Chancellor Angela Merkel dashes from one meeting to the next between cities in Europe, and sometimes pops across the Atlantic, too. Negotiations often stretch into the small hours, and getting enough sleep is a scarce luxury, not to mention the jet lag on top of all. Angela Merkel, however, has said that four hours of sleep is enough for her. We’ve seen similar stretching here in Finland at the time of collective bargaining. In pressing situations where a solution must be reached, long hours and marathon meetings are nothing new under the sun. But are we talking about conscious negotiation tactics or about something the situation requires? One can’t help but wonder in how sound mind and body important decisions are being made. A massive machinery is at work behind negotiations, of course, but it still takes stamina.
The need for sleep is individual. Most of us need seven or eight hours of sleep per night, some do fine with just four. But we all know from experience that too little sleep lowers our performance. Our energy levels sink, we lose concentration, we have trouble remembering things and we get irritated. Long-term lack of sleep makes us susceptible to diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, overweight, stress, memory problems and even memory diseases and depression, and it weakens our immune system.
Here at the university, both students and staff members put in long hours every week. There’s a lot to do and deadlines to meet. Moreover, involvement in international networks requires travelling: early starts and late returns. Students, too, can find themselves in cross pressure between work and exams. There’s nothing like stress and work-related worries when it comes to losing sleep.
After a tough week, one needs to recover. It’s a good thing that a night of little sleep and sleep debt can be compensated for. During the weekend, for example, recovery sleep can be used to help the body recover. In other words, power napping is something to be recommended: it’s free and good for health.