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Why Sleep Remains a Secret Ingredient for Your Academic Success

When I sat down with triple board-certified sleep medicine doc, Funke Afolabi- Brown, I was shocked to discover that sleep is critical to our academic advancement.


In my first few years in academia, I created time for research by borrowing from the margins of my life. I didn't see any other way. I was seeing patients 5 days a week, fighting the impossible task of catching up to clinic notes, and my youngest was still not sleeping through the night. And when you added my frequent overnight calls for moonlighting, I was burning the candle from all sides. Something had to give. And the path of least resistance was to give up "extra time" spent sleeping.


For us in academic medicine, sleep can be a touchy subject. After all, throughout our medical school and training, we consistently sacrificed sleep for the "greater good." But, despite the conventional wisdom, fighting for our sleep is critical to both our academic and life success. As clinician and scientists, our primary instrument for success is our mind. And for our mind to function optimally, it must be nourished with adequate sleep. 

You probably already know that sleep is important. But to what extent do you recognize that sleep is your academic superpower? 


Dr. Funke Afolabi-Brown, a triple-board certified sleep medicine physician and pediatric pulmonologist shared practical tips to prioritize sleep. In particular she shared the following insights:


  1. The benefits of quality sleep include improved decision-making ability

  2. To enhance our sleep habits we may need to set and enforce sleep boundaries.

  3. To improve sleep in your household, employ the CREATE framework: Consistency, Routine, Environment, Assigning the bed for sleep only, Technology limitations, and Eating habits.


You are a gift to the academic universe. But sometimes, your greatness is masked by exhaustion and chronic sleep deprivation. Healthy sleep habits always start with a decision. As you make the decision to improve your sleep habits, what boundaries do you need to set? This week, I encourage you to use the sleep CREATE framework. 


As your sleep improves, imagine how much more you will radiate your inner brilliance. I shudder to imagine the ripple effects of your sleep-enhanced cognition on your contributions to academic excellence. 


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