Sleep Deprived and Proud of It

Law firms and sleep deprivation seem to go together. So when The Atlantic needed a real world example to lead off their piece on the topic, guess which profession was front and centre?

And the described daily routine is brutal:

“Missy rises at 5:30 a.m. to run on the Capital Crescent Trail or head downtown to work out with a personal trainer. She’s back home by 7 to make sure the kids are awake and getting ready for school.

… “Arrives at her spacious office by 8:30 or so”

… “gets home between 7:30 and 8”

Then: dinner, which the couple eats standing up, homework help, and climbing into bed at “10 or 10:30”—to finish a brief. Lights out at midnight.

This isn’t temporary insomnia we’re talking about here. This is a routine. We can draw into this conversation the topics of “facetime at the office”, or the connection to the billable hour; but for whatever reason, the culture in many firms continues to glamorize exhaustion.

The Atlantic article goes on to highlight the health issues,

“We are the supremely arrogant species; we feel we can abandon four billion years of evolution and ignore the fact that we have evolved under a light-dark cycle,” Oxford University Professor Russell Foster said. “And long-term, acting against the clock can lead to serious health problems.”

These problems include well-documented correlations with heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and accidents. A March study published in the Journal of Neuroscience found that long-term sleep loss was associated with permanent brain damage in rats.”

Of course, without health issues, where would the “tough-for the sake of productivity” risk factors come from?

The discussion of Thomas Edison’s role in this culture and its origins was also interesting. Though I can’t help but think R.E.M. and Bill Clinton are just as much to blame.


  1. Shaunna Mireau

    I recently picked up a FitBit. This nifty little wearable tech is intended to help me monitor and change to healthier behaviours and that includes Sleep patterns. The app for the dratted device tells me that I average close to 6.5 hours of sleep during the week and about 7.5 on the weekends which means that according to the Boston Globe article linkes above, I don’t get to take a nap :-(