Finance Industry's 'Macho Attitude' About Sleep Has Serious Consequences

In a perfect world, we'd all sleep like Roger Federer.

If "I'll sleep when I'm dead" is a common refrain in your office, there's a decent chance you'll be dead much sooner than everyone else.

In a conversation Thursday with The Huffington Post in Davos, Dr. Murali Doraiswamy, a professor at the Duke University Medical Center and the chair of the Global Agenda Council On Brain Research, said attitudes toward the importance of sleep are shifting, but some fields -- like high finance -- remain largely unswayed.

"I expect the financial community will be the last, because they have this macho attitude that ‘I’ll sleep when I die,’" he said. "And they’ll probably die 20 years younger than everybody else, and that’s what they’re not realizing."

And it's not just that -- missing sleep comes with big downsides. While you may only be aware of feeling mentally sluggish, sleep deprivation can negatively affect your whole body, including your liver and your heart.

Those who get more sleep also function at a higher level. Elite athletes, for instance, perform better when they spend more time sleeping.

"One of the key lessons, when you talk to coaches of top athletes, is it’s not just the training, it’s the recovery period that’s critical," Doraiswamy said. "If you don’t give time for recovery, the body doesn’t heal, all of the training rituals don’t get set, and your performance drops by 20 to 30 percent."

According to Doraiswamy, tennis legend Roger Federer aims to sleep for between 10 and 12 hours a night.

"Stanford University actually did an experiment where they took basketball players who were sleeping for about 6 hours on an average night, and forced them to sleep for an extra two to three hours," he added. "They found that every aspect of their basketball game improved dramatically."

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