If you snooze, you don't lose

May 1, 2006

When you find a colleague sleeping by the reading console, don't bother the resting soul. A 20-minute snooze during the night shift can make the difference between finding and missing pathology.

When you find a colleague sleeping by the reading console, don't bother the resting soul. A 20-minute snooze during the night shift can make the difference between finding and missing pathology.

Naps are back in fashion, according to an editorial in The Lancet (2006;367:448). The missive arrives on the heels of an unpopular European law that mandates trainee docs work night shifts.

It also follows publication of a night-shift survival guide for junior doctors by Nicholas Horrocks and Roy Pounder at the Royal College of Physicians. The guide, according to the editorial, is "practical common sense informed by science."

You can't beat your circadian rhythms, so you might as well work with them. That means napping (no more than 45 minutes), working with maximum light exposure, sleeping successfully during the daytime, and devising an intelligent eating plan.

Who knows, you might even begin to dread the day shift. Sweet dreams . . .