“Sleep is for the weak,” most people say. Oh wait, scratch that –most people in medical school say. And somehow it’s true, since you’ve got nothing to do but get your books, bring them with you, read, study, and sacrifice the most prized possession we used to have when we were still little, and regret neglecting it now that we stepped in to this corporate-like world of medical school –sleep. But to be honest, we desperately need sleep, and getting some of it doesn’t mean we’re weak, as opposed to the saying. Scientifically speaking, we need sleep badly in order to do our tasks properly because without it, we wouldn’t be able to ace that OB quiz or listen to our Pharmacology lecturer during crucial discussions.
Studies show that a person, especially the younger ones, should get at least eight hours of sleep a day. But now that we're in med school, it doesn't seem like we can get a blessing like that every day. What with the enormous piles of homework and research papers, the possibilities of having a good night's sleep is really a blur.
But just because we can't find the time to relax and date with our loving and ever-comfortable bed doesn't mean we don't have to. Of course, we really need to get those eight hours or more because sleep affects our concentration, memory and the ability to learn. But because we, the medical students, are one of the most sleep-deprived populations breathing in this planet, we just forego sleep during periods of stress, not realizing that they are sabotaging our physical and mental health.
Although it may sound overwhelming, there are lots of ways to help you get a better night’s sleep.
• Eating and sleeping may not seem relevant to each other. However, they are interrelated in a way. By eating at the right time, you can regulate your circadian rhythm which is your "internal biological clock". A common mistake that many students make is that they will eat late at night. This is a problem because your body is still digesting food while you are trying to sleep.
• By establishing and monitoring a regular bed time and a wake-up time, you will be developing a consistent “internal clock” that knows when it is time to be under the covers of your blanket. This may help you if you normally have difficulty in falling asleep. Remember that it is important to find consistent times to go to sleep and to wake up.
• If you lie awake for hours in your bed, consider developing a pre-sleep routine. This routine may help your body unwind in order to make it easier for you to sleep and get a rest. Some pre-sleep routines may be reading a book, listening to relaxing music, or taking a warm bath.
• If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, it would be best to avoid caffeine. It can cause sleep
problems up to ten to twelve hours after drinking it. So, to all those whose partner in studying is coffee, if you want enough sleep, better give it up now. Like seriously.
Sleep is something everyone needs, but many don’t get enough. As a student, you may know what it means to be sleep-deprived due to all the late nights of working or being unable to sleep. Whether it is homework you put off that needs to be done or stress that is keeping you up, sleep is imperative for numerous reasons, and some of which are for you to get your schoolwork done, and for your body to remain healthy as you get along with your strenuous subjects. So, don't be afraid to lay in your bed and fall asleep, for it may give you strength to face the challenges of school each and every day.