Monthly Archives: November 2011

Why Hackers Need to Get More Sleep: You are Not a Machine

The zone has a certain magic around it.  Once in, we don’t leave until the project is done, even if that means days and sometimes weeks (or 7 YEARS in the case of that guy who built his own 64-bit operating system because Jesus told him too [I wish I was kidding - check Youtube]).  Unfortunately, staying up all night hacking together a masterpiece leads to flexible modification of our natural evolutionary sleep cycles.  And this is bad.  Bad for our health, bad for those around us and bad for productivity in the days that follow.

Here’s why it’s a good idea to get some f’n sleep before you get that SDF keys permanently imprinted on your face:

Affect of lack of sleep on the following day’s productivity:

MIND

  • Procrastination.
  • Poor decision making.
  • Inability to think clearly.
  • Decreased comprehension.
  • More likely to “time-waste” and stare into space.
  • Reduced mental focus.
  • You make more mistakes.

BODY

  • Muscle weakness.
  • Headaches.
  • Lethargy.
  • Increased likelihood of poor food choices (junk food).
  • Weight gain.
  • Poor posture leading to unusual fat deposits.

RELATIONSHIPS

  • Irritability.
  • Mood swings.

Chores

  • Let’ sbe honest, once you exit the zone, you aren’t getting anything done for a few days.

Conclusion

Of course it’s fun, else you wouldn’t stay up all night coding an OCR engine for solitaire using Java.  But be mindful of the costs associated with doing all nighters without sleep for that masterpiece.  Ask yourself regularly if rest and recuperation would lead to better long term productivity, health and wellbeing.

Take regular breaks, breath deep and sleep if you feel you need it.

I’d add to lay off coffee binges, single units, at well timed intervals work best.

Hot tips for dealing with the morning after? Drop a comment.