6 Ways to Ensure Adequate Nurse Hydration on Shift


Tips to stay hydrated as a nurse

By Laura Winzeler, contributor

Staying hydrated as a nurse working long shifts can feel just as challenging as eating healthy foods when your schedule's hectic. But it's equally as important and a critical component of caring for yourself so you can better serve patients. Not replacing the fluid you're losing as you walk miles per shift and exert large amounts of physical and mental energy can cause dehydration, with dangerous symptoms that include:

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Headaches
  • Muscle cramps

In addition to sometimes being too busy to hydrate, travel nurses who exercise strenuously, work in humid climates or take winter assignments in high-altitude locations are also at risk for dehydration. Implement some of the following tips for staying hydrated as a nurse in all seasons to help you perform at peak capacity.

1. Increase your veggie intake at meals

Many vegetables boast water content above 90%, making them a smart addition to your daily meal plan. Toss a cucumber, with nearly 97% water, into your breakfast smoothie. Build your lunch salad on a water-rich foundation of lettuce (94%), celery (95%) and tomatoes (95%). Get creative with dinner by choosing cauliflower rice and zoodles (zucchini noodles) over their carb-heavy grain and gluten alternatives.

2. Snack on fresh fruits with high water content

Juicy fruits help you stay hydrated, and they deliver a variety of health-promoting nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Make the following fresh fruits, with an average water content of 90%, staples in your weekly workday menu:

  • Watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew melons
  • Stone fruits such as peaches
  • Oranges and grapefruit
  • Strawberries

3. Sip smoothies and soups throughout your nursing shift

Dairy products and their vegan alternatives, such as soy, almond, cashew and coconut milk, count toward your daily fluid intake. Whip up a big batch of protein smoothie at home before your shift using some of the water-rich fruits and veggies mentioned above, and store it in 16-ounce containers in the break room fridge for quick sipping on the go.

Instant soup cups filled with hearty stews or bone broth are ready in minutes, and many don't even require heating in a microwave. Look for low-sodium, MSG-free options. In warm months when high-water veggies are bountiful, consider blending your own chilled gazpacho at home for some refreshing, nourishing nurse hydration on shift.

4. Discover the benefits of herbal teas

Teas made from dried fruits, flowers, spices or herbs are aromatic and an exotic treat for the taste buds. Many have health-enhancing, medicinal properties, including antiviral, anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea effects. Peppermint and ginger teas are warming on cold days, and hibiscus and rose hips are great summertime choices when served chilled or over ice.

5. Turn to technology for hydration help

Water bottles get smarter and more tech-intense with each passing year, making staying hydrated as a nurse easy and fun. Some models send notifications to your smartphone reminding you when it's time to hydrate or alerting you when you fall behind in your daily water intake goals. Others emit a bright glow when it's time for you to stop and sip, a great visual cue when your water bottle is parked on the nurse's station for hours. Want a bottle smart enough to tell you the current temperature of your drinking water? No problem. Many high-tech water bottles are easy to sync with other wellness apps, such as Fitbit and Apple Health.

6. Go ahead and enjoy that pot of coffee or black tea

Despite persistent rumors to the contrary, coffee and caffeinated tea are not dehydrating. While caffeine does act as a mild diuretic that can have you visiting the restroom more often, the amount of liquid you consume when drinking the cup of coffee or glass of iced tea helps hydrate you. Associate clinical professor at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine, Daniel Vigil, MD, assures Time that it's 100% OK to count the coffee or black tea you drink to stay alert and focused at work as part of your daily water intake.

There are a variety of creative ways to increase hydration that don't involve gulping down copious amounts of room-temperature water. Hopefully, this list will inspire a fresh flow of your own ideas for staying hydrated as a nurse.

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