On Sleep Deprivation

As I write this post, my head aches, my eyes are blurry, and my hands are a bit shaky. I’m not sick or anything. It’s just that I’ve only had four hours of sleep last night and the night before that, and I’ve had to resort to coffee to keep me awake. It’s kind of ironic that just a few days ago, I came across a video of Arianna Huffington talking about the importance of getting enough sleep at night.

It’s not uncommon for freelance writers with a long to-do list to forego sleep just so they could keep up with their deadlines. In fact, I’ve known a few people in the past who bragged about being too busy to get a good night’s sleep, as if being sleep deprived because of work is a sign of success and is something to be proud of.

sleep deprivation

I tell you it’s not. I know it’s been done to death, but it’s really important that you get at least seven hours of sleep at night, whether you’re in the freelance writing field or not. Here are four reasons why.

  1. Sleep deprivation makes you forgetful. One of the worst sins you can commit as a freelance writer is to forget deadlines. That will happen often enough if you make a habit of skipping on your snooze time. Eventually it’s not only your deadlines that you will forget. You’ll probably also miss a few details, maybe a few special instructions from your client regarding the project you’re working on. The quality of your work will suffer too, in the end.
  2. Sleep deprivation makes you irritable. There was a time when I snapped at a client I was talking to on Skype because I was too tired to listen to him ramble on and on about certain details of a project. Thank goodness I’ve been working for the guy for years and we’ve come to know each other’s quirks. If he were a new client that I was trying to build a long-term relationship with, I would have lost him then and there. Oh, of course I could just shrug my shoulders and say, “I can always get a new client.” But any experienced service provider knows that it’s not really that easy to get a new client and so it’s important to build long-term relationships with existing clients so they’d always return to you. Short tempers resulting from sleep deprivation won’t help with that.
  3. Your productivity takes a hit when you’re deprived of sleep. You think you get a lot done when you sacrifice sleep for work. The opposite is actually true. When your mind is foggy with lack of sleep, you end up doing nothing but stare blankly at your monitor or play a Facebook game while waiting for the words to flow from your mind to your fingers to your keyboard. The hours pass and nothing gets done.
  4. Your health suffers when you don’t get enough sleep at night. Depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, bad skin, unwanted weight gain – these are just a few hits to your health that you can get when you habitually go without sleep. You can read more about the effects of sleep deprivation here.

Here’s the Arianna Huffington video I mentioned earlier.

No matter how much work you’ve got, make it a point to get as much sleep as you need. You’ll actually get more work done if you’re not deprived of sleep and your body will thank you for it.

It’s 3AM where I am now. Time for me to follow my own advice and get some sleep.


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Anna Sibal-Gonzaga is a freelance writer based in the Philippines. She likes reading books and watching movies and TV shows in the sci-fi, fantasy and historical genres. She is also a casual gamer and an all-around nerd.

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