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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Do Vets Get Much Sleep?

Here's an interesting question I received.  Even though the answer is short, I thought it was worth sharing.

I'm an Animal Sciences student at Murdoch Uni in Western Australia and stumbled across your site. I'd firstly like to say a HUGE thank you for clearing up a lot of things for me!

I've been in and out of my dilemma on whether I should do veterinary sciences, but my main question to you was about the amount of sleep you get each day (including weekends).

I'm a huge nutcase when it comes to sleep and was wondering if I could get at least 6-8 hours each night with a veterinary job.

The short answer is "yes".  I typically get about seven hours of sleep per night, but that's mainly because I'm a night owl and have a hard time getting myself to sleep before 11:00pm.  Most vets I know get a recommended amount of sleep.  However, that's going to vary somewhat based on your work situation.

Though I don't do on-call work anymore, I did at the first job I had as a vet.  A few days per week I'd be an on-call doctor, and would have to respond to client calls after closing hours.  Sometimes those could be handled on the phone, but other times I'd have to go into the clinic to deal with an emergency.  On these nights I might end up getting much less sleep because I had to deal with an emergency at 1:00am, then catch a few hours of sleep before being back in the clinic at 9:00am.  If the practice you work for does their own after-hours emergency calls, then you can expect to get less sleep on those nights.  However, typically there are enough doctors to rotate the schedule that you only have this a few times per week.

I would also say that during veterinary college you'll have many relatively sleepless nights due to long studying for exams.  This isn't recommended, as you do better with a good night's sleep than you would staying up all night studying.  But the pressure is intense enough that it's hard to put down the books to sleep when you are worried about your grades.  Thankfully the pressure of school pretty much ends once you graduate.

Otherwise there is nothing about the job that would keep you from getting the desired six to eight hours of sleep.  Stress might keep you up at night, especially for difficult cases and complicated surgeries.  But that reason for sleeplessness is specific to the person and the situation, not inherent to the career.