Why Physicians Need More Sleep in 2021

February 2, 2021 by Christen Aldrich

Filed under For Career Seekers, For Employers, For the Workforce, Health and Wellness

Last modified February 3, 2021

According to this article from Physicians Practice, sleep remains an essential lifestyle pillar for human health. Sleep is required for many aspects of our lives, such as our mental health, work productivity, and to ward off infections, just to name a few. According to the National Health Interview Survey in 2018, only about 67% of adults aged 18 years and older reported receiving adequate sleep per night.

Sleep for a physician (or anyone else) is rarely a priority. Prior to 1984 and the famous Libby Zion’s case, no one spoke of restricting medical shift hours. It was not until 2003 that the ACGME announced an 80-hour workweek across all specialties. Still, sleep seems to be underrated and sometimes avoided.

Regardless of age, most organizations recommend a minimum of seven hours per night of sleep. Dr. Andrea Matsumura, a sleep medicine specialist, says that society convinces us that it is okay to not sleep. What most people don’t realize, is sleep deprivation has long term health effects. Not only does it negatively impact all 11 systems of the body, but it has also been shown to increase the risk of early death by 12%.

The article continues to offer some best practices for maximizing your sleep:

  • Keep the bedroom your sanctuary, reserving it for sleep and sex.
  • Prioritize your sleep and make a bedtime routine prior to midnight and stick to it.
  • Keep the room pitch dark and relatively cool.
  • Avoid eating and heavy exercise right before bed.
  • Limit coffee and other stimulants to the morning as opposed to later in the day.
  • Power down screen time before bedtime preferably one to two hours before bedtime.
  • If you need a nap, limit it to no more than 30 minutes.
  • When in doubt about your sleep, consult your regular physician.
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