Want to get ahead at work? Take a nap!

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Remember all-nighters? When I was in college, all-nighters were special occasions, and I would prepare for them like they were a lead-in to Christmas. I'd make sure that there was plenty of coffee in the kitchen, be sure to avoid high-carb snacks that would have me crashing at 4 a.m., and would work in the occasional shower to keep me fresh (and pruney).

Now that I've gotten a little older, though, it just doesn't work anymore. If I'm up at 2 a.m., I'm probably in a cranky mood, and you can bank on the fact that I'll be grim and non-communicative until at least noon. That, of course, is assuming that you'll even be able to drag me out of bed, which is pretty unlikely.

Happily, I've found that there is a great deal of research to support my refusal to rise from my slumber until I've had my requisite seven or eight hours of sleep. According to various sleep-deprivation studies, not getting enough sleep can cause a wide array of negative consequences, ranging from fatigue and short-term memory loss to slowed speech, physical tremors, and paranoia. If it is allowed to persist long enough, sleep deprivation can cause permanent damage and even death.

Of course, few of us are likely to get involved in a Manchurian Candidate-style situation that will lead to this sort of permanent damage. However, even slight sleep deprivation over an extended period of time can lead to reduced creativity, a loss of memory, and immune-system failure. According to some studies, long periods of sleep debt can also cause permanent damage.

In a recent article, Charles Czeisler, a doctor studying sleep deprivation at Harvard Medical School, argued that extended sleep debt can have the same effect as drinking on the job. He advised that companies seeking top productivity should prohibit employees from working more than one 16-hour period in a row and should refuse to allow them to work after late-night or overnight flights. While we're at it, you, as an employee, should be careful to get sufficient rest. While being the first one in the office and the last one to leave might impress your boss, I have a feeling that he or she will be more impressed by the creative, brilliantly crafted work that you'll produce if you get your required eight hours of sleep.

Come to think of it, most of the papers that I wrote during all-nighters were total dreck..

Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. He probably sleeps too much.

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