Photo: Sylvie Bouchard /Shutterstock
Productive employees with a strong work ethic are always going to climb their way up the career ladder, but there is a point when an employee’s commitment to his job crosses the line and can impact his health. Last weekend, Moritz Erhardt, a London-based Bank of America intern died after reportedly working for 72 hours straight. While we can only speculate about his cause of death, the fact that it came after a working binge is highly suspect.
Competition for jobs is strong in the investment banking industry and those who are considered team players — including interns who go above and beyond basic expectations — are likely to get a full-time gig. That means many late nights at work trying to keep ahead of the competition, and that cuts into sleep.
In an article for NYMag.com, Kevin Roose shared insights into the investment banking industry’s working hours. “While reporting my upcoming book about young Wall Street bankers, I heard dozens of horror stories about overwork: A banker who set up a cot in the boiler room of his firm's office to minimize his commute. A group of young analysts who turned to black-market amphetamines in order to get themselves through a particularly tough stretch. A banker who got severely ill, then paid out of pocket for a hotel room near his workplace so that he wouldn't miss any hours (or put his big bonus at risk).”
Investment bankers aren’t the only ones pulling all-nighters, though. I’ve known many information technology professionals who have pulled 36+ hour shifts during major outages, including my husband. In his case, it wasn’t a common occurrence but even missing out on one night’s sleep temporarily affected his health.
Sleep isn’t a luxury, it is a basic human necessity and it contributes to one’s overall health. According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, “In the short term, a lack of adequate sleep can affect judgment, mood, ability to learn and retain information, and may increase the risk of serious accidents and injury. In the long term, chronic sleep deprivation may lead to a host of health problems including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even early mortality.”
Early mortality … Erhardt was only 21 years old. Today’s competitive jobs market may have unintended long-term impacts on the health of our nation’s citizens – a sleepless nation is not a healthy nation.
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