[Day 7] Sleep better

Are you sleeping less in order to try to get a jump start on your next day?  Are you staying up late to get through your emails that have piled up or to finish your charting you’ve fallen behind on?

Maybe you’re just staying up because you feel like you deserve to relax from your hectic day by watching the latest Netflix program recommended by your friends.  Sleep is actually an important component of your daily health habits.

We need a good night’s sleep not only to feel rested for the next day, but research has shown multiple health benefits from getting quality sleep on a regular basis.  Sleep needs vary, but getting too much sleep, like regularly sleeping more than 9 hours per night, can have more risks than benefits.  It’s best to aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night to reap the maximum health benefits.

Here are some reasons sleep is so crucial for your health:

  • Improves brain function:  When you’re on call at the hospital and are running on little to no sleep, have you ever noticed that you have trouble thinking or coming up with words?  That’s because sleep plays a huge part in memory and learning.  During sleep, your brain is preparing for the next day.  It’s when new brain pathways are formed to help improve focus, creativity, our learning ability and problem-solving skills.
  • Improves your mood:  Your mood during the day is largely affected by how well you slept the night before.  According to the American Sleep Association, inadequate sleep contributes to feeling irritated, forgetful and fatigued.  This leads to having a lower tolerance and overreaction to common stressors.  Sleep deprivation leads to more fluctuations in feelings and can lead to feeling more anxious and depressed.
  • Stabilizes your blood sugar:  Your glucose levels drop while you’re in a deep, slow-wave sleep cycle.  When you don’t get enough time in deep sleep, your body doesn’t have time to reset and will have a harder time stabilizing your blood sugars.  This can result in increased insulin resistance and increased blood sugar levels which can increase your risk for type 2 diabetes.
  • Supports your immune system:  Sleep plays an important role in your innate and adaptive immunity.  While you’re sleeping, cytokine production increases in order to help fight infection.  Not enough sleep may decrease production of cytokines and decrease infection fighting antibodies resulting in lowered immunity and ability to fight infection.  Your sleep plays a huge role in your immunity!
  • Supports heart health:  Lack of sleep can cause your body to release cortisol and puts more stress on your heart.  According to a 2011 study by the American Heart Association, poor sleep quality is linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for heart disease.  The better quality sleep you get, the healthier your heart will be!
  • Helps with weight control:  When you don’t get enough sleep, your body produces ghrelin, a hormone which boosts appetite.  Your body also decreases production of leptin, a hormone that tells your body you’re full.  Put that unhelpful combo together and your resistance to the temptation of healthy foods goes way down!  Also,  when you’re tired, you’re less likely to want to move your body and exercise.
  • Improves your productivity:  If you’re like me, you’ve probably stayed up late many nights either finishing incomplete charts or doing what you can to get ahead for the next day’s charting.  In the past, I’ve spent hours late at night trying to complete one minor task due to my inefficiency from falling asleep over and over again at the keyboard.  Ugh!  Lack of sleep puts us at higher risk for making mistakes at work.  As physicians, one small mistake can lead to a fatal outcome for our patients.  Sleep has been linked to improved concentration and higher cognitive function, both qualities that are necessary to be productive and successful in our line of work as physicians.

Getting a good night of rest is indisputably one easy habit you can tweak in your hectic daily routine to improve your overall health!

Ready to defeat burnout…

…and renew your passion and love for medicine?

Do you feel paralyzed by feelings of desperation and aren’t sure how you can keep going if things don’t change?

Has your relentless schedule and the high stress demands of your job changed you into someone you no longer recognize?

Have you lost your passion and love for medicine?

If so, I want you to know that there’s a way to manage it all AND feel better without sacrificing your needs or your relationships with your loved ones.


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