Residency

Call rotation hurts resident sleep and working memory capacity

Residency Program Insider, December 15, 2009

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A new study shows that residents on rotations requiring 30-hour call every fourth night for a month have reduced working memory capacity (WMC) and report feeling more sleepy, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

The study took place over two months; one during which residents were on call and one during which they were not. Residents completed daily WMC tests, wore actigraphy watches (used to determine sleep patterns and circadian rhythms), and kept a sleep log.

Residents reported getting on average 6.4 hours of sleep per night while on-call compared to 7.3 hours per night when not on call. During the on-call months, residents self-reported feeling more sleepy and had reduced WMC recall scores, according to researchers. More math errors also occurred when on call.

Although clinical errors were not evaluated, researchers say decreased WMC could result in impaired judgment.



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