Coders don't get much sleep - it's official
Tuesday, 23 November 2010

A recent study has concluded that being a software engineer isn't good for your health. Apparently we don't sleep well - something we probably all already know...



Researchers Sara  Zadeh and Khyrunnisa Begum from the University of Mysore in India studied the sleep patterns of 91 "software engineers" aged between 21 and 45. The participants completed two questionnaires: The first looked at insomnia and sleep quality; the second assessed their quality of life.

The authors found that 56 percent of the participants had mild (35%) or severe (21%) insomnia, compared to 23 percent in the general population. In contrast to what other studies have shown, younger engineers were more likely to be insomniacs than their older counterparts. In terms of gender differences, more women suffered from mild insomnia than men while more men suffered from severe insomnia than women. As you can imagine the quality of life measures were lower for the people with insomnia.



The researchers conclude that software engineers should be given sleep assessment as a routine health check.

What the study doesn't explore is why programmers can't sleep. The term "software engineer" also covers a large range of activities and different degrees of actual coding as part of the job. I don't know about you but I certainly wake up in the middle of the night with a solution to some bug and yes, I do  "dream in code".  The intense mental activity that is part of generating code doesn't just switch off when you decide it is time. It is part of the reason most good programmers will stick at a task until it is complete, even if it means working outside of normal hours. 

There are a lot of unanswered questions here.

The full paper is available (by subscription) at:


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research by Sara Sarrafi Zadeh and Khyrunnisa Begum from the University of Mysore in India
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 23 November 2010 )