Breaking News: Lawyers are Sleep-Deprived?

We recently came across an article on Yahoo! Finance entitled “America’s 10 Most Sleep-Deprived Professions.”  Intrigued, we thought we would investigate to see if our noble profession made the list.  Sure enough.  Number 2.  The fact that attorneys made the list did not come as a surprise.  The morning crowd at the coffee maker is evidence enough that our profession is immune from blissful slumber.  But what does this study say about our profession?

Let’s take a look:

As you can see, there is not a great deal of variance among the professions on the list.  To say that lawyers are more sleep-deprived than police officers because they find one less minute of sleep seems ridiculous.  These sleep figures are based on the self-reported sleep times of 27,157 adults.  In reality, this study may reveal that we think we have less sleep than others – not that we actually get less sleep.

Now take a look at this:

In comparing the “sleep-deprived” with the “well-rested” occupations, it is difficult to decipher many defining characteristics.  On either side of the spectrum, you will find a dichotomy of professions in terms of compensation, hours of work, education-level, and job location.  Perhaps the sleep differential can be attributed to personality types or other behavioral attributes.  That type of analysis, however, would require an advanced psychological degree and is well beyond our expertise (although we do have a copy of the DSM-IV around here somewhere at Abnormal Use headquarters).

So what does all this mean?  Probably very little.  We doubt the 20-minute sleep differential between lawyers and forest loggers is actually statistically significant.  In any event, this study acts as a stark reminder to us all.  We enter this profession knowing that it requires a lot of hours and hard work to be good at it.  We are willing to do it because we love our jobs and we want to do everything we can to best serve our clients.  (Or, in the very least, we have to pay back all these student loans, right?) At the same time, we also have to balance being the best spouses and parents  we can be along with other outside commitments.  There are only so many hours in a day, and sometimes, sleep is the easiest to cut.

The moral of this story is twofold.  First, continue to work hard.  Not only do our clients expect and deserve it, we owe it to ourselves.  After all, nothing is worth doing unless you go all in.  Second, it is imperative that we find a work/life balance.  Life will be much happier when you can enjoy all aspects of it.  Make time for work.  Make time for family.  Make time for a little sleep. And now, I’m off to take a quick nap.


  1. Stuart Mauney says:

    I wonder if there is a correlation between this sleep deprivation and the Johns Hopkins study of the early 90′s that showed lawyers are 3 times as likely as any other profession to suffer from depression?