The Professions That Get the Most (and Least) Sleep

Sleep and job advancement may not seem like they go together, but they’re more connected than you might think. If you’re trying to move ahead in your career, sleep may be the answer. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that occupation can factor into how much you sleep. If you’re in a profession that’s known for skipping some shut-eye, you might need to take extra precautions to get the rest you need.

Experts agree that the average adult needs at least seven hours of sleep. Those seven hours are vital to professional success. Adequate sleep affects how you think and feel. For example, while you sleep, your brain continues to learn. It makes connections between old and new experiences. That process enhances recall, boosts creativity, and helps you retain new information.

But professional success relies on more than your mental acuity. Your ability to connect with others and work as part of a team matter too. Sleep acts as an emotional regulator for the brain.

Without enough rest, your brain’s emotional center becomes hypersensitive and over-reactive to negative experiences, thoughts, and emotions. When you’re tired, controlling those emotions is harder because your reasoning center, which normally keeps your emotions in check, becomes less active. Sleep helps maintain your professionalism, perspective, and relationships in the workplace.

Who’s Sleeping the Most

The assumption that high-stress occupations beget less sleep holds true. However, there are some surprising exceptions. Here’s a look at professions that get the most sleep, according to the CDC’s 2017 report.

  1. Forestry, Farming, Fishing: Physical labor and time spent outside could be at the heart of better sleep.
  2. Education: Teachers and librarians may be smart enough to know when it’s time to say goodnight.
  3. Social Service and Community Workers: Counselors, social workers, and religious workers serve others but take time for their own health.
  4. Scientists and Technicians: Those scientific minds need sleep to fuel new ideas and breakthroughs.
  5. Math and Computer Science: Is it their logical minds that rest better or working with numbers that lull them into a restful sleep?

Who’s Sleeping the Least

While counselors may be resting easy, there are other professions that are known for keeping people from their beds, namely:

  1. Production: Woodworkers, printing workers, and plant operators don’t seem to get the rest they need. Could it be deadlines or perfecting their craft?
  2. Healthcare Support: The stress of these jobs like nursing aides and physical therapists could be keeping them awake.  
  3. Healthcare Practitioners and Technicians: Doctors, nurses, and technicians are often working on little sleep due to demanding work schedules.
  4. Food Preparation and Service: Cooks and servers may work odd hours, and if their job is low paying, it might not be their only one.
  5. Protective and First Responders: There’s no surprise here. These physically and emotionally demanding jobs are first on the scene night or day. In the process, they often witness the worst (and best) of humanity.

Go to Sleep

The reasons behind whether an occupation helps or hinders sleep may not be readily apparent. For some, it could be that the kind of people attracted to that job have a mindset that allows them to sleep better. But, no matter your occupation, you need adequate sleep. Everyone can develop the habits and conditions to add sleep hours to their day.

  • Sleep-Supportive Environment: Your bedroom environment makes a big difference in your ability to sleep. Cool, dark, and quiet should describe it every night. A mattress that keeps your spine aligned while relieving pressure points is also a must.
  • Strict Bedtime: Your brain adapts to follow your schedule, which can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. A consistent bedtime also makes sure you’re spending enough time in bed.
  • Strategic Bedtime Routine: A good bedtime routine helps you relieve tension and transition into a calm, sleepy state. It’s also a training tool so that your brain knows when to release sleep hormones.
  • Less screen time: Electronic screens can emit a light that suppresses sleep hormones in a way that’s similar to sunlight. Turn those screens off two or three hours before bed to make sure social media or Netflix aren’t behind your sleeplessness.

To find out more about boosting employee engagement levels within your business, download the People First guide.


Samantha Kent - https://www.sleephelp.org/

Samantha Kent is a researcher for SleepHelp.org. Her favorite writing topic is how getting enough sleep can improve your life. Currently residing in Boise, Idaho, she sleeps in a California King bed, often with a cat on her face.