This was the cover and catchline of a freesheet I grabbed in the subway a few weeks ago. The article in question was quite mordant, mainly depicting four caricatured characters with various sleep issues – from the former party-animal now approaching her 40s to the ad executive who’s desperately jealous of her insomniac coworkers.
But more interestingly, this topic clicked for me as it only confirmed a vague impression that had came up to my mind more than once before :
Why more and more people are ashamed to sleep well. – as the heading reads.
In other words, sleep has become the new social shame, as it now seems to stand for a public demonstration of laziness. After all, the longer you’re able to stay awake, the more productive you are, right ? That’s nothing but what I hear regularly around me – schoolmates all spending long night hours finishing a set of screen designs or developing a new awesome feature. It’s a common thing in my environment for people to boast they went to bed at 2am – ”You jerk, I stayed up until 3:30am for two nights in a row and I feel great !” would be a typical reply.
Of course, there are these rush nights when we have to finish off a particular project or hand in a report on the next day, but this won’t truly happen more than once a month. The rest of time, those people are proud to be deliberately up all night on their work.
This would be totally okay if it remained limited to an individual sphere, not overflowing on other people’s life. But it does. What I mean is that when your teammates are working late while you went up to bed “early” (i.e. 11:30pm in my case), they’re able to send you e-mails at 1pm and then reproach you with not answering them until the next morning. You were sleeping while they were still working ?? The blame’s on you for not being productive / committed / motivated / hard-working enough - you name it.
Wait a minute, I’m not ashamed to say I go to sleep at 23pm and to ensure myself 8h-nights all week long, except on special occasions as mentioned earlier. Indeed that doesn’t mean my work is less good, or that I don’t meet deadlines. On the contrary, when following my personal sleep rhythm, I choose to protect my abilities by taking enough rest, allowing me to be efficient for the upcoming day. I simply don’t see why I would have to keep up with someone else’s way of organizing themselves. Believe me, that e-mail can definitely wait until 7am !
And if you still need a real scientific reason for paying attention to your daily sleep amount (really ?), then I can only have you watch Jeff Iliff’s great TED conference on One more reason to get a good night’s sleep – disclosure : your brain needs it to literally clean itself up from waste produced by neurons !
Thus, good night ;)