“I slept like, three hours last night. Studied ALL night,” lied the college student, who still doesn’t understand the material even though they are plenty smart enough and allegedly spent their night “studying.”
“Just be glad you got any sleep at all. I was up all night watching TV. Didn’t get a minute of sleep,” lied the office worker, who stayed up to 1 a.m. and just felt like they didn’t sleep.
“Oh, you think you’re tired? I haven’t slept a good night’s sleep in weeks,” boasted the boss — it was probably true, but no one cares that they won the sleeplessness competition.
For some reason, how little sleep you get seems to be a badge of honor in many areas in the civilian world. If one person says they’re tired, the next has to show much much more tired they are. Then the third guy says those two don’t know anything, and that this one time they went twice as long as both of them put together without any sleep at all. It keeps going and going, and by the end the first guy — the tired one — just meanders back to his desk because he was just making small talk as he grabbed some coffee.
Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But if you open your ears, you don’t have to listen long before you hear this kind of talk. It likely comes from the mouth of someone with something to prove, since their actions probably aren’t proving themselves (hence the excuse for being so tired, masked in a humblebrag).
The truth is that rest is not something that should be forgone. In a tactical environment, it’s extremely important that you get some rest so you can operate at the highest level possible. If you’re traipsing through Afghanistan after a Taliban commander, no one ought to be trying to look tough by not needing sleep. Everyone is there to complete a mission, and the more rested they are, the more likely they are to accomplish that mission. Of course, sleep is nowhere near the highest on the list of priorities, but it is important to get when possible.
This translates to any duty in the civilian world thereafter. There is no sense in poorly scheduling sleep; there is less sense in bragging about it later.
Of course, this excludes those who cannot sleep for legitimate health reasons. There are a myriad of reasons for sleepless nights — traumatic injury to the body, PTSD or consistent night terrors, just to name a few. However, those peoples’ performance in daily life will suffer because of their ailment, be it in their work or relationships, and they ought to seek professional help. Oh, and there’s children, but that’s a whole separate thing entirely (something I am not qualified to speak on).
In the military world there is a time to tough things out. There is a time to push through a million sleepless nights and forgo food and comfort and warmth all to complete the mission and get your buddies out alive.
However, if you have the chance — especially in the civilian world — there is also a time to get yourself at 100%. Not for your own sake, but for the sake of the mission. The fact that it’s good for the soul is just an added benefit.
Images courtesy of the US Army.