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Physicians Say They Need More Sleep
Date:3/8/2008

Work schedules a culprit, and docs use more caffeine than patients, too

FRIDAY, March 7 (HealthDay News) -- American doctors aren't getting the amount of sleep they need to function at their best, and work schedules may be one of the reasons for that lack of sleep, a new analysis suggests.

An Internet survey of 581 doctors found that the physicians reported sleeping an average of 6.5 hours a night during their work week, but most said they needed at least 7 hours of sleep a night. The doctors said they made up for lost sleep on weekends or on days off by sleeping an average of 7.5 hours a night.

Other findings from the survey, released this week by the American College of Chest Physicians Sleep Institute:

  • 43.1 percent of respondents said their current work schedule didn't allow time for adequate sleep.
  • Respondents rarely reported insomnia or difficulty getting to sleep or maintaining sleep, but 21.8 percent said that, at least a few times a week, they didn't feel refreshed when they woke up in the morning.
  • The doctors reported more caffeine consumption than the general population -- 93 percent of them reported having at least one caffeinated beverage a day, compared with 81 percent of the general population. Most doctors said they used caffeine out of habit, rather than to help boost wakefulness.

"Call hours during training and in the practice of medicine desensitize 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 prepared 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 upside of chronic self-imposed sleep deprivation is that it essentially eliminates insomnia complaints," Phillips noted. "Although adequate
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