March 4, 2015
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
Medical school can be tough physically, mentally and emotionally. There is a lot of work to do, which may cause you to stay up late studying or skip sleep altogether. In addition, you may be so busy you slack on exercise and eat the easiest thing you find, such as fast food or vending machine cuisine.
Although it can be easy to neglect your health during med school, it can cause problems. The combination of stress and lack of sleep can easily lead to fatigue. It is hard to do your best when you are tired all the time. Regardless of how busy you get, your health has to be a priority. Consider some of the following ways to take care of yourself and fight fatigue.
One of the best things you can do to combat sleep deprivation is sleep. Sounds like a no-brainer, but getting eight hours of sleep on most nights is not always possible in med school. So what can you do? While walking around like a zombie is one option, there are also better choices.
Sleep deprivation is cumulative. If you don’t get enough sleep one night, you may be OK But if you keep shorting yourself on shuteye, you will feel the toll it takes. The best thing you can do is make up for lost sleep the next night. For instance, if you stay up all night studying, try to get to sleep early the next night.
Also, consider taking short power naps when you can. Don’t sleep too long because it may prevent you from getting to sleep at night. But a short nap can help. Limit naps to less than an hour.
It is also helpful to develop good sleep habits. Spend some time winding down before going to bed. If you study right up until your head hits the pillow, you may still be wired and have trouble drifting off to dreamland. Instead of working just before bedtime, do something relaxing before, such as reading, taking a bath or just sitting and listening to music.
Exercise may be the last thing on your mind when you feel fatigued, but it can give you energy. Getting regular exercise can fight stress, build stamina and help you sleep better. Even if you are busy, do your best to find time to exercise at least 20 minutes on most days of the week. Find an activity you like, which may help you stick with it.
What you eat and drink can also contribute to fatigue. For example, drinking too much caffeine can prevent you from falling asleep. Too much alcohol can also interfere with restful sleep. It may help you fall asleep initially, but it can prevent deep sleep and cause you to wake up frequently during the night. In addition, eating a well-balanced diet of protein, healthy grains, fruits and veggies can also provide your body with the nutrients you need to fight fatigue.