If there is one practical advice I would like to tell first to Med students, it is: Develop a sleeping habit!
Yes, you read that right. Not study habit. Not testmanship. Not eating habits. First, learn to sleep!
Maybe other students could make it through day one to day thirty-three with the least amount of sleep a normal person could possibly endure, but for you, my fellow Med students out there, please, sleep well.
Because if you prioritize your sleep, your tendency is to rearrange everything in your daily and weekly schedule. You will cut off the hours you spend in social media sites. You will allot a specific time for social activities—you will learn to choose well. You will not lax. You will not be mediocre. You will strive to study smart; because studying hard is inclined into sacrificing sleep. Studying smart tells you that sleep is as important as knowledge.
. . .
Y’know, I’ve been there, done that. I can no longer count the loss I had in my two years in Med school because of the lack of sleep—the lack of giving importance to sleep, rather. If sleep is an investment, then sacrificing your sleep will surely make you bankrupt. Sleep when you need to. Sleep because you need it. Do not just kick off sleep as if it’s a useless thing in your life.
. . .
We know as Med students that sleep is an essential part in our body’s normal physiology. Our bodies need sleep because it is its way of replenishing the lost energy we spent in a whole day. When we do not feel well, our bodies will push that “sleep” button so that it could do its remarkable job of warding off the impending illness. Physiologically speaking, sleep is a must.
In order to do this, I found out that you have to be in tune with your body. You must learn when is the best time and on what conditions/environment you learn best, so that you could schedule when you should sleep. Learn when your body calls out for rest or sleep. Do not deprive your body of the simple and yet crucial factors to perform well, better, and excellently.
During my second year in Med school, I discovered that my body needs a complete and uninterrupted eight-hour sleep for me to function normally during the day. Being a night owl, I really found this so difficult; it was a real struggle to be reconciled with this notion that I am speaking about right now. Later on, after so many failed attempts to prove this theory and finally succeeding to prove it right and true, I began to sleep better, thus study with better retention of information.
Though the previous year was also a season of depression to me (to which I will elaborate on future blog posts), it was strangely the season of discoveries too. This year’s summer was the sort-of-ultimatum in the discovery of my sleeping habits. I found out that my body just needs a complete and uninterrupted four-hour sleep. If I have more time, make it eight. But bottom-line, it has to be four hours—uninterrupted. I don’t know the reason why, but that’s how my body adapted to the demands of Med school. And I know and believe that your body knows how to adapt too—without ever sacrificing sleep. Your body needs it as much as it needs food.
So please sleep. Constantly strive to sleep well.
I hope you don’t smirk at this and say, “Lucky for you,” because it is attainable; it is not impossible. It is practical, too. You may not see its practicality now, but depriving yourself of sleep will take its toll on you later…you’ll never know how and when. Noah Weinberg, a Jewish rabbi, said:
“To become a great human being requires applying your mind constantly, until it pervades every fiber of your being.
So what about relaxing?
Of course it’s okay to relax. But relaxing means ‘changing gears.’ Your relaxation should be purposeful and directed. Think of something else that’s not as exerting, but is still meaningful. For example, shift your focus to nature, music or art. Sometimes, even a simple change of scenery, a cold drink, or a breathe of fresh air is enough to recharge your batteries.”
Therefore, sleep because you must.
(Featured photo: taken by J. Angeles)