Sleep is a basic need that is overlooked. In a “rise and grind,” ableist culture, there’s a lot of pressure to always be busy. Being tired, constantly overworked, and always be running from one thing to the next are viewed as points of pride.

Sleep and rest are an important part of self care and in my opinion, highly underrated. Studies have shown that people function better, are more productive, happier and emotionally more balanced when they are rested.

Yet we live in a culture that celebrates working yourself to the point of exhaustion. Personally, I blame capitalism. If corporation weren’t focused on maximizing profits through human capital, our societal mind set would be in a very different place.

“no offense but when will the rise and grind mentality of DEMONIZING fun and free time finally die”


Don’t believe me? Here are some signs you’ve internalized capitalism:

“You determine your worth based on your productivity
You feel guilty for resting
Your primary concern is to make yourself profitable
You neglect your health
You think “hard work” is what brings happiness”

We’ve gotten to a place where we’ve commodified our own existence. This has led us to feelings of guilt around basic human needs like connection, sleep and relaxation.

It’s capitalism that should be serving us, not the other way around.
You deserve to rest when you are tired. And to have time off. Not to mention you deserve a work life balance.

Yet we feel as though we have to ‘earn’ these things. We don’t. We’re entitled to them.

“Another big problem I have with modern meal replacement shakes is how it’s marketed to be a part of this nonsense millennial rise-and-grind capitalism”


When you add our ableist society to that blend, I imagine this pressure is unique and often overwhelming for people with disabilities.

On the surface, people depriving themselves of sleep and rest might seem like a personal choice. To a degree it is. However, we would be amiss to say peer and cultural pressures aren’t external factors of influence.

There are many people who need sleep and rest in order to simply function. And others who, even when rested, will not feel that way.

This rise and grind culture neglects to consider people with disabilities. It is yet another way in which we work to exclude and create a less accessible world. 

When we shame people for needing rest, or pressure them not to take it, what message is that really sending? What are we saying with our expectation that people can (and should) perform on little to no sleep?

“serf: i hate that i work my entire life and half to give a third of my work to a lord i’ve never met
rise and grind twitter: that sounds like a personal problem don’t be a victim”

Spoon theory 

Spoon theory was developed by a woman frustrated with explaining how she felt to able bodied people with strong mental health. Christine Miserandino was sitting in a restaurant with a friend who asked what it felt like to live with a disability.

This friend could not understand why some days were more tiring than others regardless of the activity. Nor could she understand why some days her friend with a disability started the day tired even when she had gotten enough hours of sleep the night before.

Struggling to explain her experience in a way her friend would understand, Christine thought for a minute. Then she grabbed several spoons. She laid them out in front of her friend and told her these were hers for the day. 

Once all the spoons were used up, she was done for the day. However, everything she did required a spoon. This included emotional labour. In an ableist society, it’s easy to imagine how quickly those spoons disappear.

If the friend wanted to put on socks to get dressed, that required a spoon. If she wanted to have a difficult conversation with someone, that required another spoon. And on it went.

“Are we still telling people that spoon theory is only for disabled people or did we give up on that? I keep seeing able bodied people do it and I do not like that.”

Considering the experiences of others

Christine also pointed out to her friend that some days you start with less spoons than other days. Just because. And naturally, this required consideration for how you’ll manage the rest of your day. There goes another spoon. 

Her point was that energy is not an infinite resource for people with disabilities. When disabilities range from physical, to intellectual, to chronic diseases, to mental illness, there are many people managing their spoons carefully.

Management of spoons (energy) is something other people don’t even consider. And that’s how we end up with another form of ableism. One which we call rise and grind culture.

Where we brag about how much sleep we didn’t get. And where we push ourselves too far, depriving ourselves of a basic necessity. All in order to uphold an ableist ideology created only to better serve capitalism. 

“I have exactly 0 spoons to do anything lately (referring to #spoontheory here). Coincidentally, all of my actual spoons need to be washed because I have no spoons to do the dishes. Ya feel?”

The Next Step

It’s ok if all you did today was survive, it’s ok if all you did was sleep. Some days that’s all you can do and that’s enough.

We need to embody a culture that promotes rest and a healthy work life balance. Even more importantly, we need to critically examine our societal ableism and work to make the world more accessible for, and accepting of, everyone. 

“I wish we had a battery indicator for our bodies similar to our phones. I’d love for people to see I’m at 2% and desperately trying to get to my car or home to recharge.”