The one simple life hack that can be a game-changer in whether or not you make it to medical school has to do with something most pre-meds take for granted – sleep. And if you’re going around thinking you’re Puff Daddy talking about, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” then you need to read this.
As Arianna Huffington, author and co-founder of The Huffington Post, put it, “Sleep is essentially like bringing in the overnight cleaning crew to clear the toxic waste proteins that accumulate between brain cells during the day.” Hopefully, this notion will help to convince you to change your ways.
If pre-meds were graded on whether or not they were getting enough sleep, most would straight up fail. In fact, some may even pride themselves on it. Every medical school candidate wants to be the one with the right mix of characteristics, qualities, and smarts to get accepted into medical school. You strive to perform your best in everything you do, and do what you think needs to be done. But how can you plan for success when you’re bound to have good days and bad days? Better yet, how can you do better than you’ve done, and succeed when the stakes are high? Those striving to get into medical school have a reputation for burning the midnight oil, and with very good intentions – it takes a lot of dedication, time, and other variables to make sure you are putting your best foot forward as a potential medical school candidate. But, if you’re thinking that sacrificing those hours of sleep are going to pay off in the long run, think again.
Essentially every part of your life benefits from getting an adequate amount of sleep.
By simply getting some more sleep, the things you need to be a better pre-med and ultimately a better medical student and doctor, like critical- thinking skills, confidence, the ability to make decisions, and good concentration and memory (to name a few), can all be improved. Studies have shown that by lack of sleep can lead to an irreversible loss of brain cells, for crying out loud. What more do you need to hear to make the decision to get more sleep if you’re not already doing so?
So, here’s the trick. If you think as a pre-med, who has no time to waste sleeping, think of sleep as work, like you do your school work and everything else you have to do as a pre-med. In a podcast interview with author David Kadavy, neuroscientist John Kounios said: “Sleep is not doing nothing. Sleep is mental work. Sleep is creative work. Your brain is churning over memories, its clearing out the mental cobwebs – it’s generating ideas. Sleep is itself work. So if a person’s trying to solve a problem, and they take a name to sleep on it, that’s not working on the problem, that is working on the problem.” And on that note, in the words of Andre Gide, “everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again.”