What happens if you fall asleep on the job?

I can generally function well on little sleep, but sometimes I doze off at certain times (early afternoon, early evening) even when I'm well rested. I don't totally pass out or drop my head on the desk, I just fall into a very light sleep for ten minutes or so while I'm sitting at my desk and trying to work.

If I worked as an analyst and someone noticed me dozing off like this, would it be a no-go? Is this considered something that just happens, or is it totally unacceptable?

Comments (38)

Feb 8, 2016 - 8:16am

I used to keep a folder of people from my team asleep at their desks. Got pretty much everyone by the end of my time there and I used to show our old team head as he found it hilarious (but useful, as he knew people were clearly being worked)

Highlight though was a summer intern asleep in our monday morning meetings. That was not useful.

Feb 8, 2016 - 9:20am

If you're otherwise productive and doing your job, fine. Better that you powernap in the toilets or in the office prayer room, though.

If you're otherwise a low performer and/or a deadweight on the team, falling asleep at your desk will be used against you to justify firing you.

Don't fall asleep in meetings, regardless. Take notes to stay awake. Even if the notes end up being gibberish because you're dozing off with your eyes open.

Those who can, do. Those who can't, post threads about how to do it on WSO.
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Best Response
Feb 8, 2016 - 11:04am

My group had a long-running email chain with sneaky pics of analysts in la-la-land. It was great to see the better part of a decade's crappy quality pics from what must've been somebody's Motorola Razr, looking up the names on the email and seeing people who left for Warburg, KKR, Bain, Apollo, etc. and went on to HBS.

Some were stellar. You had the classic headset on and dialed into a conference call pass-out while leaning back into the chair ... the classroom double-arm fold on the desk with a head tuck ... and some inventive ones where somebody literally had a blanket or something wrapped around them and hunkered down under a desk.

Circle of life.

I am permanently behind on PMs, it's not personal.

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Feb 8, 2016 - 5:21pm

Happened to me too during my first internship. Had to wake up at 5AM, bike to the train station, take a 60 minute train, then bike another few miles to the office. Was absolutely dead in our morning meetings. One day my boss came out with a cup filled with three espresso shots and told me to sack up or else. Suffice to say, never fell asleep again.

Feb 9, 2016 - 2:50pm


Yeah, some deal team had been pulling terrible hours and some senior banker sent them home for the day... but like copied everyone else in the office on the email (why?). It was kind of awkward because there were a couple other deal teams that had been working just as much but didn't get any rest for some reason.

That's for the analyst's benefit. It's more like a don't fck with this kid he's tired thing.

Feb 8, 2016 - 11:34pm

Well jacking off in the office bathroom always helps me snap right out of it. Just saying.

If you fall down, make sure you get back up with a vengeance!
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Feb 9, 2016 - 11:32am

I had an intern 2 summers ago who was a serial sleeper on the job. The first time I saw was when she fell asleep in a low-level client meeting, just dozed off while we were talking through some materials. I had no idea what to do because the occurrence was just so surreal to me, and the client definitely noticed.

Anyways, I said her name loud enough to wake her up and asked her to go back to the reception desk to "make a quick edit" to some meeting materials. She left. Meeting ended. Called my manager. Had her sent home. She never visited another client site for the rest of her internship.

We were pretty sure it was something clinical though because she seemed to make a habit of falling asleep. She was spotted snoozing by several others during that summer. Now she works in sales and makes more money than me.

Nothing short of everything will really do.
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Feb 9, 2016 - 12:00pm


Now she works in sales and makes more money than me.

I'd bet she gets more sleep than you, too.


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Feb 9, 2016 - 12:06pm

We used to take pictures of people sleeping at night at their desk (kind of ridiculous as I just told them to go home). Some people go take naps in the bathroom (we have nice bathrooms).

When i was an analyst many years ago - i got reamed by an MD for falling asleep on a conference call with the handset in my hand ... and one of my analysts got reamed for falling asleep in a meeting with a client because he had worked an all nighter

it happens and that analyst is now a senior associate so it's fine

Feb 9, 2016 - 12:29pm

I have had couches in my office for the past few years/offices and I've told people who work for me if they're tired AND I'm not in the office (very important and) to tell my assistant they're going to crash for 20-60 mins to recharge. Tired people don't work efficiently and make mistakes. I'd rather have them crash and get real sleep rather than nodding off at their desk all day, getting nothing done and making mistakes. If someone legitimately needs more sleep than that because they've been working all nighters (and not because they were out drinking the night before) I tell them to go home if it's practical. Take the morning/afternoon off. I know it's not the IB ethos but I like to think everyone's a professional adult and we don't work in a 40 hr/week world and it's normal to be exhausted if you worked until 3 am a few times in a row.

We acquired a company early in my career where the COO was an ex-Marine and just stereotype a hard charging old school Marine like Jack Nicholson out of A Few Good Men. I spent a lot of time at his office during the deal and one of the first things he showed me after the bathroom and kitchen was the location of the cot closets. I would never have expected it out of him but he said he absolutely encouraged people to take naps and compared it to being able to get sleep in a foxhole-take it when you can get it. Whenever I've had the authority to do so, we've always had cots in a closet.

Feb 9, 2016 - 12:39pm

My office (and all our offices) have glass walls so no way to hide. At GS, the walls used to be solid so you can close the door.

You shouldn't go sleep in someone's office during the day because other people walk by and get the wrong idea - politics 101 (just saying).

Our gym has a sauna and a steam room - one of our analysts used to go pass out in the gym

Feb 9, 2016 - 12:51pm

I was involved in the design and build of our last office from a shell and the only thing I insisted on was not having my office be all glass walls. Other people could have negotiated an 8' tall dildo statue at the front desk and I would have given in for non-glass walls (ended up with some glass at the top and smoked glass in other areas but no one can see me in my office). I personally hit my couch from time to time and I do my best thinking with no pants on which would have been really embarrassing had my walls been glass :)

Feb 9, 2016 - 12:48pm

For those of you who need some sleep and can't go home or nap in the office, I would recommend finding a good hotel (but not to get a room). When I was an intern, there was a hotel near the office where we found a couch on the second floor (banquet hall level) that was off in a weird hallway leading to a conference hall that never got used. When I was an analyst (different bank), someone showed me a similar group of leather armchairs hidden under an escalator at another hotel nearby. It was great for both naps and recruiting calls.

Somewhat related, if you ever can't find a public bathroom in a big city... use the bathroom in a hotel lobby.

Feb 9, 2016 - 4:53pm

Also of note, if you're falling asleep in the afternoons, double check your sugar intake (soda, flavored coffee, etc.). A lot of people turn to sugary drinks to stay awake when they feel the crash coming, but it winds up having a negative effect instead - a short jolt of energy followed by an even harder crash. E.g. going to SBUX to get a large coffee with a bunch of sugar (either sugar you put in or one of the several flavored varieties of coffee), only to crash right after finishing it. Stick to black coffee, water, etc., and avoid all the sugars.

Feb 13, 2016 - 10:13am

It depends on the situation, if you're good at your job at your desk closing your eyes for a few seconds is ok, but not minutes. Never ok at meetings. A lot of analysts nap on the toilet in the bathroom I know this because sometimes you can hear them snore. After hours is probably ok at night. Definitely ok if you have your own office or cubicle but less ok if you're in an open office environment sitting cafeteria style.

At my last job I had an office with a couch, i used to let people crash on it at night when I wasn't there as long as they locked the door and blocked the windows. I even kept a change of clothes there in case I worked over night.

In recent times the longest I've closed my eyes is probably 10 seconds at my desk in an open office environment. Someone who reports to me mentioned I should go home and get some rest in a condescending sort of way, so I gave him the shitty tedious task I was working on to spare them having to do it. Needless to say he never mentioned it again.

Feb 15, 2016 - 2:30pm

I have a guy on a team next to me that rolls in the office around 10AM each day and nods off pretty frequently. His role is not very critical so it is overlooked. His manager jokes about it even.

Dude is pretty funny when hes awake so that helps his case with the upper guys

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