Tips for Staying Human During Residency Training - Part 1

Peterkin_StayingHuman_6eDr. Allan Peterkin's Staying Human During Residency Training: How to Survive and Thrive after Medical School was recently released in its 6th edition. It is the ultimate survival guide for medical students, interns, residents, and fellows, providing time-tested advice and the latest information on every aspect of a resident’s life – from choosing a residency program, to coping with stress, enhancing self-care, and protecting personal and professional relationships. For this 3 part series (read part 2 here, and part 3 here), Dr. Peterkin has provided us with tips from his book, and information on why they are important.

Tips for Regular Sleep

Despite the introduction of work hour limitations across the US and Canada, residents still report disrupted sleep cycles, daytime fatigue and difficulty falling asleep or getting sufficient rest when on call (and even when not on call.)

You won’t have control over how busy your shifts are, but there are some things you can do to protect your sleeping patterns. Here are some tips for dealing with sleep issues so that you can recharge, stay alert and battle fatigue, whatever your level of training:

• Sleep when you can. Follow your body’s cues.

• Prioritize household tasks and check your e-mails later, after you get some sleep.

• Leave work at work. You’ve signed off and signed over care.

• Aim for a consistent post-call sleeping pattern or ritual.

• Take a 20-minute “wind down” period or warm bath before going to bed.

• Reduce the frequency of large meals and intake of greasy foods before retiring, but eat enough to prevent your waking hungry.

• Reduce or eliminate alcohol, caffeine, and tranquilizer consumption before retiring.

• Increase exercise, but not immediately before bedtime.

• Use the bed for sleep only; if you cannot sleep, do something else out of bed and delay your usual bedtime by 1 or 2 hours.

• Close the blinds.

• Shut off your smartphone/laptop. The light emitted by these devices disturbs sleep patterns/melatonin release!

• Use ear plugs, unplug the phone, and make sure the temperature and noise levels of your sleeping quarters are comfortable.

• Check out the LIFE Curriculum for up-to-date articles and stats on managing sleep and fatigue:

L – earning to address

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E – nhance patient safety