”I only got five hours of sleep last night”
”That’s nothing I only got 4. And I have to stay up late again tonight.”
”Yea, well I haven’t slept in 30 hours.”
How many times have you heard a conversation like this either in college or at work? As humans we love to brag, it’s only natural. Who has got the bigger car? Who is the most naturally talented? But one thing I am sick of hearing people boast about is their lack of sleep.
In every staffroom around the world, you will see people having the same kind of showdown. Competing against each other like they will get some kind of award for their mindless dedication to their jobs.
In today’s world, we talk about sleep as if it is an inconvenience or an obstacle to getting our work done. We proudly walk around our offices wearing our exhaustion like a badge of honour.
If you’re sleeping less you’re doing more, sacrificing more and therefore care more about your job that those who choose to sleep a ridiculous 8 hours per night.
This idea is encouraged by our modern culture, where work no longer means 9-5 and ambition is valued above everything else.
In the last few years, we have seen countless articles about the ”Sleepless Elite”. Entrepreneurs and successful politicians who can function on merely 3 or 4 hours of sleep.
Indra Nooyi, chairman, and CEO of Pepsi reportedly sleeps for four hours each night while fashion designer Tom Ford only catches a mere 3 hours of zzzs.
But what if we stopped and asked ourselves is this kind of lifestyle is sustainable?
Ambition is great. Hard work is wonderful. But sleep is non-negotiable. If you are sacrificing your rest to improve your work then you are putting your health on the line, it is as simple as that.
For starters, being sleep deprived affects your daily performance. Not getting enough sleep means you will be drowsy, groggy and in general not performing at your top level. What is the point in staying up late to finish that PowerPoint when you won’t have the energy to present it properly?
While many of us think of sleep as our body’s chance to completely switch off this is not the case. While we are sleeping a lot of important processing, restoration and strengthening are taking place. Without adequate amounts, our mental health and safety can be negatively affected.
And that’s only in the short term.
In the long-term sleep deprivation can lower a person’s cognitive abilities, damage their immune system and increase their chances of developing chronic illness.
According to Harvard Medical School, studies show that sleeping less than five hours a night increases the risk of death from all causes by about 15%.
Bragging about your late nights in the office doesn’t seem quite as impressive when you see the effects it can have on your health now does it?
Going forward there needs to be a cultural shift in the workplace. If we aren’t looking after our health then there is no way we can succeed in our careers. Next time you want to show off your lack of sleep, just take a nap instead.