Can you truly thrive on sleepless Nights?

The simple answer: You can’t.

I spent the last 24 hours on call as an emergency doctor, meaning I work when there is an emergency and I sleep when there isn’t.

People tell me there’s a way for me to sneak in a little sleep, but the truth is, I can’t.

Recently, after I came home from a shift, I went to have breakfast with my dad. As we sat together talking about life, I admitted to him that in my 20s, I used to work through the night and not bother going to bed. After work, it was not unusual for me to go out partying with my friends. And without missing a beat, I would go back to work in the morning.

This sleepless routine would kill me now.

I feel old at 41 🙂

Honestly, for years I didn’t realize the toll my former work life took on my overall well-being. I was used to pressure. I could function well.

Until I broke and couldn’t function anymore.

I didn’t notice I was going down a slippery slope into dis-ease, but dis-ease woke me up.

After I left the system I was part of for 13 years as a surgeon, I needed 9 months to recover and recharge.

The point is, it’s not only the loss of sleep that beats you down but the other energetic stuff you carry with you, as well.

We all have things we don’t want or think we can’t deal with in our lives. They draw energy from us, too. And when you don’t have enough energy to begin with due to lack of sleep, you get sick. Period. End of story.

It was only after my 9-month recovery that I realized how many people in my surroundings followed the same sleepless routine I did. For me, this was normal.

After I finally quit, I felt guilty to have the luxury of enough sleep every night.

Now when I take calls, I pace myself better. I know exactly how much I can do, and I allow myself to rest and be lazy the day after. No appointments. Just long walks with the dog, cooking for friends or time with my horse.

I need to be outside. And I’m not very patient. So I don’t talk about problems. Decisions made with a lack of sleep are crap (at least in my case). And besides, I’ve realized that when I’m exhausted I can’t decide on anything. This is something that has to wait.

Yet, after a good night’s sleep, it’s a different story. When I am well rested, I’m ready to roll again.

It took me some time to get there and realize this. It is crucial for me to set inner standards and hold myself accountable to them.

What about you? How does lack of sleep affect your mood, your energy levels, your decision-making skills?

It makes a bigger difference than you might realize.

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Showing 2 comments
  • stuy1974

    I used to think 5-6 hours a night was easily enough as I didn’t like wasting time asleep!!! Then I married a wonderful woman who loves her sleep. I now sleep 8+ hours a night and I’m a different person. Much more relaxed, present and chilled out… Just goes to show 🙂

    • Dr. Tiny Jaentsch

      Good for you 🙂

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