① what is it that determines one’s personal need for sleep? is it entirely genetic and pretty much set in stone, like height, or more malleable, like weight and body composition?
② is there any way to modify the amount needed when adulthood has already been reached?
③ what determines whether sleep is sufficient — ability to wake up alarmless? ability to stay awake for long meetings and lectures? just the general feeling of well-being that comes with being rested?
any sleep experts out there reading this? come on, help me out.
i have always been a sleeper. i slept well as a baby, remember always having trouble making it to the end of TGIF TV as a kid, and did a LOT of sleeping through class in middle and high school. my 9th grade math teacher used to ceremoniously bang books on my desk to wake me up, much to my own annoyance and mortification. in college, i was known for my habit of attempting to stay in a conversation with my roommate and other friends while in the top bunk of our bed, and usually ended up saying things semi-conscious that made absolutely no sense.
and somehow i still ended up deciding to go to medical school, pursuing one of the most sleepless fields out there. and it has been a struggle. everyone knows i hate the maddening 30 hour calls, basically involuntarily drifting between states of consciousness by the end no matter how much caffeine has been pumped through my system. but that’s to be expected. what’s more frustrating to me is the fact that even on a ‘normal’ rotation like the one i’m on now, i’m still tired.
i slept during not one but two lectures yesterday — one at 8 AM and another at 12 PM. and they weren’t boring!! i always do fine through the first 30-40 minutes, trying hard to stay actively engaged and pay attention. but the last 5-10 minute chunks always do me in, and i feel really bad about it. in college/medical school, i only rarely slept in lectures — this was because the only thing that works to keep my experience active enough to maintain wakefulness is to take copious notes. continuous note-taking is something that is just not done in resident lectures . . . but maybe i should start my own trend of doing so. i may be branded as the World’s Biggest Nerd, but i probably deserve the title anyway so i might as well embrace it.
last night, i slept 8.5 hours and still did not awaken before the alarm. some of the sluggishness might be leftover from last month’s madness, but it worries me that my natural sleep set point is something like a ridiculous 9 hours. i want to know if there is anything i can do to change this, or — like my crappy vision or left-handedness or 5’1″ height — is it just something i’ll be stuck with forever?
life is short, so i’d rather not sleep through such a large chunk of it. but if it is what i need to do to feel vibrant and awake the rest of the time, it may be worth it. i guess at least i’ll never have insomnia.
workout: 40 minutes elliptical + 20 minutes weights
– pushups, 2 x 10
– squats with ball, 10 lb weights, 2 x 12
– bicep curls on bosu, 12 lb weights, 2 x 12
– walking double lunges, 8 lb weights, 2 x 10
– seated rows, 45 lbs, 2 x 10
– abs: 2 x 15 crunches + 2 x 15 bicycles
doin’ time: i was home alone last night (josh was on call) so i didn’t make anything fancy for myself. but, i took time to prep martha’s tomato sauce with turkey meatballs in preparation for a spaghetti-fest (with my sister + josh) tonight. i didn’t taste, but the meatballs look promising.
reading: chapters 4 – 7 in developmental & behavioral pediatrics