Pulling late nights, or an all-nighter, feels like a badge of honour you can wear at some jobs. But given the impact of sleeplessness on work, at least one researcher considers it like showing up at work loaded.
Photo by cbowns.
A fascinating article on what we understand about sleep (read: not a whole lot) in National Geographic Magazine makes the case that workers, and the culture at large, have underplayed the seriousness of sleep. It starts off with an examination of actually fatal insomnia, then covers a lot of ground, including the impact of sleep fatigue on jobs that require concentration and decision-making. One tragic example:
In February 2009 a commuter jet en route from Newark to Buffalo crashed, killing all 49 aboard and one on the ground. The copilot, and probably the pilot, had only sporadic amounts of sleep the day leading up to the crash, leading the National Transportation Safety Board to conclude that their performance "was likely impaired because of fatigue." This sort of news enrages Harvard's Charles Czeisler. He notes that going without sleep for 24 hours or getting only five hours of sleep a night for a week is the equivalent of a blood alcohol level of 0.1 percent. Yet modern business ethic celebrates such feats. "We would never say, 'This person is a great worker! He's drunk all the time!' " Czeisler wrote in a 2006 Harvard Business Review article.
After a read, it's easy to start thinking about whether you treat sleep like a second-class citizen among your needs.