Sleep is for the Weak: Origins and Meaning

What do you think of when you hear, “Sleep is for the weak”? A sleep-deprived college student reaching for their tenth cup of coffee? An office worker with bloodshot eyes hunched over their keyboard? When Sleep Authorities heard this phrase, we wondered what the origin was; so, we started investigating.

Origins of Sleep is for the Weak

There’s actually no consensus on what the origin of this expression is. However, the original sentiments may be rooted in cultural values of hard work. The origins may also lie partly in societal expectations to push one’s self past healthy limits to perform at certain standards. In other words, many societies and cultures place great emphasis on work ethic and productivity. Since someone can’t work when they’re resting, sleep therefore may have become associated with unproductivity.

Other common expressions and sentiments may support this theory. For example, those who work despite drowsiness are said to “push through it” or even “power through it,” indicating strength. Conversely, it’s not uncommon to hear people who sleep in called “lazy,” which may also indicate weakness or a lack of willpower. Again, there’s no definitive origin for this phrase, but there’s reason to believe it may have sprung out of widely held beliefs regarding work ethic.

Meaning of Sleep is for the Weak

This expression implies sleep is something inconsequential or a luxury to indulge in. That sentiment couldn’t be further from the truth, though. Most know that missing a single night of sleep can cause irritability and mental fogginess. What many people don’t know, though, is that consistent sleep deprivation can increase the risk of some serious health problems. Among them are an increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and even stroke. That’s why it’s so important to get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep every night.

So, never believe someone when they say, “Sleep is for the weak.” In fact, the complete opposite is true. Getting quality sleep so you can wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle whatever the day has in store for you? That sounds pretty darn productive to us.

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Kristen Greif

Napper extraordinaire. Side/stomach sleeper. 25 solid years of experience with sleeping.