Do as we say. Not as we do.

As a physician I spend a lot of time discussing sleep hygiene. Which is similar to our regular hygiene but somehow harder to pull off. Every morning I floss, brush, shower, deodorant and then coffee. I have the routine down to a science. But sleep hygiene has hard for patients to get consistent with. This is the idea of doing things in a routine to promote restful sleep. Go to bed around the same time. Put your Iphone away. Turn off the TV. Make sure you are in a cool dark room. Before getting married make sure your partner does not snore or will at least wear a CPAP.

Yet physicians often have the worst sleep hygiene. It starts in medical school and then gets worse in residency. We have to be at surgical rotations at 5 AM. And I worked 30 hour shifts as a resident physician. After a 30 hours shift you were then expected to sit through a lunch time lecture. Here we are preaching sleep hygiene but treating ourselves like machines that do not need sleep.

I work in a practice with 4 physicians. Which means I am on call 25 percent of my life. I tell patients to put their phone away and hide it across the room. Yet I turn my ringer up so that I wake up in case of an emergency. Doctors do shift work. I have heard of emergency room doctors making separate walled in rooms with special walls to reduce noise so that one can get good sleep during the day.

It is time for self care. The CDC recommends that all adults try and get 7 hours of sleep. We need to make changes. I am going to turn off my computer earlier and make sure I get to sleep at a good time. Luckily hours have been changed for residents trying to get them more sleep. Physicians overall are known for pushing themselves but we need to realize that a well rested physician is a better physician. Sleep deprivation can affect our focus, mood and productivity.

We need to realize that there is only so much we can do in one day. But sleeping 7 hours should be one of our first priorities. I am done now. Going to take a nap.

The Doc is In

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