SLEEP DEPRIVATION

I’m drunk all the time.

I’m drunk all day long.

I’ve been drunk for weeks now.

Not really. I’m just sleep deprived, but if feels the same.

I was born an hypersommniac. I doubt that word exists for real but it’s what describes me. I love to sleep, it’s the ultimate pleasure for me. I love the feeling of slowly falling asleep and never knowing exactly when you fall, I love my vivid, colourful long dreams, I love my comfy bed. And although right now I said that with a somewhat nostalgic tone, I remember myself thinking this even when I’ve been in vacations and do nothing all day. Even when not tired at all, I could put my head on a pillow and fall fast asleep within minutes at almost any hour. I’m borderline narcoleptic. I’m able to sleep over 17 hours in a row if I get the chance. My mom says she never slept more as when she was pregnant with me. I was born to sleep. I believe insomnia is the worst torture ever.

Still, I would conform with the regular 6 – 7 hours a night sleep time. But ironically I ended up choosing things that go against my nature. Like being a medical intern.

I’m currently doing 36 hour shifts every third day, and still working 16 hours a day when there’s no shift. That’s over 120 hours a week. That’s an average of 3 – 4 hours of sleep when there’s no shift, and ZERO on the shift. There’s no more monday, tuesday, wednesday. Now there’s only Pre-shift day, shift day, post-shift day. I swear today I thought it was thursday.

It’s not even the fact that I’m not sleeping. If I could still lie on bed during the hours I’m not sleeping, it wouldn’t be that bad. But the physical exhaustion is a big problem. My muscles hurt from head to toe. I have cramps on my legs. My nutritional requirements have increased amazingly because of this. Since the internship started I’ve been eating twice as normal, sometimes lunch two times, I carry all kind of food to eat at any time, I’m ALWAYS hungry in an abnormal way. But I have not increased a single kg, so I don’t know where all that is going.

I don’t know if I’ve suffered so much through this rotation because 1) my sleep addiction, and 2) because I freak out pretty easily. But when I look at this routine from outside, it seems like hell for any person, and even thought nobody has had a public freak out like I did one sunny day, I’ve seen my internship mates slowly fall apart. I’m not going to say exactly what they do, but, lets say that if my way to deal with something like this is to have a panic attack and lose control of my self, they have their own ways, but in the end it’s all the same. Near the end of the shift, I can also see my fellow interns speaking incoherently and with a scary look.

Wow, this is the people who’ll get to treat you. You patients, are screwed up. Look what I found:

After 24 hours of wakefulness, cognitive function deteriorates to a level equivalent to having a 0.1% blood alcohol level. These doctors would be considered too unsafe to drive; yet they could still treat patients for 12 more hours.

What kind of job is this I ask? Suffering the mental torture of not being able to sleep, while having this enormous responsibility and then get sued because they screwed up.

I just can’t understand why people keep doing it and don’t say anything to change it.

I try to fight and yell but it seems like everybody else, although suffering, doesn’t want it to change. Apparently I’m alone on this.

Links:

Don’t Overwork Physicians

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9 thoughts on “SLEEP DEPRIVATION

  1. *hugs* I totally feel for you. I remember when I had severe insomnia for a month I’d get on average 4 hours sleep in 3 days. I seriously thought I was going insane. Much of that time I don’t remember, actually. I was working at a hospital too but not your crazy shifts so I can only imagine having to do a 36 hour one. I have sometimes asked doctors when I’ve been in the ER how long they’ve been awake because it really is a concern for me. How can they treat me on no sleep in the last 40 hours? It’s insane.

    I wish something could be done. Are there regulations on the maximum amount of hours doctors are allowed to be on shift for?

    Love,

    Li

    p.s. Now I’m off to read your “About” page ’cause it looks like you’re Hispanic just like me. 🙂

  2. No no limit at all! Some months ago, whenever something bad happened in the shift, the intern responsible of it wasn’t allowed to go home after the 36 hours and had to do a double shift. This situation did cause many complains after you could not tell which person was an intern and which one was an schizophrenic escaping from the mental unit anymore, so they had to stop it, not because they wanted to but because they were afraid of any legal consequences.

    So I guess you can say the limit is 36 to 40 hours, for interns at least. I think older residents have had to stay longer sometimes.

    Well, I have another shift tomorrow so I better go to sleep now that I have the chance! 🙂

  3. that’s ridiculous! i know there’s a shortage of doctors around the world, but still… and i wonder why so many people still want to be doctors! 😡

  4. It’s a small thing compared to all the stuff you’re dealing with, but if you can get your hands on it, it might help. I found an amazing over-the-counter medication called Crampex. I don’t know what’s in it or how it works, but fuck, it WORKS. It’s not a pain killer, but it helps stop cramps in your muscles when you’re sleeping. I generally lie awake at night in tears, feeling physically ill from the pain caused by my muscles cramping, but this stuff sorts it. I don’t know if it’s available all over the world and I’ve never seen it advertised (my husband happened to notice it one day and bought it for me to try), but if you can get it, give it a go.

  5. best of luck , just remember that life aint always got to be like that, i am slowly coming out of insomnia myself, i used non-prescription drugs, but it was the remembering of a time when life was…full of more sleep that got me there…and as my boss once said, we all do it, why? because that is the road to the degree.

    just remember you are young and that one day like the rest of us you will be goin, remember those times when we worked those 40 hour shifts…

  6. That really sucks! Was truly the wrong career choice for a pro sleeper! lol Sleeping disorders would be a good speciality though!

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