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Don’t expect to find Ronit Rogoszinski in meetings, entertaining clients, or hunched over her desk around lunchtime. The 45-year-old wealth adviser and financial planner in New York describes herself as an expert “practitioner of the power nap.” After waking up at about 5 a.m., sending her kids off to school, and putting in a morning of meeting with clients, Rogoszinski needs to crash. “By noon, my brain starts to fry,” she says. So she heads to one of her hideouts—her car, for example—to recharge. As she puts it, “I’m not quite sure how I’d handle the day without that timeout.”
Rogoszinski is by no means a lone clandestine sleeper. Comments on Wall Street Oasis, a Web forum popular among investment bankers, reveal an obsessive interest in daytime napping, with tips on “sleep hacking” (moving to polyphasic sleep schedules), recommendations on where to doze (bathroom stalls, conference rooms), and directions for how to act when caught (as if nothing unusual had happened). When nodding off on a toilet, “you clearly need the seat down for maximum comfort,” advises one commenter, “which necessitates pants up to prevent your bare ass on the cold porcelain. Longest I ever slept uninterrupted without tipping over was two hours, from 4-6am.”
Many Wall Street types use power-napping to make up for lost sleep. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health Interview Survey lists finance as the eighth-most-sleep-deprived occupation. (Home health aides, lawyers, police officers, and paramedics make up the top four.) In another study, published in January in Administrative Science Quarterly, Dr. Alexandra Michel of the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business mapped the sleep deprivation of investment bankers over a nine-year period. She discovered that maladies including back pain, depression, and physical tics emerge—and affect performance—as soon as the fourth year...