Battling Fatigue in Medical SchoolMarch 1, 2014
Battling Fatigue in Medical School
Many students in their undergraduates studies have pull a few all-nighters in order to finish their study cram session or complete that mid-term research paper. However, once you find yourself admitted to medical school, your schedule and the energy required to make it through your studies and duties can drive even the most enthusiastic medical student to fatigue and exhaustion. Let’s review some signs of fatigue and what you can do to battle and conquer this tiring feeling.
Signs of Fatigue:
Sometimes we when are tired, it’s hard to pay attention and be mindful of our own behavior. However, pause right now, and do a quick self check-in to see if you might be suffering from fatigue:
- Are you feeling more irritable than usual?
- Do you find yourself dozing off at inappropriate times?
- Are you feeling restless and unable to stay still?
- Are you relying on your go-to caffeine source more than usual?
- Does your mind wander more often than usual?
- Have you gotten less than the daily recommended amount of sleep (8 hours) for more than two weeks?
If you find yourself answering YES to these questions, and you cannot identify a specific source for why you’ve answered YES, then you might be suffering from fatigue.
How to Combat a Severe Case of Sleepiness
Medical schools have known for years that the grueling schedule of medical training has been problematic for many an aspiring doctor. They have implemented special programs and regulations to ensure that medical students are taking care of their sleep health. In addition to the supports available at your medical school, consider these tips to ensure you’re getting enough rest:
- Purposefully build sleep time into your schedule. You’ve mapped out your class schedule, reading schedule, and study schedule. Sleep time is no less important, for it ensures that your performance during these learning times is optimal. Put sleep on your schedule and stick to meeting that appointment. It’s one you don’t want to miss.
- Watch those naps. Naps are tricky. When strategically planned, they can serve to energize and refresh you. When not planned, you may wake up feeling jet-lagged and even more tired than before. Because your body’s sleep cycle requires a certain amount of sleep to feel rested, waking up in the middle of a cycle can actually harm your sleep patterns. Do your research, and experiment a few times on finding the right nap time and nap length to beat your fatigue. When in doubt, seek out the experts at your medical school to assist you in the process.
- Energizing food is critical. Though it’s tempting to drink more caffeine when your fatigue kicks in, head for your refrigerator or pantry instead. Keep it stocked with energizing foods, and allow nature to fight your fatigue battles. Foods such as yogurt, nuts, citrus fruits, and lean meats will provide you with a protein boost that will sustain you in a way that caffeine does not. You can still enjoy a cup or two of coffee, but vary your diet to include these brain boosters too.
You don’t want to spend your medical school training in a cloud of sleepiness, so if you’re feeling overtaken by fatigue, take the time to slow down and assess your health. Your body, classmates, and patients will thank you for it. — Post by Madelaine Kingsbury.