Steven Y. Park, MD, discusses the problem of constant interruptions during visits with patients, and how the issue is similar to sleep disruption.

As I was looking at a patient’s hypnogram, I realized that it also looks like our daily work schedules. With constant interruptions, it can be difficult to get any productive work done. It’s been said that only 20% of our time at work is truly productive. With the barrage of emails, colleagues and staff dropping by, phone calls and pages, It’s a wonder that we can get anything done at all. If you plotted all the interruptions through an 8 hour workday, I bet it’ll look very similar to what you see on a hypnogram with interrupted sleep. The first figure is a relatively “normal” night’s sleep, except that it took a while to fall asleep. Notice that the person reached all the sleep stages and for the most part, had extended periods of all sleep stages. In the second figure, notice how the person keeps waking up repeatedly.