Sleep your Way to the Top. 13

There is a person in every building and sometimes on every floor, who are always at work before you and always there after you. They are the best: they miss lunch to get more work done. They tell you stories of how they stayed up all night to fix a problem, they tell you how they stopped a certain course of studies because their work needed them, they tell you they left the office at 7pm or 6pm or 8pm, on Mondays they recall that they forgot something on the office on Sunday.


On first sight people like this seem inspirational and promotion-bound. Is this the entire truth? Visiting a clinic for people suffering from burnout and exhaustion could be a turn off to such ideas.

The truth is that no-one’s boss ever said “NO” to more work. All companies either openly or by blind eye support people who work more than their official hours. More than legal hours. More than what the GP says.

Some companies (make that many) even have a policy of “we don’t pay overtime” (regardless of basic conditions of employment). Is this really good?


Longer work means duration and hard work implies intensity. There is no link since intensity is can be high in short durations but impossible over long ones. (meaning working long does not mean working hard)

There is another concept, the 20/80 rule. 80% of results originate in 20% effort expanded. Productivity is non-linear (meaning more doesn’t = more) !


I am quite sure, and research supports me on this that the long term result of overwork is: job dissatisfaction, poor work performance, mistakes, burnout, fatigue, marriage problems (which leads back to more work problems), stress disorders, chronic illness and early retirement to name a few.

Office superheros may be more human than anyone in HR thinks they are. Missing meals causes blood sugar fluctuations which over time, through insulin release leads to diabetes. Further the lack of sleep causes excess cortisol to be released which causes stress and adds risk to dementia later in age. Psychology research points to the personality of people who have a high need for acknowledgement: sometimes the result of conditional love while growing up among a long list of causes. 


According to research done in Henry Ford’s day, a man needs to only work 5 days. The 6th he needs to be entertained and work on himself, and the 7th he needs to meditate and be spiritual.

All in all producing growth in his life (which logically also makes him better at work), and where there is no growth there is no progress.

Today working hours are being stretched to maximum possible, even though there is no real correlation between longer hours worked and higher productivity. In fact the opposite is true.


If you really want to be the best, think long term.  If you really want get ahead in your career, Sleep: Rest your way to top health. Take your lunch break, eat! If you are a manager, give people time off! If you are in HR make sure people are not working themselves to death! It is in everyone’s interest: Leave work at work and separate work from your personal life by not thinking about it when you get home. (Easier said than done, yes: but the more you do it the easier it gets somehow)

Share on Social Media

Leave a comment

13 thoughts on “Sleep your Way to the Top.

  • Irene Stavast

    I’m not sure that is going to work for very long!  I think it’s possible but I doubt you would stay at the “TOP”  very long since there would always be another younger person willing to do the same!

    Taking a break is important!  (Enlighten, Energize, Elevate, Entertain Yourself)

    Not only is it LAW – (except for freelances and small business owners. Haha)

    The Ten Top Reasons for Not Taking a Lunch Break:

    1. My own lack of discipline, I just cannot be bothered to go out.
    2. No one else takes a break in my office.  Others frown upon taking a break.
    3. I am afraid that others will think I am not committed enough.
    4. There isn’t anything I really want to do.
    5. I have too much work.
    6. I forgot my lunch anyway or I do not want to spend any more money on lunches.
    7. I want to leave on time and need to get this (whatever it may be) done today.
    8. I’m just going to use the time to check my e-mails.
    9. If I take a lunch break, I’ll have 10 voice mails and 20 e-mails by the time I get back.
    10. It is too cold, wet, hot, sunny, rainy, snowy, windy…

    Not enough sleep will cause you: 

    1. You’ll make mistakes.
    2. Your positive outlook, your attitude, and your customer service takes a hit.
    3. Decision-making becomes more difficult, and you’re not going to make the best, smartest choices for your business success.

    Save time e.g.:

    1. Have a specific time for Check Messages
    2. Have little non work contribution Communications
    3. Have specific time for phoning, etc.

    Just do some research on may more healthier time savers and still getting the work done!

  • Kevin Marlow

    To put everything in perspective with regard to balancing work, quality of life and productivity I would recommend the following read: ‘In praise of slowness” by Carl Honore

  • Celeste Maxime Lackay

    Hi All

    I agree with everyone, but only to a degree. I work in a relatively small but very busy office and there are simply not enough of us to do what needs to be done at the quality level that we pride ourselves in. Taking lunch has never been high on my priority list, irrespective of which industry / company I was employed in, and that may have lead to me suffering from high BP now.

    The fact of the argument is that sometimes we are paid to do a particular job, but because we prefer other aspects that the working environment offers. Because of this we would gladly take on the additional responsibilities at no material compensation, but because that is our way of “rewarding” ourselves.

    My family don’t know me any other way than driven, focused and ambitious, which is not necessarily a bad example to be setting my kids.

    Balance is key, but so is knowing yourself and what you your limitations are. If not tested, how could we tell when “enough is enough”.

    What is unfair is when a manager / supervisor exploits that person or if the others are not like him/her, compare them to “that person”.

    I am sure that lack of balance; delegation skills; time-management; etc. is not always to blame.


    if you cant get things done at specific right time,you will always strrugle with managing your work timeously.thats when you will skip lunches,off days just to get your job done.time is very important,hence there’s always time for everything.

  • Pieter Staal

    Ford was correct.  Des, so are you and the other comments.  Remember (for the oldies) when shops closed at one o’clock on Saturdays?  People still made money and still led balanced (to a degree) lives.  Look at malls – they fluxuate busy at certain hours and empty at others – if you condense it like in the old days – same similar results.  We put the stress upon ourselves and we cause the burn outs etc.  Balance is the key.

  • Greg Walpole

    I like all the comments so far but I think we may be deluding ourselves. Compare job dedication and hours worked by the workforce / people in the GROWTH economies of the new world order and Job Dedication in the slow growing challenged economy s and there is a story to be told. We must be effective and have life harmony 

    But to be competitive we must also put in the hours. 

  • Tass Schwab

    Balance is the key to everything… work time is exactly meant for that and home time for rest. Taking work home usually means that there is overload during work hours on an individual and not enough staff members to evenly distribute tasks. Balance…

  • Pelisa Plaatjie

    Wow sometimes  when you are busy,you do not think about lunch break but you want to finish your work.I didn’t know it can lead to such things at a later stage…… The only thing that i knew was separating personal life from work. Thank you

  • Des Squire

    Hi Miro

    Isn’t this the old situation of – “I’M SO BUSY”. or “I CANN’T TAKE LEAVE, I HAVE TOO MUCH TO DO ” and so on. I have decided that the people who think this way are the people who are so disorganised they cannot fit their work into a day. I learned many years ago that “If you must take work home then you need to check your efficiency and time management” – ther’s a problem somewhere and it has nothing to do with work overload.

    Henry ford could not have been more correct. Failures are divided into two classes – Those who thought and never did and those who did but never thought.