While working long hours and with different shift patterns, doctors can get sleep deprived. This is especially true if they work in an emergency department.
In some cases, a doctor will be able to go home to get some rest, but this is not always the case. In some instances, a doctor will be required to stay overnight at the hospital. This can be either in on-call rooms or in formal hospital accommodation. I've spent many a night under a thin blanket in the doctor's mess trying to get some shut-eye only to be woken up by the 'beep beep' of my pager signalling that I'm needed on a ward. It's not a pleasant way to spend a night.
Sleep deprivation is bad for everyone. It leads to burnout and has been linked to mistakes in medicine. For example, a study found that residents who are sleep deprived are eight times more likely to make medication errors than those who get adequate amounts of rest. Additionally, sleep-deprived physicians are more than three times as likely to cause motor vehicle accidents if they drive while tired.
For patients who have to spend the night in a hospital, sleep can be difficult due to disruptions and discomfort. But there are things patients can do to improve their chances of getting a good night's rest. One suggestion is to bring a pillow and blanket to help with comfort. Also, having a notebook can be helpful for tracking questions and conversations with staff. This can be particularly helpful when it comes to bills and recording who came in and when.