Kenneth Nowack, Ph.D.


Research by Sylvia Ann-Hewlett and Carolyn Luce shows that 62% of high-earning individuals work more than 50 hours per week, 35% work more than 60 hours a week and 10% work more than 80 hours (Hewlett, A. & Luce, C. (2006). Extreme jobs. The dangerous allure of the 70-hour workweek. Harvard Business Review, December 2006, pp. 1-12). Their findings suggest that more than 70% of professionals reported not getting enough sleep.

Leaders and others know that the sleep-deprived are typically moody, miserable, and just not much fun to be around. New research from UC Berkeley using MRI technology helps explain why for the first time.

The study is the first to show exactly what areas of the brain are affected by sleep deprivation (Yoo, S., Gujar,N., Hu,P., Jolesz, F., & and Walker, M. (2007). The human emotional brain without sleep — a prefrontal amygdala disconnect. (Current Biology. Vol 17, R877-R878, 23 October 2007).

In the UC Berkeley study of 26 young adults, half of the subjects were kept awake for 35 hours straight and the other half were allowed a normal night’s sleep in that same time period. Then all of the subjects were hooked up to an MRI and shown a number of images while the researchers monitored what happened in their brains as each image was shown.

The sleep-deprived subjects showed significant activity in the amygdala (the section of the brain that puts the body on alert to protect itself and control emotions), and simultaneously, showed slowed activity in the prefrontal cortex (which controls logical reasoning). On the other hand, subjects who got a full night of sleep showed normal brain activity.

Americans are among the most sleep-deprived people in the world with 40% of Americans getting less than seven hours of sleep a night, according to a 2005 poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation. Additionally, 75% of Americans reported having some sort of sleep disorder one or two nights a week (

What this means for most people is that a sleepless night or very poor quality of sleep can cause employees to overreact to emotional challenges that they would otherwise be able to tolerate without any trouble.

So, if you have sleep-deprived talent and leaders who lack emotional intelligence — look out — their amygdala is already compromised….Be well…


[tags]insomnia, sleep, fatigue, depression, sleep disorders, fatigue countermeasures, REM, NREM, circadian rhythms, stress, health, job burnout, kenneth nowack, ken nowack, nowack[/tags]