In a world where online channels are constantly changing and evolving, it can feel near impossible to keep up. Digital marketers have become more of an umbrella term used to describe the many hats they wear through marketing on various websites, SEO, and social media platforms. However, this often can lead to overwhelming amounts of work and feeling like there is simply not enough time in the day to complete it all. 

I conducted a survey among digital marketers to see if their careers have affected their sleep and the majority of them said they often are working overtime and sleeping less in order to meet strict deadlines and create the most effective campaign or marketing solutions for the companies or brands they work for. However, this cycle of a work overload and not getting the appropriate amount of sleep could lead to a digital marketer burning out.

What Causes a “Burnout”?

According to a January 2017 survey, the second and third contributors that cause a worker to burnout is “unreasonable workload (32%), and too much overtime or after-hours work (32%)” (Moran, 2017). In my research I was able to see a pattern of how this work habit has led to sleep deprivation among digital marketers.

Stress of Deadlines

After interviewing 12 digital marketers, from different work environments varying from working remote or on site, I was able to determine that one thing had become a trend among them. Most of them were working well over the 40 hour work week.This was due to working on various projects with very time sensitive deadlines. In order to meet these deadlines, many digital marketers said they would stay up for extended hours in order to complete their tasks. However, this led to them feeling run down, some even said delusional for the days to follow.

Stressful Deadlines

When asked the question of how many hours on average these digital marketers slept each night, 66% said on average they get less than the recommended 7-8 hours. More than 50% said they even get as little as 4 hours of sleep on a daily basis. In order to push through the day, many opted for caffeinated drinks, some as many as 3-4 a day in order to give them the bursts of energy needed to focus on the task at hand. This overconsumption of caffeine can play a significant role in digital marketers sleep habits and drive throughout the day.

The Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Since beginning their career in digital marketing, many stated they had a significant change in their sleep patterns. There is this pressure to ensure they are staying on top of trends and optimizing all marketing efforts on various platforms. Despite the fact that 75% of the digital marketers I interviewed stated that their sleep was very important to them, 58% of them were willing to sacrifice their sleep to ensure their productivity. However this sacrifice has left each one feeling more clouded mentally, slower in making creative decisions, and struggling with being social in networking events.

Working Late

One digital marketer even stated that after staying up for an extended period of time affected her ability to actually focus on her work and would find herself making errors and taking longer than it would’ve if she had a good night’s sleep. According to a study conducted by The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, “Fatigue-related productivity losses were estimated to cost $1967/employee annually” (Rosekind, 2010).

Benefits of Prioritizing Sleep for Productivity

I had the opportunity to interview Gina, who has been a digital marketer for a year now who has experienced the effects of sleep deprivation at the hand of her work overload. According to Gina, her sleep habits changed significantly once beginning her career. It called for earlier mornings, later nights, and an heightened need for those midday caffeine pickups. In the beginning she used to only drink caffeine maybe 2-3 times a week but due to her deadlines, this increased to 2-3 a day. This also led to an increase of stress as she felt the projects kept multiplying and her mind being scattered due to the lack of sleep. However, after six months of this routine, Gina knew she had to make a change.

Gina began writing in her planner daily to prioritize her responsibilities on a daily basis but giving herself at least 7 hours of sleep. By making this change, she found she was able to begin the day focused, well rested, and motivated, rather than exhausted and frazzled. She no longer needed that second cup of coffee in order to face the day and was able to increase her productivity significantly.

Why Should Digital Marketers Care?

Sleep deprivation is something that can negatively affect one’s work and the content they are presenting. Though each digital marketer defined a work overload in a different way, each felt it in some form or another and the philosophy was the same for most of them. Work comes first, and sleep will come when they are done.

As I completed my research, the responses support that though it is important to remain agile and meet deadlines, it loses value when you are unable to put your best work forward. By prioritizing a good night’s rest, digital marketers were able to produce strategies and content that is done with intention and a clear mind instead of it being tainted with the lack of sleep.