Friday, January 18, 2008

Surviving Overnight Call

There are probably numerous anecdotal reports out there about how to survive a post-call afternoon. I am too delirious to do the work of finding and/or categorizing them right now. Anyone have any tips?

For those outside of medicine, post-call is the afternoon after you were up most of the night caring for hospital patients. My two previous rotations only required me to stay at the hospital until midnight. Inpatient medicine is another story. I am at the hospital for 30 hour shifts twice a week.

While I am in the hospital, I'm pretty sure my cognition is around my baseline. I cannot however say that I am used to being post-call yet.

The first time I pushed through the afternoon with caffeine, went to bed early and woke up groggy at 3 AM. The next experiment involved cutting the caffeine at 10 AM (I am on until 1:00), taking a brief nap when I got home, exercising somewhere in there and then going to bed at a normal hour. In those cases, I got 4-5 hours in the hospital sleep room. Last night, I only got 2-3 hours. I promptly crashed for 3 hours when I got home, completed a rather lame attempt at a workout and now am still awake...

I have tried to eat my regular 3 balanced meals, but when you are up for strange hours, I think another meal or snack needs to be thrown into the mix. We must also consider the regularity and balance offered by hospital cafeteria cuisine.

Anyone out there have any tips? You should know that I have a celebrated history (as an undergraduate) of conducting all-nighters without much difficulty or consequence. I haven't decided if my difficulty these days is that I'm 1) out of practice or 2) old.

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