Sleep Disorders

12 March 2008

Doctors not getting enough sleep

A new survey indicates that most physicians report needing at least 7 hours of sleep per night, yet they only get 6.5 hours on average.

A new survey released by the American College of Chest Physicians' Sleep Institute indicates that most physicians report needing at least 7 hours of sleep per night, yet they only get 6.5 hours on average.

"Call hours during training and in the practice of medicine desensitise physicians to the importance of sleep. The pervasive message is that sleep is optional or dispensable," Dr Barbara Phillips, Chair of the ACCP Sleep Institute, said in a statement. "Self sacrifice also may be seen as part of the lifestyle. This may impact physicians' awareness of their own, and their patients', sleep deprivation lifestyles."

The findings come from an internet-based questionnaire sent to 5000 US doctors. A total of 581 doctors responded.

The physicians reported that the sleep lost during the work week was made up for by sleeping longer on weekends or days off with an average of 7.5 hours per night.

Work schedule to blame
About 43 percent of physicians said they could not get adequate sleep due to their work schedule. Doctors seldom reported insomnia or difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep, but 21.8 percent did report not feeling refreshed upon waking.

Most physicians said that the lack of sleep did not adversely affect their work performance, but 18 percent said that it caused them to miss family or leisure activities.

The results also indicate that physicians use more caffeine than do their patients. A comparison of the ACCP survey findings with that of the 2008 National Sleep Foundation "Sleep in America" poll revealed that 93 percent of physicians have at least one caffeinated drink per day compared with 81 percent of the general population.

The average number of caffeinated beverages consumed by physicians and in the general population, however, was comparable, roughly 3 servings per day. Habit was cited by 83.3 percent of physicians as the principle reason they used caffeine.

Physicians were more likely than the general population to report being in very good or excellent health: 83.6 percent vs. 56.0 percent. - (Reuters Health)

Read more:
Sleep time badly misjudged
Sleep Centre

March 2008


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Dr Alison Bentley is a general practitioner who has consulted in sleep medicine and sleep disorders, in both adults and children of all ages, for almost 30 years. She also researches and publishes on a number of sleep-related topics both in formal research journals and lay publications including as editor of Sleep Matters, an educational newsletter on sleep disorders for doctors.

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