Sunday, June 29, 2014

Poll - Do Scientists Sleep?

Update (July 1): Looks like we have some Lucky Sevens!*
Mean, Median, and Mode for the first 17 entries? Seven hours of sleep.

There's a 3.5-hour difference in start times.**
Interestingly, there seems to be a correlation between hours slept and arrival at work - longer sleepers show up later in the morning.***

*Sleep value (hours) taken at the lowest part of specified range. 
**Morning start time pegged to center of specified times.
***Start time prior to 7AM: 5.75 hours; Start time after 9:00AM: 8 hours


Scientists: Does sleep help you, or hold you back?

I've read many recent articles claiming that "successful" writers, leaders, and inventors sleep less than the rest of us. I recently switched jobs, and that change - along with some biometric monitoring over the last month - has finally answered nagging questions about my sleep habits. But before I spill the beans, I'd like to pose three questions to you, dear readers:

1. How much do you sleep each night?

2. What time do you start work?

3. Are you productive?

Leave the answers in the comments.
Please be as accurate and honest as you can.
Looking forward to hearing from you!


  1. 1. I always sleep 7 - 7.5 hrs each night (usually uninterrupted)
    2. Arrive at 8am every morning and work until 6-7pm
    3. Fairly productive but find it difficult to work efficiently all day long. I used to work shorter hours (9-5 or 8-4) and found I used my time far more effectively.

    Just FYI this is from a 3rd year PhD student in Australia.

  2. 1. I need my 8 hours of sleep every night, although sometimes I can get by with 7.
    2. Arrive between 8 and 9 AM.
    3. That's a loaded question! Jokes aside, I am fairly productive but there's always room for improvement, isn't there? I am certainly not as efficient as my old grad school classmate with three kids who used to work exactly 9 to 5 every day and still got twice as much done as most of us.

  3. 1. 7.5 hours sleeping
    2. In between 7 and 9 am
    3. Ask me in August. If I'm graduating, yes.

  4. It has been shown in a famous paper by Ericsson ( ) that world class violinists actually sleep _more_ than moderate skill professionals. It has been explained by the necessity to recover from longer periods of so called "deliberate practice". The whole paper is amazing and worth a look. It is definitely a long reading, though.

    On the poll:
    1. 6-8 hours on weekdays, 8-10 hours on weekends to recover. Sometimes - 12 hours bursts.
    2. between 8-40 and 9am
    3. double Wavefunction.

  5. 1) 7-8 hours every night. 8 is my ideal and I'll wake up with no alarm at 8 hours on the dot.
    2) 8 am
    3) Yes. I generally work 43-47 hours a week and I'm far more productive than when I was in the lab much more during grad school.

  6. 1. Typically about 7.5 hours.
    2. 0830–0900.
    3. Pretty productive (when I'm not filling in sleep surveys on blogs), and as above, noticeably more productive than I was when working longer hours in the lab.

    If I go more than a few nights without getting a proper sleep then I can barely function.

  7. 1. My fitbit tells me that I've averaged 6.5 hours over the last 3 months...
    2. Usually 9:15 am (occasionally 8:15 am if I need to work on the train in the morning – rare). I tend to work late into the night rather than early in the morning (if I have to work extra).
    3. Well, we get a journal out each month...

  8. 1) 8 +/- an hour
    2) 9:30am
    3) I used to feel not productive because despite enough sleep I always felt tired and would crash, sleeping 10+ hours a night every few days. I got enough work done, but not much else. Recently I was diagnosed with hypersomnia and now that I have a treatment plan, I can stay at work later and generally get more work done while I'm there.

  9. 1) I sleep 7 hours or so a night, and its frequently less than that. Recently my neighbors have been waking me up so I am only getting like 4-6 hours, which is no good.
    2) I get to work at 8am-8:45ish (as an professor, I go in later in the summer) and stay until 6-7, sometimes later
    3) I don't feel like I am productive enough. I get all my grading done, but it definitely gets slower the later it gets. My writing could be more productive, and usually isn't that productive after 9:30pm or so.

    I get the feeling from talking to my colleagues that all of the professors (or at least those who aren't full profs) don't get much sleep.

  10. 1. Ranges between 6 and 7.
    2. 6 AM to 7:30 AM (other factors at play (child care, etc.))
    3. Not really. I could be better.

  11. I usually get at least 7.5 hours per night, but I prefer more than 8. And I'm one of those people who fall asleep within a minute or so once I go to bed; I've been that way for many years.

    When I get in to work depends on which train I catch. The earlier one gets me in between 8 and 8:15, and the later one is more like 8:45 to 9.

    I'm reasonably productive - I write the blog on the train, and for a while there I was blogging, working, and writing a book manuscript. I frequently get asked how I do what I do, so I guess other people feel that I'm getting a lot done. But like most people, I'm pretty sure that I could do more than I do.

  12. 1. 7+ hours of sleep. Anything less than that and productivity falls.
    2. I get to work at 9:30 (gym first)
    3. Tough one to answer. Depends on the day and my discipline. But getting the right amount of sleep helps (too little and I'm easily distracted, too much and I'm groggy).

  13. 1) Probably about 6-7 (closer to 6).
    2) Start time varies - mostly now between 8:30 and 9 - depends on when children get up and whether my daughter was going to preschool.
    3) Not horribly. I can get things done at home sometimes, but I don't think I'm terribly productive. This hasn't changed a whole lot since grad school, alas - I just have less chemistry bandwidth when I'm taking care of munchkins. It does depend on sleep, though - if I get too little, I'm useless, while more than 6 or so and I'm tolerable.

  14. 1. I need a solid 8-9 hours of sleep... which translates to 10+ hours of "sleep" because I wake up so often (as evidenced by my fitbit).
    2. Average, 9am, though it ranges between 7am and 10am, depending on meetings, sleep, etc.
    3. Yes, though I have a sort of high/low productivity cycle.

  15. 1. 9–10 hours, but it's a little harder to sleep when summer comes in the Mid-Atlantic...
    2. 10 am, usually stay until 9 or 9:30
    3. I'd say I'm reasonably productive, but one thing that I can't stress enough is that this comes not only from time at the bench but also reading journals and thinking about where my project is going and should go. Without the downtime it's likely that I'll do a lot of stuff without getting much done (if you know what I mean).

  16. 6-7. Used to feel that I needed way more(8-9), but started eating carbs right before bed and can now function during the day on less sleep than I used to. Not recommended unless you have an abnormally high metabolism though.

  17. You folks are amazing! Guess it's time to answer my own survey...

    1. 5.5 - 6 hours / night (fitbit)

    2. 6:30AM

    3. I'll defer to my readers' opinions, but I like to think I get enough done.

  18. 1. avg. 7h sleep
    2. try to start between 7.30 and 8, at least in summer (biking to work) may be later during winter.
    3. reasonable productive?

  19. 1. Currently 8-9 hrs sleep.
    2. Between 7.30 - 8.30am.
    3. I consider myself fairly productive - but it does vary depending on (a) mood/mental state (b) the experiments I'm doing (do I cram in 3 reactions per day, or take it easy with just 1?). I think that my productivity depends less on the amount of sleep I get, more on what I do first when I get in to work. If I spend the first 30 min of my day browsing Facebook it leads to a non-productive day, whereas if I set up a reaction immediately the day tends to be more productive...

  20. 1. 7.5 - 8.5 hours of sleep.
    2. I try to get in between 7:30 and 8:30 depending on what's going on that particular day.
    3. I think I'm relatively productive. I have cycles of less/more productive typically based on outside variables.

  21. 1. I try to get 8 hours now. I usually go to bed when my wife does, between 10 and 11 pm. I usually wake up between 3 and 5 am (naturally) and read news for a hour or so, then go back to sleep until the alarm goes off.

    2. I generally get out of bed between 7 and 8, do some computer work until 10-11 am, then shower and get into the office around mid-day. Now that I just started teaching at 8am, this schedule has gone to hell.

    3. I wish I were more productive, but I think I get a lot of work done. I don't think any lack of productivity is from sleeping too much or too little.

  22. 1. How much do you sleep each night? 7h

    2. What time do you start work? 7.30 am

    3. Are you productive? Fairly - of course it could always be better.

  23. 1) Sleep: 7.5-8 hrs per day
    2) Start work 8-8:30 am, stay until around 6 most days.
    3) Fairly productive, but my multitasking ability decreases drastically after about 4 pm, so my last few hours are more about finishing up a running a experiment rather than starting anything new.

  24. 1. Maybe 7 hours (highly variable), counting the part in the middle where the cat races around the house like a madman
    2. Get in at like 10:30, lol (and work till 2200-2300 most days)
    3. P*ss off! :P

  25. 1. 7.5 hours a day (actually much of it isn't at night - I'm permanently locked into a 5AM-1PM sleep phase).
    2. Not applicable - I'm not in the work force. (I'm basically a theory-oriented mad scientist.)
    3. It depends on what you mean by productive. I don't get as much done as I'd like, but I'm trying to keep up with science (not just chemistry) which is a hopeless task (and it's getting worse).

    1. 8 hours once we started no-blue lights after 8pm and found we could fall asleep -- before that change it was much harder to get to sleep