SLEEP: What is the damage of not getting enough?

I stumbled upon the below Ted Talk that addresses the damage with not getting enough sleep. Similar to many, I pulled some very late nights in IB. Moving onto PE, I'm doing the same thing but with probably 2x the stress as well. It all seemed OK at first because one hopes it is the temporary pain necessary to learn and establish the foundation, but I have been increasingly getting worried about the underlying damage and feel like my brain is burnt out and not retaining anything. I have found not sleeping a "cheat code" to getting more work done and it's worked brilliantly. But there is a cost to everything (no free lunch). It scares the shit out of me to think that there's permanent damage if I keep this up for another 2 years.

This is likely a broader conversation on not being good or fast enough (although the workload is still massive). Work is getting done and it's right, but I'm starting to get comfortable that this shit just isn't worth it. Curious to others thoughts on if this is just scare tactics / weak stuff as I have been debating where value comes in life and the balance after a few years in IB / PE (health, time, money, relationships)

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Comments (15)

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  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Aug 20, 2021 - 1:51pm

I'll toss in my .02 as someone who thinks about sleep every day. I structure my work to do everything I possibly can to do to get 8 hours of sleep. There are times when it's not possible but once you get in the habit of getting 8h of sleep per night, you feel really good all the time and you are generally pretty happy, able to cope well with change and the generally extremely unpleasant working conditions of PE, and able to do more than just "get the numbers right". I didn't watch your Ted Talk but have read a good amount of the literature on sleep and while there's still a lot of question marks, it's increasingly clear that there are myriad health consequences from a lack of sleep. If you were to offer me 7h sleep + 45 minutes exercise or 8h of sleep, I would take the latter all day every day (though ideally would also have exercise + 8h sleep).

Tl;dr, agree with you

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Aug 22, 2021 - 2:38am

Honestly, I'm a mid-bucket performer. I always raise my hand for work and work extremely hard, and I try really hard to be optimistic and agreeable. If you just do that, you can buy yourself a lot of leeway, even in a total sweatshop environment. In terms of how that enables getting more sleep tactically, I try not to schedule my meetings in the AM and I try to sleep in (I will wake up at 7 and start snoozing every 30 minutes until I have to wake up). Before COVID, the following works in the office as well: sleep in and go in late. Nobody checks. Nobody gives a shit as long as you get your work done. As an associate, your VP often only turns comments at 1am and so your night is toast. Buy time on the other end of the night.

Aug 23, 2021 - 10:37am

I'm right around the 7 hour mark (fewer on tough work days), and I definitely see the value in pumping those numbers up.

I would disagree with you on getting an extra hour of sleep over working out if you're already hitting at least 7 hours. Working out 3x per week or so is extremely accretive towards my overall physical and mental well-being. If you work a sedentary job, which we all do, it's even more important to get your heart pumping and work your body through a full-range of motion. 

In short, get sleep, eat relatively well, and workout. Your health matters just as much as your career. 

Aug 22, 2021 - 4:04pm

Not directly answering you but just to add: it's not just about hours but also quality. 8 hours of sleep after drinking a bunch of booze and coffee and having a huge meal right before bed is not the same thing at 8 hours of sleep under optimal conditions. Key takeaway is that while hours can sometimes be out of your control, you can have some say in quality.

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Aug 22, 2021 - 4:36pm

I'd write a hundred paragraphs here, but to save myself some time, I'll just say google Matt Walker. He is just starting a podcast. He also was on the Huberman Lab podcast and Lex Fridman's podcast recently, so you can listen to him there in longer form. He'll teach you all you need to know

Aug 22, 2021 - 6:24pm

Do not trust Matthew Walker. Google "Alexey Guzey Why We sleep" and read the blog post.

inaccurate/false information in his book, omits data when it does not support his point, makes up quotes, does not follow good scientifc practice in general.

Also, do not buy his book, there have been multiple reports of people sleeping less & worse after reading it, because of anxiety that theyre not getting enough sleep. Ironic, isnt it. Good job on that Mr. Sleep diplomat.

(Sleep is still important, you should aim for 8h but do not think too much about it if you occasionally only get 6h)

Aug 22, 2021 - 9:57pm

Nothing good happens with lack of sleep. Alzheimer's, poor muscle recovery, cognitive decline, less information retention, increased cortisol, slower metabolism, lower testosterone…

get as much sleep as you can, limit alcohol, no caffeine after 12pm, try to avoid blue light a couple hours before bed, don't take more than 300-500mcg of melatonin (1-3mg is way too much), try l-theanine and magnesium, exercise in the morning. 

Aug 26, 2021 - 11:25pm

All I can say is: it's your health.  

Functions of sleep include memory consolidation and cleaning out accumulated metabolic waste.  Blood cleans out the rest of your body in real time but not your brain.  During sleep your brain metabolism slows down, produces less waste, and the neurons contract to allow interstitial fluid to flow through to wash out waste and replenish nutrients.  Sleep is essentially recharging your brain battery, and the mechanics of this were only understood in 2013.  When I read about it, I left finance for consulting…to me it's not worth the literal brain damage from prolonged sleep deprivation.

Also, you actually need to sleep twice a day.  The natural sleep pattern is called segmented sleep: a few hours of deep sleep and then wakefulness for an hour or two, followed by lighter sleep.  Millions of people think they have insomnia when in fact they're just experiencing REAL sleep, it boggles the mind.   This Ted talk is a great introduction to the subject, and it also changed my life:  


Again….it's your health

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  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
Aug 27, 2021 - 3:12am

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