The enterprise mobility gurus at iPass released a survey this week that indicates a significant number of people wake up in the middle of the night to check their e-mail. Although many of the respondents are likely to fall into the "always on call" category, the behavior patterns described in the survey are familiar enough, even though I haven't been on call since the mid-1990s. If the results are any indication, one person in ten regularly interrupts their sleep in order to check e-mail. But it's only a bit scary, because I know what my responsibilities have driven me to in the past.
A few years ago, I was running a newsroom that was based on the East Coast, and I didn't have much choice but to park myself in front of e-mail when it was 6am in San Francisco; I'd often check news feeds in the middle of the night to see if there was anything popping that required my writers' attention as soon as they got into the office. I still on occasion check e-mail in the wee hours of the morning, but unlike 45 percent of the respondents to the iPass survey, I don't have a device in my bedroom or within arm's reach of wherever I'm sleeping - unless, of course, I've dozed off on the couch.
As with most people, my sleeping patterns change over time. I learned a long time ago that it was pointless to toss and turn in a futile search for somnolence; when I wake up at 2am, 3, or another ungodly hour, and I can't get back to sleep in 30 minutes or so, I'll go up to the front of the house and look at the web or at e-mail until I feel sleepy again.
So maybe this isn't as troubling as it looks, but still, people: get a grip, and a good night's sleep.