Being a translator is rather like being a student… No, we don’t slough about all day playing Candy Crush and listening to music on our mobile phones. What I mean is that we have to concentrate, read, do research on the internet and then take ‘exams’, these being the A-grade papers (I hope) we produce for our clients. It is generally accepted that taking exams is highly stressful and that when you are taking them you need plenty of sleep to ensure you do your best. In my opinion translators should take the same extremely good care of ourselves and make sure that our most important tools, our brains, are in tip-top condition. One of the best ways of doing this is to make sure that we get plenty of sleep.
Losing sleep makes you forgetful and has a negative impact on your work and mental health. In 2009, American and French researchers determined that brain events called “sharp wave ripples” are responsible for consolidating memory. These ripples also transfer learned information from the hippocampus to the neocortex of the brain, where long-term memories are stored. Sharp wave ripples occur mostly during the deepest levels of sleep.
Lack of sleep can affect our interpretation of events. It inhibits your ability to make reasoned judgements because you may not assess situations accurately and act on them wisely. So not getting to bed on time may lead you to take terrible decisions, make software errors and freak out at your project manager.
Sleep-deprived people seem to be especially prone to poor judgment when it comes to assessing what lack of sleep is doing to them. In a world governed by deadlines, functioning on less sleep has become a kind of badge of honour. But sleep specialists say if you think you’re doing fine on less sleep, you’re probably wrong. And if you work in a profession like translation where it’s important to be able to judge your level of functioning, this can be a big problem.
Perhaps even worse, lack of sleep ages your skin and leaves you with fine lines and dark circles under your eyes. Agghhh! What’s more, it makes you fat! However, the good news is that the more you snooze, the more you lose! According to a 2004 study, people who sleep less than six hours a day are almost 30 per cent more likely to become obese than those who sleep seven to nine hours.