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No, this is not a joke. So we've all heard from multiple sources that the typical first-year analyst's day goes from 6AM through 3AM, leaving about 3 hours of sleep in-between. Many of you still even had chances to work out.

So I tried to emulate the exact mental and physical strain to see what it felt like (and if I could take it). Don't worry -- this is my winter break.

Background: I'm 21 YRO, around the age of most first-year analysts. I'm a pretty healthy guy.

I started 3 days ago:

Saturday 6AM - Wake up

Saturday 11PM - Not tired at all yet. Dig up next semester's "Intro to Stochastic Models" textbook and start cramming the first 3 chapters.

Saturday 3AM - Starting to feel drowsy, not to mention incredibly BORED and exhausted from doing textbook review questions non-stop for 4 hours. I grab some redbull, took a shower.

Saturday 7AM - First 24 hours awake. In order to emulate the physical strain as well, I grab my coat and walked (not drive) 20 minutes to McDonalds for breakfast then walked 20 minutes back.

Saturday 12PM - Ate lunch. That did it. The extra load of food must've knocked me out because I don't even remember falling asleep.

Saturday 3PM - Woke up (my stereo was still blasting). Got 3 hours of sleep. Back to "work."

Saturday 11PM - Had some drinks with friends. (to emulate drinking and partying on no-sleep)

Sunday 2AM - left the bar early. I was about to pass out, not from alcohol, but I was so godammn tired!!

- Went home. Set alarm for 5AM. Passed out asleep -

Sunday 5AM - Took cold shower. Took out stochastic models textbook again.

Sunday 10PM - Sat at desk all day and I've worked through 50% of the book by now. (completely new material). ENORMOUS headache. Drank 2 cans of Rockstar energy. By now it took me 10 minutes just to read a new paragraph. My eyes could barely open and I couldn't even multiply 346x17 by hand without getting it wrong! I could barely comprehend what I was reading, even after switching over to my USA Today paper.

Monday 2AM - My entire body is now FREEZING despite my thermostat set at 82F. I'm getting bad chest pains. My left hand felt numb. I set my alarm for 6AM and passed out.

Monday 6AM - Took me 40 minutes of hitting snooze to finally get up. I have a MASSIVE HEADACHE the size of texas, mild chest pains, and am about to throw up. I took a shower, ate breakfast, and came onto WSO to let you guys know that this is IMPOSSIBLE!

By the time I hit 36 hours of no sleep, either I passed out without me knowing it, or my comprehension and mental abilities shrunk to the size of an acorn. There is no way in hell a first-year analyst won't be making 100000000 errors on his excel spreadsheets at this comprehension level. Also, I'm sure I'm not the only one who gets bad chest pains doing this. I'm a really healthy/athletic guy too.

Also, wasn't there some research done a while back that continuous sleep-loss can lead to sudden death? I don't see any analysts collapsing.

So in conclusion, I DO NOT believe that the typical analyst works from 6AM to 3AM day after day, and STILL have time and energy to hit the gym and go clubbing. It's biologically INFEASIBLE unless you want an irregular heartbeat somewhere along the way.

Prove me wrong, please. ps: I just got notes for half the textbook already for NEXT SEMESTER. So some good came out of this :D

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Comments (63)

  • MoneyKingdom's picture

    First of all, thanks for sharing your rather mundane story. Second, most analysts do not work 6AM-3AM , those hours are exceptions, not the rule. Generally speaking, its about 9AM-2AM..on average. "biologically infeasible"? Its definetely feasible, strongly unrecommended, however. Yes IB sucks, and that's why no one does it for over 5 years.

  • dayaaam's picture

    no.. a typical analyst does not work those hours everday, if he or she did for two years, they would die

    there are certainly weeks/months like that, but the lighter days help you catch up on sleep and whatnot. I don't know if your test is a joke but its its pretty funny, considering it only emulates being tired and crushing red bulls. If you want it to be more realistic...I guess.. stare at a computer screen for long periods of time, constantly type on your keyboard, induce a sense of pressure or stress, have a few buddies to burn the midnight oil with.

    there are some analysts on the street in certain groups who get absolutely crushed and work absurd amounts. but for the most part, a typical analyst does not work 6AM - 3AM everyday. Even if they work till 3am often, they will get in at 9:30 to 10:00, leaving them with 5-6 hours of sleep, which is manageable.

  • yeeeeeeehawwww's picture

    "Even if they work till 3am often, they will get in at 9:30 to 10:00, leaving them with 5-6 hours of sleep, which is manageable."

    Analysts can come in at 9AM?? Wow that's a first. I guess there's a lot to clear up here because up till now, everything I've read, including the "Day in a life of a Banker" Vault Guides, has analysts waking up at 6AM and getting to work at 7.

  • yeeeeeeehawwww's picture

    If i-banking hours are more lax than I've heard, than why does everyone make a big deal about it? 9AM to 3AM isn't much different from the lawyer who works 9AM to 7PM, then continues working at his home office till 3AM or the surgeon who gets called in at 10PM to perform a 4 hour surgery...

    I have family members who are IT Consultants and, even though they get home at 7PM, they rarely talk to their family because they have to continue working late into the night...my uncle works for a top software company making $170k/yr as a developer and has a quick dinner with his family at 8PM, before working at home till 3AM.

    Anyone who makes more than 90k usually has lots of work to do, even if they come home earlier, so then what's the big fuss about i-banking hours? Shit happens in IT as well...uncle used to tell me his company would have database crashes at 4AM and they'd have to ring his blackberry.

  • TNA's picture

    Wait, so you only went 36 hours with no sleep (not really since you took naps and all kinds of stuff)? I regularly do 24 hours without sleep and I am old (27). I think it is something you acquire over time. Suck it up, don't gorge or food and sleep on your lunch break if you need to. I honestly think if you had to do a week of insane hours you would be sleeping during lunch and not going out at all. Interesting little experiment you did though.

  • GoodBread's picture

    I think you got your 7AM idea from reading S&T stuff. You can't mix and match job descriptions to create the worst typical day ever.

    Comparing IT and Ibanking is ridiculous. Not because of relative 'prestige' or anything like that, but because working from home on an IT project is very different from spreading comps at 2am in an office. Furthermore, nobody at an established IT company is forced to work 90 hour weeks. Sure, there can be a crazy week on occasion, but those hours are the norm at some IBs and PE shops.

  • stk123's picture

    IBD doesn't come in until 9 am +/- 1 hour, it is S&T and ER that comes in at 6am, 7am.

    36 hours without sleep is no problem at all. I couple of weeks ago, I woke up to work at 6am got home packed my suitcase and watched TV all night, because I had a 10 hour plane flight the next day and wanted to sleep on the flight. Got on the plane at 9 am, waited for over two hours before it took ate some breakfast, then watched a movie before I finally popped a double dose of OTC sleeping pills, which work pretty good, before going to sleep. That is about 30 hours, while a girl next to me used the same strategy, but she passed out the moment she got into her seat.

    I once went 50 hours without sleep while camping under tents: I woke up one day, started drinking in the evening and continued into the night. Got drunk, sobered up in the morning, got drunk again in the afternoon, sobered up in the evening, and then got drunk again at night before finally going to sleep sometime before noon two days later.

    It is easy to handle a few days without sleep or even a week with minimal sleep. But I could not work from 6am to 3am for an extended period of time (more than 7-10 days). I would simply quit the job if it required me to work 21 hours a day or 147 hours a week (out of 168 hours total).

  • PocketHandkerchief's picture

    Do you not study for finals?

  • iBuy's picture

    Let me tell you a story ....

    21st birthday (on the Saturday).
    - Woke up Friday 7am. Was during an internship, so arrived at work at 8.30am.
    - Worked until 6pm.
    - Got home (from client site) at 9pm.
    - Went to a house party, got there at 11pm.
    - Up all night, drinking and fooling around with this one girl
    - Went back to her place at 4am
    - Stayed up all night.
    - Went home at 10am
    - Straight into birthday celebrations with the family and close friends.
    - Finished at 6pm
    - Went out for pre-evening drinks.
    - Got to the club at 11pm
    - Left at 4am
    - Went back to another girls' place
    - Stayed up all night
    - Got home at 11am
    - Went to see my girlfriend (I was a cheating ass ... sue me, I was 21)
    - Had lunch with her and spent the afternoon early/evening
    - Got home at 7pm
    - Back on the train (back to client site) had to do some work for the Monday morning.
    - Got back to the hotel at 11pm
    - Finally slept at 1am on the Monday

    I was awake for 66 straight hours. I'm not gonna lie, towards the end, I was hearing stuff and felt like I was starting to lose my mind. I wouldn't ever do it again (I came close in Rio over Carnaval - 50 straight hours of partying), but I'm glad I did it.
    36 hours is nothing to brag about.

  • yeeeeeeehawwww's picture

    Let me clarify: In my post, I did ultimately mean that it would be impossible to pull off for more than 2-3 days a week, 4 weeks a month. Once or twice is fine...but more than that, which was what I and many of my friends had believed what i-bankers went through, would be really tough to do which was what boggled me.

    As for finals...I've studied till 5AM writing papers and cramming for a final or midterm that was at 9AM more than a few times a semester. I've gone 24 hours no sleep several times a month in college. But the difference was that right after that exam, I'd run back to my dorm and sleep for the next 10 hours and wake up at like 8PM.

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  • yeeeeeeehawwww's picture

    IConsult: IT's much easier to do when the activity you're doing is actually INTERESTING. Back in freshman/sophomore year, my frat would party frequently on thurs/fri/sat nights till 5AM and around 7AM I'd be still completely ECSTATIC and not tired at all. The combination of fun, dancing, jumping around, liquor and energy drinks makes it much easier to stay up. Comparing that to 2 hours of calculus 3 and I'm dozing off in no-time.

  • Ortsman1's picture

    Ha. I love how you throw in your frat activity after everyone rains down on your clear and complete toolishness and lack of friends. The ferocity that you wrote that post with, and the fact that you actually stayed awake for 3 days during a break simply because you believed 1st year analysts are forced to, is kinda pathetic man.

  • yeeeeeeehawwww's picture

    Ortsman1: how exactly does this in any way show I have a "lack of friends"? I'm not interested in getting into useless fights on a messageboard, but I don't see how this shows lack of friends? I'm at home for winter break and went to a bar with some guys I knew back in high school in my hometown....what more would you expect me to do at home? Bring my entire fraternity 7 states away from campus to come hang out?

  • Bury_Bonds's picture

    If you are the analyst running the model for a live $5bn+ M&A transaction, you will pull at least one back-to-back pair of all-nighters, plus at least three additional all-nighters, all in the FIRST TWO WEEKS of the transaction.

    The experience is nothing like reading a math textbook because your a$$ will be on the line and you will have several more senior bankers constantly grilling you. If you become seriously fatigued and more likely to make errors, then more senior resources will be dedicated to checking your work.

  • dweezy's picture

    For the OP,

    You can't simulate and model life. Life is dynamic and even though you were studying stochastics, your thought process is very linear...dare I say, robotic.

    Reality and the pressures of situations determine your body's reaction, not some "plan". No matter how motivated you are there's no way your body can be stimulated to meet the pressures of a deadline, paying the bills, having three crying kids at home, etc...

    In addition, all that Red Bull, Rockstar, Crack Rock shit is only going to fuck you up more. The combo of sleep deprivation and all that caffeine is a perfect recipe for a heart attack. Take a multi vitamin, eat real food, step outside of the box (go for a walk, play a video game, some shit to break the mental monotony) and most importantly, respect life and don't be an everything planning robot.

    You're a kid, you're motivated, that's plenty for now. Take it easy and if you really need to prove to yourself that you can cut the long hours. Build up to it slowly like anything else, start with 24 and then work your way up. If you're in it for the right reasons, you'll have no problem doing the time when the situation calls for it.

    Good luck.

  • Ortsman1's picture

    Becasue only a sad individual with a complete lack of social skills would purposefully subject themselves to three days of sleeplessness to prove to an anonymous message board that is is very difficult to do (no shit sherlock), all while operating under the totally wrong premise that all analysts regularly do this.

  • yeeeeeeehawwww's picture

    Ortsman1: I'm in the process of making a career choice...just wanted to see what it felt like. Especially in a career where this happens all the time, I want to see if this is the way I should be going. But apparently this makes me a loner with no social skills.

    Insecure much? I don't get it. Were you picked on in high school?

  • PiperJaffrayChiang's picture

    you are my hero

    also PLEASE tell this during an interview, it will make for a great story

    =========================================
    We are excited to formally extend to you an offer to join Bank of Ameria

  • Mayor Quimby's picture

    yeeeeeeehawwww:
    So in conclusion, I DO NOT believe that the typical analyst works from 6AM to 3AM day after day, and STILL have time and energy to hit the gym and go clubbing. It's biologically INFEASIBLE unless you want an irregular heartbeat somewhere along the way.

    You really needed to stay up for 36 hours to reach that conclusion?

  • zykke's picture

    You're all being really hard on the guy.. yeah not sleeping sucks. being all macho about it is all fine and good, but it still sucks. I think it's good for him to find out how his body responds to it before rather than after he starts work

  • TheBuySideGirl's picture

    IBD comes to work around 9:30 ~ 10:00 and leaves around 12~2 a.m.
    Its really on a few occasions when they do 3-straight-all-nighters.

    This would definitely be a fun story to tell on interviews, though. Nice Job.

  • In reply to TheBuySideGirl
    Mayor Quimby's picture

    CoreDuo:
    This would definitely be a fun story to tell on interviews, though.

    No, no, no (assuming this is serious). Bringing this up in a job interview is asking to get dinged.

  • CompBanker's picture

    Over the course of my two years, I only pulled back-to-back all-nighters twice, and I worked harder than probably any analyst in my class. I typically worked 9am to 2am when I was busy, with a random all-nighter thrown in every week or so to meet a deadline. On weekends you can typically get a full night sleep (~7 hrs) unless your associate is in the office with you, which sucks.

    Your experiment lacks in a few ways. Something I think almost no one understands is how your body rapidly becomes accustomed to your lifestyle. When I was busy for an extended period of time, a 4am night wouldn't phase me. I'd still be at the top of my game. However, if you come back from xmas break and immediately have to pull an all-nighter, you'll be toast easily because your body resets. I had to pull an all-nighters the Sunday after Christmas last year and it absolutely sucked. I had a ton of sleep, but because I hadn't worked much for a couple of days, I was dying come 3am.

    Another key thing that is lacking is what your motivation is for staying up late. The key difference between staying up all night studying for finals and staying up all night working, is when studying for finals, you can call it quits whenever you want. If you get exhausted, you can give up and go to bed and just wing the test the next day. Your grades may suffer, but no one is standing over you expecting you to do it. In banking, you've got an entire team standing over you (not physically), pressuring you to make sure you get it done, and get it done flawlessly. You can't just "go-to-bed" and take the lower grade, and not having that choice makes a difference.

    CompBanker

  • CrimsonBlaze88's picture

    Compbanker,

    Thank you for a great response that brings both reality and insight back into the conversation. Knowing that your body can adapt to the reduced sleep is very reassuring for people like me who are used to getting a full night's sleep every night.

  • In reply to yeeeeeeehawwww
    iBuy's picture

    yeeeeeeehawwww:
    IConsult: IT's much easier to do when the activity you're doing is actually INTERESTING.

    I see where you're coming from, but I posit that it isn't difficult to stay up for 36 hours for something inane like debugging 2000 lines of C++ code (I was a CS major) or coding in Haskell.
    I've done both and lived to tell the tale. Not pretty, but certainly not as difficult as staying awake for 66 hours.

    eiffeltowered:
    IConsult...how much cocaine were you on while partying?

    None. I naturally don't sleep many hours (4hrs is enough, more than 5hrs is too much)
  • In reply to iBuy
    monkeyface's picture

    IConsult:
    Let me tell you a story ....

    21st birthday (on the Saturday).
    - Woke up Friday 7am. Was during an internship, so arrived at work at 8.30am.
    - Worked until 6pm.
    - Got home (from client site) at 9pm.
    - Went to a house party, got there at 11pm.
    - Up all night, drinking and fooling around with this one girl
    - Went back to her place at 4am
    - Stayed up all night.
    - Went home at 10am
    - Straight into birthday celebrations with the family and close friends.
    - Finished at 6pm
    - Went out for pre-evening drinks.
    - Got to the club at 11pm
    - Left at 4am
    - Went back to another girls' place
    - Stayed up all night
    - Got home at 11am
    - Went to see my girlfriend (I was a cheating ass ... sue me, I was 21)
    - Had lunch with her and spent the afternoon early/evening
    - Got home at 7pm
    - Back on the train (back to client site) had to do some work for the Monday morning.
    - Got back to the hotel at 11pm
    - Finally slept at 1am on the Monday

    I was awake for 66 straight hours. I'm not gonna lie, towards the end, I was hearing stuff and felt like I was starting to lose my mind. I wouldn't ever do it again (I came close in Rio over Carnaval - 50 straight hours of partying), but I'm glad I did it.
    36 hours is nothing to brag about.

    wow cool story bro

  • In reply to monkeyface
    amande96's picture

    monkeyface:
    IConsult:
    Let me tell you a story ....

    21st birthday (on the Saturday).
    - Woke up Friday 7am. Was during an internship, so arrived at work at 8.30am.
    - Worked until 6pm.
    - Got home (from client site) at 9pm.
    - Went to a house party, got there at 11pm.
    - Up all night, drinking and fooling around with this one girl
    - Went back to her place at 4am
    - Stayed up all night.
    - Went home at 10am
    - Straight into birthday celebrations with the family and close friends.
    - Finished at 6pm
    - Went out for pre-evening drinks.
    - Got to the club at 11pm
    - Left at 4am
    - Went back to another girls' place
    - Stayed up all night
    - Got home at 11am
    - Went to see my girlfriend (I was a cheating ass ... sue me, I was 21)
    - Had lunch with her and spent the afternoon early/evening
    - Got home at 7pm
    - Back on the train (back to client site) had to do some work for the Monday morning.
    - Got back to the hotel at 11pm
    - Finally slept at 1am on the Monday

    I was awake for 66 straight hours. I'm not gonna lie, towards the end, I was hearing stuff and felt like I was starting to lose my mind. I wouldn't ever do it again (I came close in Rio over Carnaval - 50 straight hours of partying), but I'm glad I did it.
    36 hours is nothing to brag about.

    wow cool story bro

    i did something similar once, towards the end i cannot hold tweezer plucking my eyebrow. it was so scary since i feel i cannot control my hand. i lost so much weight that week tho, straight drinking+no sleeping=rapid weight loss,which should be a bonus for a girl. lol.

  • moneyneversleeps2's picture

    Keep in mind that a good 50% of all adults are going to stretch the truth to make themselves look like 24/7 work-a-holic heros in a survival of the fittest type way. Especially with entry level analysts: they will gladly tell you about all the rounders they work to make it appear like Wall street is some sweatshop 90 miles west of Beijing. However, they will never mention the times they were able to take a nap, take an executive lunch, get their highlights retouched or reinvent their Facebook page in the middle of the day bc their bandwith was just that low. As mentioned above, Bankers probably average out the same amount of hours as Sales Managers, IT Developers and a host of other professions that make north of six figures. Those people just realize how low their salary truly is once they do the math and that's why they don't tell people how many hours they truly work.

  • MrDouche's picture

    Humorous post. Ignore most of the criticisms. IB is overrated. There are easier ways to make money.

    I worked an a major firm (GS/MS/JPM) and switched to subprime mortgage lending before the massive bubble. I went from stimulating conversations among very bright and ambitious co-workers to working alongside dropouts selling to people who couldn't speak English. I made significantly more money and didn't work hard. Enough to go on and earn a PhD from a top school afterwards.

    Now I'm back working in a different industry and am getting ready to start my own business. With all the intelligence on this board, the vast majority of you shouldn't have a problem earning well into the six-figures. No need to worry.

    IB is no different than accounting. You learn basic skills, but you should really develop better operational skills, unless you are the type who can make it to MD or happen to live in a more affordable city. I never was. I wasn't good enough to make it that far in that type of system only to buy a tiny apartment in a cold city.

    I have several friends in IB at the VP/Director level. They still have less than 100k of net worth. Hardly impressive. My friends that own Dry Cleaners and Beauty Supply shops in the ghetto have more money and better cash flow.

    Banking is overrated. MBA's are joke degrees and the vast majority of bankers below the MD level aren't exactly wealthy. Mr. Braverman writes some very incisive commentary and my journey is similar--though less interesting and successful--than his. Don't stress out about applying to become a whore unless you see it as a good opportunity to learn basic skills. That's all it is for most people.

    Do many of you know people in IB that have a relatively substantial net worth under the age of 30? I don't, but I would be interested to see if my friends are abnormal. Money from mom doesn't count.

    FYI: In IB you work 60-70 hours but talk about working 80-90. The hours aren't as bad as people say.

    I rich, smarts, and totally in debt.

  • Audiouz's picture

    You should read "Work smart not hard" post over at Mergers and Inquisitions. It will help you a lot and give you some ideas how to manage your day.

  • TheManWithThePlan's picture

    Real banker works ass off for 90+ hrs a week, no bullshit in the office, results only, period. Parties when not in the office. This banker is excellent at what he / she does, loves his / her job and senior bankers love them. Even some that try this hard and maybe are not as effective, they are still real bankers.

    Wanker banker is "AT" work for 90+ hrs a week, bullshits around for 30+ hours a week (including on WSO, internet, long stupid conversations about nothing, bitches about work, starbucks 5 times a day) and the 60 hrs he/she works its ineffective / slow / error ridden. Thinks he/she is "top of class" but is really bottom.

    I'm going to post this in a forum. I like the theme.

    #################################################
    I am the Man. I Have the Plan. Follow Me to the Promised Land.

  • Bigmonkeyballs's picture

    What a humurous post. Thanks for the laughs. I couldn't stop cracking up (no sarcasm).

    Don't take some of these tight wads so seriously. Take a look at the WSO poll. Seems as a lot of us are looking for some more funny content. =)

  • 1styearBanker's picture

    MrDouche: you are retarded, ur friends probably worked at jefferies/piper jaffray. DIAF. I have more networth right now than you ever will and this is as an analyst.

  • MrDouche's picture

    1styearBanker: What are you worth? And how much of it did you earn?

    I rich, smarts, and totally in debt.

  • l2010's picture
  • Javi2's picture

    Thank you OP for the laugh. I was at my desk cracking up!

  • randombetch's picture

    HAHAHA I loved this thread.

  • IamObama's picture

    Too much shit being thrown around in this thread

  • Jerrey's picture

    I managed 4 weaks non-stop working with no regular time of sleep. I always tried to decide on whether to use 1, 2 or 3 REM phases (90 minutes each) and distributed them throughout the day.

    So I crashed not before the 4th week was over. So I guess it is possible. But your ability to work creatively and inspiredly really requires a huge amount of money and I doubt you can keep on working effectively for 4 weeks. Maybe if it is the project of your life. But truly not regulalry.

    I didn't move though. No drive to work. I jsut sat at the desk and did thoughtwork. Maybe that's the difference to your experience. I suppose, to work so effective in a bank, one needs a bed under the desk, or at least some comfortable place next to it.
    And having a dog to sleep with you certainly increases your performance again, so you migh only need one REM Phase each day. Given tha you are not learning anything after the 3rd week pitching as an analyst, you might even need only one REM phase ever 3rd day occasionaly.

    But, then you don't learn how to pick up girls after hhour, so I guess you need 4 REMs every day, unless you want to be a social inapt freakazoid like that Mega Mind guy from Disney.

    ... ok it wasn't funny. Nvermind.

    "Make 'Nanas, not war! "

  • Aggravate's picture

    One thing to keep in mind is sleep needs vary drastically from one person to another. Additionally environment, like Compbanker said, is a huge factor in determine an individuals limits. Access to food is another huge driver, which in banking should not be a problem.

    I went to undergrad at a service academy and probably slept 5 hours a night 6 days a week and then caught 10 hours of rack on Sunday during the academic year. This is pretty standard and easily doable. In Ranger school I slept between 1-3 hours a day for 12 weeks, spent outside on 1 MRE a day. This was absolute hell by design. During deployments I might sleep only a couple hours a day for weeks. This however is not sustainable. The best advice I ever got from one of my battalion commanders was that anything less than 5 hours on average of sleep is unsustainable long term for most people and his officers were required to get 5 hours a night. His rationale was that anything less and your ability to make critical decisions in real time were impaired, jeopardizing readiness and endangering lives. While that scenario isn't applicable to plunking away at Excel or changing slide formatting, the vast majority of people will be useless if they keep up sustained levels of sleep deprivation.

    Additionally in iterated work environments there is ample opportunity to catch 30-60 minutes of sleep when you are waiting to get feedback before the next round of edits.

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