On May 9th, Glamour published an interview with prolific author Danielle Steel. In it, Steel admits that it’s normal for her to work 20-22 hours per day, even pulling entire 24-hour shifts writing from time to time. According to Steel, getting four hours of sleep is the most she usually has, and that’s on a “good night” for her.
“Dead or alive, rain or shine, I get to my desk and I do my work. Sometimes I’ll finish a book in the morning, and by the end of the day, I’ve started another project,” Steel says.
It’s great to be motivated and love what you do. Most people have jobs that they either tolerate or actively hate. So, good for Danielle Steel having a passion.
Sleeping for four hours a night or less? That’s an obsession, not a passion. It’s also not something to be praised, as promoting that sort of lifestyle can be incredibly harmful.
Steel also believes that people should have her work ethic, and believes that frivolous millennials aren’t doing enough. In the article, she essentially says that demanding a work-life balance is misguided.
“They expect to have a nice time,” she says. “And pardon me, but I think your twenties and a good part of your thirties are about working hard so that you have a better quality of life later on. I mean, I never expected that quality of life at 25. I had three jobs at the same time, and after work I wrote.”
Let’s first talk about working 20-22 hours per day. Getting less than seven hours of sleep a night is harmful to your health.
According to WebMD, here’s a list of problems you’ll encounter when your body doesn’t get enough sleep:
- Drowsiness that can impair you so much that it’s similar to being drunk. Work accidents, car wrecks, and more can happen as a result of sleeplessness.
- Sleep loss “impairs attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem solving.”
- It makes you more susceptible to a variety of diseases:
- Heart disease
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- Irregular heartbeat
- High blood pressure
- Not getting enough sleep negatively impacts your libido.
- You’ll be more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety.
- You’re missing out on your beauty sleep. “Chronic sleep loss can lead to lackluster skin, fine lines, and dark circles under the eyes.”
- When you don’t sleep enough, your memory suffers. You’re more prone to forgetting things.
- Sleeplessness makes you hungrier, leading to weight gain.
Praising work over health is nothing new in the Western world. It doesn’t matter if you’re a CEO of a giant corporation or a high school freshman, we’re all taught that hard work matters above all else. People regularly brag about how little sleep they got last night.
This sort of behavior glorifies unhealthy habits. We know the benefits of sleep and why our bodies need it, so why do we treat it as something optional? Let’s create a society that embraces sleep and views it as necessary as exercise or healthy eating.
Let’s move on to the next part of the interview, where Steel talks about how millennials expect an easier time in regards to their work-life balance. Let’s also put aside how annoying it is when people constantly accuse millennials of ruining everything and demanding too much, because that’s a post for another day.
First things first – we do not live to work. Work should not take up our entire lives to the point that we don’t have time to enjoy being alive.
We have every right to demand fair work environments and a work-life balance. It’s not fair to miss your son’s baseball game because you’re forced to work overtime. It’s not fair to have to work non-stop in order to get ahead, at the detriment to the time you spend on hobbies that give you joy.
I’ve always loathed America’s obsession with working harder and longer. If you love your job, maybe. Most of us don’t though, and the time we spend outside of work is what is ultimately important to our happiness and quality of life.