July 23, 2006

What keeps me awake at night

Tomorrow is going to be my first day as a medical student. I am excited that I get to meet new people, in the clinic and in school. I am happy about learning medicine. I am disappointed that my life as I know it is drawing to a swift close. I am afraid that my biggest fear will be realized.

Am I afraid that I will look like an idiot in front of my classmates, preceptors and patients? Nope, I've already come to terms with my lack of intelligence. I'm ready to counter it with an overabundance of enthusiasm and curiosity.

Am I afraid of taking tests and studying hard? Nope, I already spend my free time studying medicine (albeit in the casual channels of science and medical blogs) and I'm ready for my swift kick in the arse after relaxing for a year.

Am I afraid of being disillusioned? I might be a little on the idealistic side, but I still have a good dose of realism/cynicism to save me from this sort of emotional burnout.

So what is it that keeps me up at nights worrying? Well, it is precisely that. Not the worrying part, the staying up at nights part! I love sleep. I have this notion that sleep is vital to my health and sanity. I have also theorized that I study better when I read a little bit and rest my eyes soon afterwards, coming up with mnemonics and cool visuals in my head. I like my theta rhythms... they help me learn and maintain memories for long-term potentiation. I am worried that I will spend too much time memorizing things and not enough time understanding them. I am worried that lack of sleep will turn me into a smelly Oscar the Grouch. I am afraid that my 8-10 hours of leisurely delta waves will be lost and I will be forced to rely on coffee/tea/Red Bull for their caffeinated boosts of energy.

I don't like the idea of relying on a stimulant to maintain my energy. If I'm tired, I'd like to go to sleep. I suspect I will be in for some harsh awakenings in the near future.

Here's some links on the subject of sleep and Red Bull!

Pop Science: the Chemistry Behind Red Bull's "Wings"
Retrospectacle takes a look at a can of Red Bull and discovers an ingredient that might provide energy aside from caffeine and sugar.

Everything you wanted to know about sleep (but were too afraid to ask)
The link between morning larks, evening owls, puberty and sex are all put together in this amusing entry by A Blog around the Clock.

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