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  • Hartley

RANT: HUSTLE CULTURE, BURNOUTS AND INSOMNIA

Updated: May 5


woman wearing a face mask, drinking from a wine bottle
via pinterest

Hustle culture lost its sex appeal to me somewhere in the English countryside. Let me explain….

I used to say that I’ve experienced burnouts in the workplace, but now I know I participated in them. I'm a perfectionist and I can be hard on myself. When an employer learned that I’d overwork and overdeliver, I'd be met with tighter deadlines and more assignments.

I once was given a month to organize, on my own, an event that had all the scale and complexity of a wedding. It was a feat I nearly didn’t pull off and a resounding success–I even installed a living forest with twinkling lights! Yet my boss, an inexperienced leader, made a point to focus on the 1% margin for improvement.

That burnout was so bad that I took “holiday” so I could run off to a cottage in the Cotswolds and lick my wounds. My attempt to restore myself turned into a week of watching The Crown and marinating in wine and tears.

It was a breaking point, a dramatic culmination of all the years of working myself to the bone. I wandered around with the sheep like a depressed shepard as the rain came down. I found myself sitting on a bench in the graveyard wondering… is this really what “alive” looks like?

And guess what always came last in these chapters of acute corporate hell? Yup, my sleep. And so the sinister cycle takes over: too stressed so I can’t sleep, can’t sleep so I’m stressed. Insomnia and anxiety are tied, period. I have a theory that my sleep issues act up when my body wants me to ‘pay attention.’ It breaks me down physically until I make different decisions to take care of my mental health. It’s a protest, plain and simple: no, I’m not going any further. Then there’s a little phenomenon called ‘bedtime revenge’: a bad habit of stealing back time from your day by staying up. A desperate attempt to get “me time.”

This is an indication we are overbooked and unhappy.

And while I own my piece in all this, I want to be clear: no job is ever worth your sanity. My therapist at the time said, “My clients are having normal reactions to abnormal ways of living.” As YouTuber Josie Naikoi says:

"Hustle culture is relentless, late stage capitalism, rebranded as good for you. It promotes long work nights and lack of sleep, but hey, at least you can show the online world what a boss you are. Hustle culture perpetuates the myth that as long as you have an unhealthy obsession for striving, paired with non-stop positivity, you too can have it all. But just like a multi-level marketing company, hustle culture only helps those at the top.”

We’re living through an epidemic of mental health and sleep disorders. And while I don’t know how to personally overthrow capitalism (hey, ideas for a revolution below), I’m trying to survive better in a system that glamorizes girl-bossing your way to exhaustion.


This has meant challenging previously held beliefs and concluding that climbing the corporate ladder and joining the "5am club" doesn’t look so sexy to me anymore.


But it's also translated to stronger boundaries, the word ‘no,’ not overscheduling myself, allowing things to be ‘good enough’ instead of perfect…and making space for activities that restore me.

I’m a big believer in an evening wind-down: “me” time that has become critical to my mental health and sleep (I’ll be kicking off a series soon to give you inspiration for your very own wind-down ritual).

Sleep issues are often a sign that you are out of alignment.


So when was the last time you checked in with yourself? And what are you doing now to practice self care and ‘take back’ your power?



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