Biglaw, Billable Hours, Health Care / Medicine

You Guys Aren’t Getting A Lot Of Sleep, Are You?

Not to be all on Catherine Rampell’s jock today, but the other thing I read in the Economix while I was catching up on the internet seemed far more interesting than imagining Shearman & Sterling partners bitch about how flat profits per partner left them with only $1.56 million, on average, to play around with in 2011.

On the one hand, it’s an obvious point: a study about the most “sleep-deprived” professions found lawyers to average only 7 hours of sleep a night. Only “home health aides” received less sleep.

It doesn’t come as a galloping shock to anybody that lawyers average less sleep than almost anybody else. What did surprise me was the figure. What the hell kind of lazy lawyer is getting seven entire hours of sleep every day?

Look, I’m a blogger and I don’t always average seven hours of sleep, at least not during the work week. When I was in practice, ye Gods. Let’s just say that you bill by the hour but sleep in six-minute increments. Here’s the top five most sleep-deprived professions:

You can look at the full top ten most sleep-deprived and most well-rested lists on the Economix blog.

In general, I’m surprised about how many people cluster around seven hours. Even people in the most well-rested profession — logging — average 7:20, according to the study. So from most sleep to least sleep we’re looking at a spread of less than thirty minutes? That seems to me a statement about human physiology rather than any particular profession.

In any event, to combat this industry-wide sleep deprivation, I would actually suggest that lawyers develop a biphasic sleep pattern. I’m serious. Rolling with either a six or four-and-a-half hour “sleep” with a 30 or 90 minute “nap” sometime during the day is more doable that you think. And once you get used to it, you feel rested for a greater portion of the day, even if you’re on the four-and-a-half hour version. (I don’t do this anymore, because I can sleep for 12 hours on the weekend if I want to, ’cause I have a cool job.)

Of course, the downside of the biphasic sleep schedule is that you might have trouble taking your nap or feel embarrassed to be “caught” napping and skip it for couple of days… and then have a minor psychotic episode from sleep deprivation. But as long as you keep sharp objects out of your reach, it might be worth a shot.

Unless you are one of these magical attorneys that gets the eight hours a night to push up the lawyer sleep average. I don’t know who you are or how you do it, but you must be the envy of all your colleagues.

America’s 10 Most Sleep-Deprived Jobs [Economix / New York Times]

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