Why Pulling All-Nighters For The U.N. Climate Agreement Is A Bad Idea

Christiana Figueres is the United Nations’ climate change chief. As such, it’s not much of an exaggeration to say the fate of humanity rests on her shoulders. Figueres is overseeing the current efforts in Paris to create ambitious yet realistic legally binding guidelines for carbon reductions, with the aim of reining in climate change before its effects become truly devastating.

In short, Figueres is a person with a lot on her mind. So when she talks about the importance of getting enough sleep, it’s probably worth paying attention.

Like college kids cramming for a final exam, the Paris negotiators are reportedly pulling all-nighters to finalize the climate agreement. The stakes are high, as the talks have been described as the last chance to avert runaway climate change before it’s too late.

While the delegates have spend two weeks crafting a broad skeleton of the deal, a lot of the nitty-gritty details have been left until the eleventh hour — as is usually the case.

“United Nations negotiators are notorious for leaving everything to the last minute,” Coral Davenport wrote for The New York Times last month. “Once the climate talks go into overtime, they do not stop. The diplomats keep negotiating through the night, the morning, the next day, the next night, the next morning until they finish or concede failure.”

This is a little disconcerting. No matter how capable the negotiators are or how high their stamina, they’re still human beings who require sleep in order to function.

As science unequivocally shows, sleep deprivation can seriously mess with our ability to stay focused, make decisions, think clearly and remain emotionally even-keeled.

“Looking at sleep deprivation, we know that it can cause deficits in cognition as well as frustration,” Dr. Michael Breus, —> Read More