Medical Residents Experience Sleep Deprivation

OCTOBER 01, 2004

Sleep deprivation is a common problem experienced by medical residents. A study, reported in Psychiatric News (August 6, 2004), found that physicians in training at US hospitals go through their first 2 years of residency in "a nearly continuous state of chronic partial sleep deprivation." A survey of >1600 residents found that physicians across all specialties averaged 5.7 hours of sleep a night during the first year of residency and only 13.8 minutes more in their second year.

Specifically, the survey indicated that pathology residents received the most sleep?an average of 6.9 hours a night, compared with 5 hours of sleep a night experienced by general surgery residents. Recent regulations enacted by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education limit residents to 80 work hours a week. Although the 80-hour rule hypothetically will allow residents more sleep, " it is not clear that this will be the case," stressed the researchers.