevents us from going too long without drinking water!
6 Tips For Nurses To Reach Daily Water Goals
Drinking enough water can be difficult for busy nurses with 1000 things already on their plate. Especially since we are putting the needs of our patient’s lives first. With these easy tips, you can reach your water goals in no time.
#1. Bring a seal-able lid water bottle to work with you every single day. Having a container within arms reach maximizes the chances that you are going to drink water when you think about it.
#2. Keep track of your fluid intake. This is easy when you use your container as a gauge. Decide how many refills you want to drink every shift and stick to it. It makes staying hydrated a realistic goal.
#3. Drink two glasses of water as soon as you wake up. Drinking at least 16-24 oz of water first thing before a 12-hour shift will help set you up for success. By making significant progress early in the day, hitting your water goals seems much more attainable.
#4. Eat your water. Fruits and vegetables are not only excellent break room snacks, but they are loaded with water that contributes towards your total water intake for the day.
#5. Make your water more exciting. Infuse your water with chopped fruit, veggies, and other herbs to make your water more appealing. Consider the following ideas:
- Stir in a tablespoon of chia seeds for more Omega three’s
- Lemon or lime slices
- Fruits such as apples, blueberries or strawberries
- A veggie such as cucumber slices
- You can infuse your water at home and bring it to work with you
#6. Spice up your water. Consider drinking a few glasses of carbonated water in addition to your regular water. Bubbly water often tastes more refreshing then flat water and may encourage you to drink a little more. Have an expensive sparkling water habit? Consider buying a Sodastream and make your own bubbly water at home!
#7. Do a “water challenge” with your co-workers. Make your co-workers and yourself more accountable for drinking enough water during a shift by challenging each other to make it a priority! Set a goal for how many times you will fill up your water bottles throughout the day. Then, make it official by putting stickers on your water bottles and adding a checkmark each time you fill them up. That way, you are sure you are all drinking enough and staying hydrated!
A few great water bottle suggestions:
If you are working long nursing shifts, then you need a water bottle to help you reach your water intake goals. When you always have your water bottle with you, hitting your water intake goals are so much more attainable.
1. Hydroflask 40 oz Wide Mouth Water Bottle
2. Simple Modern Wide Mouth 32oz Water Bottle
Nurture yourself, nurse.
Water is essential for staying hydrated, maintaining stamina, and overall health and well-being. Nurse health is as important as our patient’s health and must be prioritized to prevent dehydration during busy hospital shifts.
If you are are looking to find ways to take better care of yourself as a busy nurse, join our email list!
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