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    Don’t skimp on sleep: The consequences of sleep deprivation

     

    How about the data? Is there anything in the literature to suggest that sleep affects performance?

    A consensus report from the Association of Professional Sleep Societies shows a strong link between lack of sleep and increased risk of vehicular accidents (falling asleep at the wheel) as well as performance accidents, especially in the nuclear community. (The incidents at Three Mile Island, Oak Harbor, and Rancho Seco were all compounded by operator errors attributed to lack of sleep). A military study involving F-117 pilots deprived of one night of sleep showed that the number of pilot-related errors doubled. Additionally, the data suggests that 28 hours of sleep deprivation results in motor performance decline equivalent to a blood alcohol level of 0.1!

    So, what am I going to do? Start going to the gym at 4:30 every morning and doing laps? Join my girls in gymnastics lessons so I can compete against Simone Biles in Toyko in 2020? Not likely. I think instead I’ll work with my call scheduler to ensure that on days before big cases, I’m not on call. I’ll pay a little more attention to what I eat, especially on days when my performance needs to be perfect. I’m not going to go so far as to say I’ll start working out; there are only so many hours in the day and anyways, chasing four kids under 5 around the house seems like enough of a workout.

    Most importantly, the lesson I took from Dr. Cabin’s article was not that I am an athlete, but rather I am human. But like an athlete, my performance in the OR and in clinic can be influenced by what I do outside the hospital. And since my patients stake their lives on my performance, I need to be at the top of my game.

    Henry Rosevear, MD
    Dr. Rosevear, a member of the Urology Times Clinical Practice Board, is in private practice at Pikes Peak Urology, Colorado Springs, CO.

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