Here’s How Your Choice Of Career Is Affecting Your Sleep

New data from the socio-economic panel of the German Institute for Economic Research has found that what we do for work affects how much, or rather how little, sleep we get


by Jazmin Kopotsha |
Published on

I have a huge issue with sleep. Sleeping is hard. It doesn’t come naturally to me and most nights I’ll find myself pissed off and very much wide awake sometime between 2 am and 4 am. I’d love to work out why, and totally understand that there are innumerable reasons why any one of us can have issues with getting the ‘right’ amount of shut-eye, but one thing I’d never really attributed it to was my job.

It goes without saying that leaving university came as a huge shock to the system in every sense. It would make sense that my sleeping patterns took a big hit too because, in theory, when we enter the big bad world of work we kiss goodbye those all-nighters trying desperately to meet a deadline and drunkenly stumbling home in the early hours even though you know that you have somewhere to be at 9 am.

Well, new data from the socio-economic panel of the German Institute for Economic Research has some explanations. Their researchers have found that people with jobs spend an average of six hours, 49 minutes and 48 seconds asleep. However, the study also concluded that there’s a link between the specific choices of career impact just how much (or rather, how little) sleep we’re getting.

The bad news is that people who work unsocial hours or have to get up particularly early never seem to actually make up for lost sleep. The study, initially, published in the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, looked at roughly 100 different jobs and found that those who do shift work got the least amount of sleep.

Apparently, security guards get the rawest deal with 6 hours and 17 minutes of sleep, closely followed by postal delivery workers and bakers who racking up just 6 hours and 21 one minutes and 6 hours and 24 minutes of kip a night respectively. University lecturers and researchers were at the top end of the sleep tally with 7 hours and 13 minutes, shoe shop assistants (yes, specifically shoe shops) managed 7 hours and 14 minutes and software developers, journalists and actors leaving the house with 7 hours and 10, 9 and 8 minutes under their belts.

These times are of course all averaged out. And if any of the people studied are anything like me and average at around four and a half hours of sleep a day, I imagine it would’ve offset that other annoying anomaly who somehow fits in a ridiculous (jealousy seeping through, I know) 12 hours of rest. But, what’s really interesting is the finding that just because you get up really early doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to go to bed any earlier and so essentially end up miss out on the sleep we always assume we need to catch up on.

The bad news is that despite that defiant feeling of having earned an extra long lie in after having woken up at an ungodly hour the day before, lots of research suggests that, actually, it's not going to do you any good. Research by the Harvard Medical Schoolin 2010 found that there isn’t any real way to recover ‘lost’ sleep. In fact, a recent study in the Journal of Interior design claimed that attempting to make up for a bad night’s sleep with a super long lie in the next day is actually worse and can have negative effects on things like attention span and creativity in young adults.

So, what we can gather from all of this is that your work pattern probably does have an effect on how much sleep you get each night, but if it's too little then trying to make up for it with a hard earned bed day isn't going to do all that much. Great.

The thing is our society already has a huge issue with sleep. This is bigger than my nightly 3.32 am 'why am I awake' temper tantrum. There's a weird competitive thing around how much sleep we get and how uneventful our lives must seem if we respond with anything other than 'I am like so freakin' tired' whenever we're asked how we are. And, okay, that's not going to go away overnight. But I reckon if we stop stressing about how much sleep we think we should be getting and, even better, stop comparing it to other people who probably have to operate on completely different schedules to ourselves, we'll probably rest a whole lot easier. Well, apart from bakers. Apparently, your early mornings are probably really screwing you over but I'm so, SO grateful for the cake.

Like this? You might also be interested in…

Unpicking The Millennial Issue With Sleep

Science Says ‘Beauty’ Sleep Is Real And Ugh, It’s Exhausting

Can We Please Stop Sleep Shaming Everyone?

Follow Jazmin on Instagram @JazKopotsha

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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