Millennial Sleep Diary: The 40-Year-Old Hard-Working Early Riser

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Millennial Essay 3 by a workaholic in Chicago

Along with our survey on millennials and their unique sleeping habits and challenges, reporter Jamie Smith spoke to three millennials about their typical schedules and strategies. Here, Jonathan Rosenfeld, 40, from Chicago, IL, an early riser with a high-pressure, time-intensive job, runs through how he balances a typical workaholic millennial lifestyle with sleep needs. Read our essay from a 33-year-old millennial mom from Omaha here, and another with a 32-year-old Brooklyn influencer, for more insights. And make sure to check out our millennial-specific sleep tips!

As a father of two and an attorney, my days are very full. I have a lovely wife, Sarah, and two energetic children, Daniel and Emily, aged 8 and 6. They’re the light of my life and provide me with endless motivation and joy. I’m also the founder and managing attorney at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, a personal injury law firm.

I spend my days representing individuals and families who have been through traumatic experiences due to personal injury, medical malpractice, and nursing home negligence. My passion lies in advocating for those who are often overlooked or taken advantage of by powerful corporations and insurance companies. My job is very fulfilling but requires long hours. 

A typical day for me starts early, usually around 5:30 a.m. Even before getting out of bed, I check to see if there are any urgent emails or case updates that require my immediate attention. Once I’m up, I grab coffee and a quick breakfast while reviewing my schedule and prioritizing my tasks for the day. I’m usually in the office by 8:00 a.m., ready to tackle the day. 

Throughout the day, I’m involved in a wide range of activities, including meeting with clients to discuss their cases, negotiating settlements with opposing counsel, and representing clients in court hearings or depositions. I also spend a significant amount of time managing my team of attorneys and support staff, ensuring that everyone is aligned and working towards our common goal of securing justice for our clients.

I typically work at least 60 hours per week. However, that number often climbs much higher during particularly busy periods or when I’m working on high-profile cases. I try to leave the office in the early evening so that I can spend time with my family before they go to sleep, but my work rarely stops at the end of the standard workday. Sometimes I need to stay at the office late to see clients, prepare for a hearing, or meet a deadline. I often find myself working late into the night or on weekends to get everything done. 

Working such long hours is difficult and stressful, especially with young children at home. I do it because I know that I’m making a positive impact on the lives of my clients, but spending time with my family is also incredibly important to me. Sometimes I will leave work during the day to attend an event at my children’s school or leave work earlier than I should to have dinner with my family before working more once dinner is over. 

The demanding nature of my job combined with the importance of spending enough time with my family means I don’t get as much sleep as I would like. The stress and lack of sleep take a toll on my energy levels and concentration.

Getting enough sleep is incredibly important to me, as it directly impacts my ability to perform effectively in both my personal and professional life. When I’m well-rested, I’m better equipped to handle the challenges and responsibilities that come my way. I know that I need quality sleep to operate at my best, but getting enough sleep isn’t always possible. 

On average, I get around 6-7 hours of sleep per night. Ideally, I would like to get closer to 8 hours, but the demands of my profession and family life often make this impossible. It’s not uncommon for me to sacrifice sleep to handle urgent matters or spend more time with my family. 

The stress of managing a busy law practice and thinking about the suffering many of my clients are dealing with sometimes keeps me up at night. Being a parent comes with its share of anxieties and responsibilities. Worrying about my children’s well-being keeps me up as well. I worry about their health, education, overall happiness, and childcare. Additionally, financial concerns, such as providing for my family’s future and planning for unexpected expenses, also weigh on my mind at times.

In addition to work-related stress and family obligations, I often find it difficult to unwind after a long day. Additionally, I struggle with insomnia or restless sleep, especially during particularly stressful periods at work. 

Some nights, I don’t get a full night’s sleep because my children need me. I like being able to put them to sleep at night, but sometimes this is a prolonged process. My kids might also need me to comfort them at night when they are scared or sick. These responsibilities can interfere with my ability to get a full night’s rest. However, I wouldn’t trade these moments for anything, as they are an integral part of being a parent and bring me immense joy and fulfillment.

As a result of all of these challenges, I typically feel tired a few days a week. To get through the day, I rely on strategies such as taking short breaks, staying hydrated, and prioritizing tasks to conserve energy. 

Engaging in regular exercise and spending quality time with my family also helps me feel my best. When I’m able to catch up on sleep, disconnect from work, and unwind with loved ones, I feel rejuvenated and ready to take on whatever challenges come my way.

Because I know how important it is for me to get enough sleep, I try to practice good sleep hygiene. My sleep hours vary depending on my workload and family commitments, but I try to maintain a consistent bedtime routine. My goal is to be in bed by 11:00 pm every night, many nights I’m up much later.

I am so busy during the day that I often find it difficult to transition to winding down at night. I avoid drinking caffeine for several hours before bed to make it easier to fall asleep. I also have some nighttime rituals that help me get ready to sleep, including reading, listening to calming music, and practicing relaxation techniques. These rituals help signal to my body that it’s time to unwind and prepare for sleep, making it easier to transition into a restful state. 

I also try to limit screens in the bedroom to promote better sleep. I know how important it is to limit screens before bedtime, but sometimes I have to check my phone for urgent messages before going to sleep. I try to limit this as much as possible because minimizing exposure to blue light and stimulating content helps me relax and fall asleep more easily, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. 

After I fall asleep, I sometimes wake up during the night thinking about everything I have to do. I find that practicing deep breathing or visualization exercises can help me fall back asleep. Additionally, I may listen to soothing sounds or focus on relaxing my muscles to induce a sense of calm and drowsiness.

My wife and I designed our bedroom to promote relaxation and restful sleep. We have blackout curtains and comfortable bedding. We try to make our bedroom as calm and quiet as possible. Having a bedroom designed to promote sleep helps, but there are some factors I can’t control. I live in an urban environment and noise pollution can sometimes disrupt my sleep. Traffic, loud neighbors, and construction work sometimes keep me up or wake me up in the middle of the night. While I try to mitigate these disturbances by using white noise machines or earplugs, some nights are inevitably more challenging than others.

Jamie Smith

Jamie Smith

Jamie Davis Smith is an attorney, writer, and mother of four who values a good night's sleep. She loves exploring her hometown of Washington, DC, and beyond.

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