Rethinking Sleep: A Necessity for Legal Professionals

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March 15 is World Sleep Day!


How often have we heard or even said to ourselves, "I'll sleep when I'm dead"? 

It's a common refrain in the legal profession, where long hours and late nights are often worn as badges of honor. But at what cost? 

Tomorrow (March 15) is World Sleep Day, so I invited my dear friend and EsquireWell sleep expert, Dr. Jagdeep Bijwadia, to write this week’s note with me. Together, we want to share the critical importance of sleep for our mental and physical health and how it can significantly impact our legal careers.

The Cost of Sleep Deprivation

A 2012 CDC study revealed that lawyers are the second most sleep-deprived professionals in the U.S., averaging just seven hours of sleep each night. This is concerning, given the demanding nature of our work and the high stakes involved. The culture of sleep deprivation in the legal field is not just a badge of honor; it's a risky habit that can have serious consequences for our health, well-being, and career success.

Why We Struggle with Sleep

The legal profession is inherently demanding, with constant deadlines, cases, and responsibilities. This can make it difficult to wind down and get the rest we need. Inconsistent sleep schedules, working late into the night, and the blue light from our devices can all disrupt our sleep patterns. Additionally, consuming excessive caffeine and working on high-stress tasks can make it harder to relax and fall asleep.

The Key to Higher Performance: Better Sleep

Sleep is essential for our overall well-being and productivity. It boosts focus, concentration, alertness, and problem-solving skills. It also reduces memory loss, irritability, and frustration, all of which are crucial for effective communication and interpersonal skills in the workplace.


Tips for Better Sleep

Set a Regular Sleep Schedule: Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day to regulate your body's internal clock.

Create a Sleep-Inducing Environment: Set yourself up for sleep success by ensuring that your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool. Consider blackout curtains and white noise to block out disturbances.

Address Anxieties: Use stress management techniques like yoga, meditation, or journaling to calm your mind before bed.

Avoid Stimulants: Limit foods and chemicals that affect your sleep caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol intake, especially close to bedtime.

Get Active: Regular exercise can improve your sleep quality, but avoid vigorous activity close to bedtime.


Be a Role Model

As legal professionals, we have the power to influence the culture around sleep in our workplaces. By prioritizing our own sleep and sharing the importance of getting enough high-quality sleep (and why it matters so much), we can set a positive example for our colleagues and those we support.

A Well-Rested You Is a Better You

It's time to shift the narrative from "I'll sleep when I'm dead" to recognizing sleep as an essential component of our success and well-being. By prioritizing sleep, we not only enhance our own performance but also contribute to a healthier, more sustainable legal profession.

So tonight, let's make a conscious effort to close our laptops earlier, put away our phones, and give our bodies and minds the rest they deserve. A well-rested you is a better you in every aspect of your life!

Dr. Bijwadia and I wish you a wonderful night’s sleep!

(If your organization is interested in learning more about sleep from Dr. Bijwadia and me, email me, and I can tell you more about our program, EsquireSleep.)