Tagged: Marcia Conner

No Sleep ‘Til…?

I honestly don’t understand how some people can function on minimal sleep. I can do it when I have to (5ish hours), but I always catch up as soon as I can.

It seems the richer you are, the less sleep you can function on (I’m looking at you, Donald Trump). I read one of Trump’s books a few years ago, and one of his ‘things’ (besides That Hair) is ability to successfully run his empire on only four or five hours of sleep a night. But apparently, it’s the done thing among execs.

sleep  cartoon

The Guardian‘s recently did a related story, listing numerous members of Club Carpe Diem (US chapter). Among them:

  • Bob Iger, Disney’s top dog, who gets up at 4:30am.
  • Brett Yormack, Chief Exec of the Brooklyn Nets, who’s already been up for an hour by the time Iger’s alarm goes off. On the weekends though, talk about lazy! Sleeping in ’til 7am, Brett, really?
  • Dan Akerson, Chairman and CEO of General Motors? Before. Dawn. And even when he is sleeping, he’s apparently plagued by stockmarket worries.

What. The. Fuck. They’re like mutants – the less sleep they get, the more productive they are! And it’s not even one of those ‘Weird-But-Please-Let-It-Be-Contained’ things you can only shake your head at in disbelief and say, “Only in America!” Like deep-fried pickles, or Justin Bieber.

Brits and European bosses aren’t getting much sleep, either. Of course, as their titles suggest, responsibility levels across the board (get it?) are consistently Pretty Fucking High.

I’m no doctor, but I’m confident lack of sleep is shocking for general health. Shakespeare‘s Macbeth spoke of “Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleave of care” – presumably he’d experienced what I do on little sleep: no energy, groggy, lack of motivation, sore eyes, emotional, hungry, With a bit of research (including this Huff Post article and this one from The Harvard Business Review), my suspicions are confirmed – it’s like the Grim Reaper’s pet project! Sleep deprivation has links to obesity, heart disease, cognitive impairment including permanent memory loss, decision-making ability and reaction time, plus increased risk of diabetes, and osteoporosis. The less sleep you get, the worse these risks. But wait, there’s more! According to News.com.au, new research found sleep deprivation can mess with your genes! Specifically, getting only six or less hours a night on a regular basis affects genes involves in immunity, stress responses, and inflammation.In response to the article, one guy said, “SLEEP IS A LIFESAVER! Stress-induced insomnia not only screws with your biochemistry, it turns you into a zombie! Weight gain and the like are all common. I have had to totally rechange the way I live in order to accommodate sleep – left my old career, spend more time outdors, no eating late in the evening and acupuncture for tension and pain…. Take care of yourself!!!” Here, here, Jason of Sydney. Further to Jason’s point on weight gain, The Daily Mail says sleep deprivation causes snacking, which causes weight gain of 2lbs a week! (For Aussies, that’s just under a kilo). AND, you can’t just get more sleep and lose the weight (though it’d help).

So how the heck are the elite few consistently effective, night after night, year after year, with so little sleep?? Particularly if Fast Company‘s Marcia Conner is right, and “sleepless habits deprive us of our natural capacity to excel.” Are they secretly sick all the time? Do they do a Don ‘Mad Men‘ Draper and take regular power naps? I don’t know, but it’s not cool to think of it as aspirational. Dr. Charles A. Czeisler, the Baldino Professor of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, says “encouraging a culture of sleepless machismo is worse than nonsensical; it is downright dangerous, and the antithesis of intelligent management.” I’ll put it down to a downside of extreme success, i.e. no other choice. They have so much to do, they can’t afford to sleep that much. But, by that token, surely they couldn’t afford to get really sick, which is what they’re constantly risking from lack of sleep?

I know what you’re thinking — oh, here we go! Another well-rested person, sans dark-eye circle, disparaging hard working folks who can’t get enough sleep precisely for that reason, AND probably doing so on your laptop from the comfort of your bed, after plenty of sleep. Well, I am well rested now (one of the perks of unwanted unemployment), but an awareness of the deadly side effects of sleep deprivation are as good for me to know as anyone else. So there.

As much as the bosses would probably love some quality shut-eye (except maybe Dan Akerson, the worrywart), I don’t see their behaviour changing anytime soon.

Interestingly, the whole point of The Guardian article isn’t to marvel at chief execs’ lack of sleep, as I’m doing, but to report research that found “people at the bottom of society have among the least amount of sleep – and the most disturbed.” The research found almost one in five men working routine jobs (cleaning, waiting, etc.) get less than 6.5 hours’ sleep a night – not factoring in travel time from the outer ‘burbs. So poor people are tired, rich people are tired – presumably those in the middle aren’t exclusively well-rested. Sounds like a serious public health problem!

With so many sleep deprived people out and about, it’s a wonder there aren’t more car accidents and deaths. Oh, wait, there are. The Harvard Business Review says from 2001-2006, “driver fatigue…accounted for more than 1.35 million automobile accidents in the United States alone, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.” Scary.

Get this: Aussie mathematicians say there’s a formula to getting a good night’s sleep. So ,what encourages restful sleep? Sex before bedtime = six more minutes of sleep. Who knew? And sleeping next to a partner = better sleep quality and an extra 21 mins sleep, BUT nix both those benefits if they’re a snorebag – you’ll lose 14 mins of sleep. (via ‘Body & Soul’ in The Advertiser)