It’s easy to succumb to the pressure of medical school and quickly become an insomniac. Lifestyle changes help combat insomnia so you get a good night’s sleep.
Even if you’re a resident or doing clinical rotations on the night shift, you can sleep well during the day.
Just follow these tips to combating insomnia so you’re at your best every day.
10 Tips to Help Future Doctors Combat Insomnia
Use these 10 tips to help you combat insomnia and get the rest you need to tackle your daily medical student, clinical rotations and residency tasks:
1. Exercise Daily
Daily exercise is a good way to improve the quality and duration of your sleep. Insomniacs are encouraged to exercise regularly. It reduces insomnia by decreasing anxiety and depressive symptoms.
Exercise stimulates the body. You may not be able to fall asleep immediately after a workout. So, make sure you have adequate time between your exercise and sleep time.
2. Eat/Drink a Few Hours Before Bedtime
Eating before sleeping activates the digestive system, making the body more alert. This may delay your sleep. Drinking a lot before going to bed causes sleep interruptions. You will keep waking up to go to the bathroom. Falling back to sleep may be hard.
So, do not eat or drink within an hour or two before bedtime to help combat insomnia and stay asleep all night.
3. Minimize Stress
Stress is a key cause of insomnia. Try some relaxing remedies before going to bed. These remedies help relax you. That makes it easier to fall asleep.
Do some yoga, deep breathing, meditation, etc…
4. Reduce Naps
Naps may seem like the perfect way to catch up on lost sleep. This is not necessarily true. Unplanned naps negatively affect your sleep schedule. Get too much sleep during the day, and you’ll probably suffer from insomnia all night long.
It’s important to have a sleep schedule. And to stick to it. This allows your body to train itself to sleep at a specific time. Naps will only mess up the pattern.
So, create sleep schedule and stay on it.
5. Have a Consistent Wake-Up Time
Keep a consistent wake-up time to train your body to wake up at a particular time each day. Even on weekends when tempted to sleep in, stick to your wake up and sleep schedules.
Fight the feeling and wake up at your scheduled time to keep the sleep pattern constant.
6. Engage in Cognitive Therapy
Cognitive therapy, also known as cognitive behavior therapy, helps insomniacs do away with all negative thoughts and activities that contribute to insomnia. You also learn about sleep behaviors, age-related sleep patterns and how to set sleep goals.
Learn more about cognitive behavioral therapy from the National Sleep Foundation.
7. No ‘Worry Time’ in Bed
Take time after dinner to ponder over your day and plan for the next day. Then, let it all go before bedtime.
Thinking and worrying will have your brain working and keep you up. So, always go to bed with a clear mind.
8. Have Limited Activities in Bed
The bed is strictly for sleeping and sex. All other activities are banned from the bed. This includes doing homework, studying for the USMLEs, etc…
These activities increase your alertness and may delay your sleep. Therefore, keep such activities out of the bedroom during sleep time.
9. Limit Alcohol & Stimulants
Ask your doctor when is the right time to take prescribed medication that contains stimulants, like asthma inhalers and decongestants. You must minimize their effects on your sleep.
Caffeine keeps you awake for long hours when you need it. But it also affects the quality of your sleep at the end of the day. It makes you wake up a number of times at night. And it’s not always easy to back to sleep, leaving you with insomnia. So, limit caffeine consumption or give it up altogether.
Alcohol may knock you out for a couple of hours after consuming it. But later, you may experience interrupted sleep. You tend to wake up multiple times during the night. So, don’t drink alcohol as your sleep aid to combat insomnia.
10. Have a Comfortable Sleeping Space
Everything in your bedroom, including the light and temperature, should be sleep conducive. Conditions that will keep you asleep all through the night.
Anything that makes noise, like pets, or makes you uncomfortable, leave it outside the bedroom. Even TV can disturb your sleep and cause insomnia.
Follow these tips to help you combat insomnia for good, quality sleep. That way, you’re energetic enough to make it through another day of medical school, clinical rotations or your residency.
Get More Tips for Med Students & Residents
Want more tips to help you get through your residency, clinical rotations or medical school?
Submit the form below to follow the MedSmarter blog.