I get a lot of questions and inquiries about managing training and residency, usually asking about time management and fitting everything in. I always counter that if something is important enough, you will make the time for it. But that still doesn’t explain how I find time to train. Because of this, I have decided to start a monthly blog post about my training in which I will review the previous 4 weeks. I have chosen 4 weeks because that is how long I am on each rotation. It will be dry at times, but I hope that by laying out a standard week once a month it will be easier for readers to understand how I fit in training and how I modify training sessions on the fly when I have little time. Each month, I’ll also try to explore a theme that develops as I try to balance work with training.
Note: it takes me about 45 minutes to get ready in the morning. This includes caring for my pets, showering, packing my bags for work and training, and packing my food.
Now, my schedule: This was a down week after a big 9-10 days while on leave.
This month’s topic is sleep. As shown above, I try very hard to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night. I also try to get one long night of sleep on the weekend, and try to start every shift as rested as possible. I am on a lighter general surgery rotation this month, but I still never know if a surgery is going to go long or not. I like to get one long sleep on the weekend to keep my body from getting too sleep-deprived. My body will build up a deficit, and it takes time to catch up. When I started my week of vacation last month, I was sleeping 12 hours a night for the first three nights, and then was suddenly sleeping 8-9 when my body had caught up with sleep. A common misconception about sleep is that one’s body adapts to decreased sleep over time.While 5 or 6 hours of sleep may come to feel adequate to some, judgement, reaction time, and other functions are still impaired when sleep suffers to this degree. These functions only return to normal with an adequate sleep schedule. It will vary from person to person, but for me it takes about a week of not using an alarm clock while on vacation to bring my sleep deficit to zero.
Sleep is also important because growth hormone is released during sleep, allowing the body to repair itself and reinforce neurological pathways that are created throughout the day. Everybody knows that children need sleep to transfer what they learn from short term to long term memory and to grow, but adults also need sleep for the same reasons. Furthermore, athletes rely on sleep to cement the neurological pathways created during the day through drills, technique work, and other forms of skill development.
For more resources on sleep, you can visit the the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and Arianna Huffington has a great book about sleep, The Sleep Revolution.