Signs That Your Doctor (or Surgeon) Hasn’t Gotten Enough Sleep

Sleep deprivation is a huge problem in the medical community. Doctors and surgeons spend nearly 1.5 times as long in the workplace as the average American. Their hard work is admirable, of course, but not when it forces them to forgo sleep.

Experts believe that drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving, and yet, we don’t bat an eye at the idea of 24-hour medical shifts — just five hours of which, according to an Annals of Thoracic Medicine study, are spent sleeping for the vast majority of physicians.

Unfortunately, it can be tough to pinpoint sleep-deprived doctors. Many seem to function at high levels. Look closely, however, and you’ll observe concerning behaviors — as outlined below:


Bedside manner is important for maintaining patient trust and comfort. It can also be a sign of sleep deprivation, particularly if an ordinarily friendly doctor suddenly seems surly. Sleep-deprived doctors may also exhibit unusual sadness or anxiety.


Asking questions is a normal part of an average doctor’s day. While it’s common to assess patient progress by repeating questions between visits, doctors shouldn’t ask the same questions multiple times or forget the answer right away. Just as concerning: an inability to remember your name or the small talk you made before launching into medical discussions.

Typical Markers of Drowsiness

Sometimes, the signs of drowsiness are obvious — no amount of caffeine can hide multiple four-hour nights of sleep. If your doctor yawns repeatedly or dozes off on the job (yes, this happens shockingly often), it’s time to speak up.

Did a sleep-deprived doctor or surgeon cause your current suffering? You may be eligible for compensation. Get in touch with our Washington, D.C. medical malpractice attorneys to learn more about your options.