Sophie Wilkinson | Contributing Editor | 1,214 day ago

Since When Did Taking A Snooze Get So Political?

The Debrief: Cara Delevingne and Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer have both been criticised for taking a snooze this week. Are we really that competitive about napping now?

Sleep has become a competitive sport. In the same way people will brag about how little they’ve spent on an item of clothing – ‘Oh, this? I got it for £4 from a charity shop?’ – people now show off about how they’ve managed to make it in to work after pulling an all-nighter, how they survived a festival weekend on two hours’ snooze-time, or how they – like Madonna or Margaret Thatcher before them – can manage on only four hours of sleep a night.

It’s all thanks to the fact our lives have become permanently switched on – from the moment we wake up we’re greeted by Facebook messages, Instagram likes and tweets and in the minutes before bed we bathe ourselves in our small screen’s glare. In that environment, staying up, even if it’s just to read a book, watch that extra episode of Orange Is The New Black or send mates snapchats of cartoon faces drawn onto your stomach, is just as renegade as a night out at The Box, drinking mojitos and accepting canapé’s from nipple-pastied dwarves.

Getting an early night is the quickest route to FOMO, like we’re the first one to doze off in a middle of a slumber party as everyone chatters and giggles around us. Sleep is time, and time is money, so to sleep is almost to indulge in a luxury, at a time where jobs are precious and networking – URL or IRL – is seen as of utmost, life-defining importance.

Getting an early night is the quickest route to FOMO, like we’re the first one to doze off in a middle of a slumber party as everyone chatters around us

Cue Cara Delevingne – a model who traverses the world fortnightly, moonlights to record music, acts, and is paid to party – being taken apart for sleeping during some work commitments. Plum Sykes from US Vogue revealed that she was 20 minutes’ late for an interview, having overslept. Upon arrival, Cara suggested they go for a massage – OK, weird, but why not? – then fell asleep. Apologising, she said, ‘I’m so sorry! I fall asleep everywhere!’

Turns out that was the truth. She really does fall asleep everywhere. As Tim Walker, who’s shot many of the high-concept ad campaigns Cara stars in for Mulberry, attested, ‘Every shoot I’ve done with her, she’s fallen asleep. She slept for seven hours on one Mulberry shoot.’ Maybe Tim could make a book out of her asleep, though it would have been someone else’s idea.

‘Someone recently asked if they could publish a book of pictures of me sleeping, because there are so many,’ Cara also revealed in the interview.

Cue lots of insinuations that Cara’s slacking off/partying too hard/and a whole load of faux-concern on her behalf. Including the intro to the US Vogue interview: ‘Dear reader, to misquote Oscar Wilde, can I say that to oversleep once for a Vogue interview may be regarded as a misfortune, but to oversleep twice looks like carelessness?’

But hold on a minute – maybe she just gets a little bit sleepy? Cara took to Twitter to defend herself against the accusations. ‘Why do people in the industry lie so much???? They would rather see you fail than succeed. What happened to supporting each other.’

She added, ‘It’s even worse when your trying to fight people that have all the power, because then you are powerless,’ she added. ‘All I can say is that I work extremely hard and “sleeping” is proof that sometimes I work too hard. I apologise for being so ambitious [sic].’

‘All I can say is that I work extremely hard and “sleeping” is proof that sometimes I work too hard. I apologise for being so ambitious’

OK, full disclosure: the night before the US Vogue interview, Cara might have been out partying with Lily Allen, but this was at a Fendi event she was meant to go along to… for work. When work hours are so all-consuming, is it really that bad to have a little doze? Have we really got so competitive about sleep that someone who works hard is derided for nodding off after a massage?

After all, Cara’s not the only one to be slated for resting while on-duty – Marissa Meyer, CEO of Yahoo, has also faced opprobrium for oversleeping. Earlier this week, news leaked that she was meant to meet marketers looking to do business with her company, but was two hours late for a dinner meeting in Cannes (which is six hours ahead of her normal time-zone).

One guest grumbled: ‘If it were an investor meeting, a board meeting or a potential acquisition, I’m sure she or someone from her team would have woken her up… she demonstrated that she doesn’t understand the value of clients, ad revenue or agencies.’

Well, if she works hard and does well – and might be a bit jetlagged – does it really matter if she sleeps every now and then? Would it have been better if she’d turned up half-asleep, unable to communicate, with dribble crusted down one side of her face? And more to the point, would anyone have even thought to comment on her sleep status if she’d been a man?

And with regards to Cara, what is she meant to do on hours-long shoots where she’s not required that much? Pull funny faces? It’s not only these alpha women juggling jobs with jobs and careers with children with an added extra of international travel who feel compelled to never let go of the day, who feel they need to be clocked-in and switched-on 24/7 no matter the time-zone. It’s people like us, and probably you, too.

Maybe, when it comes to getting irate over people getting a bit of sleep, whether it’s dozing through a massage, oversleeping a dinner or just bothering to take a disco nap, we should – quite literally – just give it a rest.

Like this? You might also be interested in:

Getting Ready For A Monday Morning Meeting When You’ve Only Had Six Hours Sleep All Weekend

Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson

Picture: Sophie Davidson 

Tags: Sleep (or lack of), Cara Delevingne