Friday, 21 December 2012

Visions of revision that conquer my mind

Sleeplessness has been an on-off problem for me over the years. The insomnia reached its peak during my MSc when I physically just could not get to sleep most nights, and especially the nights before the days when I had classes (we had classes a few days a week) - but on those two or three nights, I genuinely felt trapped in insomnia hell.

At first I wasn't entirely sure what was causing this sleeplessness, it was genuinely baffling for me - was I waking up too late in the day? Was I having too many cups of tea throughout the day? Was I secretly in love without knowing it? Pretty soon however I worked out that far from it being a case of Visions of Johanna which kept me up past the dawn, the reason for lying in bed with eyes wide open for several hours a night was simply because I was dreading having to go in the next day and face having to feel totally thick in a lab where I had no clue what I was doing.

Anyway, once I got into medicine, things settled down and I began sleeping like a baby - no stress, genuine contentment, what more could you ask for? Even during term time, with all its early starts and the feeling of being constantly overwhelmed what with starting a new course in a new town, I still didn't find getting to sleep to be a problem.

Of course, I hadn't taken the influence of exams into account (see previous post) - something which over the past week or so has taken insomnia to whole new levels. Last night I could not get to sleep til past 5 AM. Woke up at 11:15 this morning and I feel rough as hell. I'm not even sure why I'm being kept up: logic tells me that formative exams which do not count do not carry any sort of lethal consequences with them (getting kicked out, etc) and that furthermore that I am, for the most part, on target with my revision plans. And I've still got 2.5 weeks til exams, which isn't bad.

But I still can't kick the feeling that I'm not doing enough, that I'm unwittingly missing out details, that I'm just working on the wrong lines, that there's too much to revise and it'll never be done on time. That's what's keeping me up, and whilst the logical side of my mind knows that these are all normal concerns, my scumbag brain still won't let me get to sleep.

But there's one small bright side: at least now I'm being kept up by something which I genuinely love doing, as opposed to something I dislike. That's not too bad. But I certainly wish I could sleep at night all the same.


  1. Damn, sorry to hear about that scumbag brain! Hope things settle down a bit for you...

    Perhaps you need some good-guy valium ;P

  2. Haha oh bless you - 'was I secretly in love without knowing it'.

    You know what, I think its literally because we're getting used to a new way of learning now. Also, new exam style, new way of organising information. Its totally ok to be panicked but I honestly think, as soon as you've done the formative, you'll get your bearings much more. Its just the newness of it, not really knowing yet what your lecturers are expecting. With our BSc and your MSc it wasn't as bad because you learned what was expected of you by each lecturer throughout the years so at least you knew where you stood.

    Medicine? Whole different ball game. One you'll play great.

    Scumbag brain is just unsettled at the unfamiliar situation. Also it'll never feel like enough work because, unlike biomed, you've had massive amounts of information hurled at you from which you only need certain principles and ideas. It baffles me actually when we get given crazy in-depth lectures and then I look at the learning objectives that literally summarise tops a paragraph of information. People in my group have to keep dragging me away from biomed-ing everything and keeping it surface enough for medicine (and my sanity).

    Good-guy valium sounds cool ;) Or, better yet, the over-the- counter-friendly good-guy Nytol.

    Hang in there, Grumpy. You're going to be awesome :)

  3. Firstly, congrats on getting into medical school; quite the achievement in itself!
    One way I learned to managed to get the vital sleep during my studies, to synthesise what I'd learned during the day, was to take some physical activity that wears your body out. The fatigue helps you drop off despite the Scumbag Brain Syndrome (SBS). Your SU should offer a range of sports, classes, or gym equipment, or you could go for a simple (and cheap) run around the park!
    It also provides you with an in to the inescapable paradigm that doctors have to be in a reasonable physical shape to do their job for the best outcome for the patient.
    Keep up the good work, and don't forget the physical and academic balance.

  4. Thanks for the words of encouragement guys!

    I never found Nytol to be particularly didn't make getting to sleep any easier though it did make me feel a lot drowsier the next morning...definitely not what I want to be experiencing now :P

    @A Friend: Great advice, cheers!