How would you describe one who works hard with full interest and consciousness, including spending sleepless nights. In such a scenario, sleep is deprived deliberately by the person. What is such hard work called where sleep is not given priority, and days and nights are devoted to work. Words like workaholics don't implicitly speak of sleepless nights.

Many programmers, writers and solution providers do it. I am looking for one word for such efforts.

  • Is this actually a meaningful concept? Someone who deliberately misses sleep is not providing peak performance at work (though he may think he is) and so cannot really be said to be giving 'full interest and consciousness'. Jul 19, 2014 at 22:27

4 Answers 4


One expression for the activity is "to burn the candle at both ends," meaning that not only are you expending energy at one end of the day, but at the other as well, leaving precious little time for sleep.

OED cites a particularly metaphorical meaning of profligacy with money, rather than effort. It's interesting that the current usage, while still metaphorically treating the day as a candle, has retreated to a slightly more literal meaning of providing light for an excessive amount of work.

to light or burn the candle at both ends : to consume or waste in two directions at once.

1736 N. Bailey et al. Dict. Britannicum (ed. 2) (at candle), The Candle burns at both Ends. Said when Husband and Wife are both Spendthrifts.


I'm fairly sure you won't get closer than workaholic:


noun (informal)

a person who compulsively works hard and long hours.


(AHD does not have the 'informal' tag)


I think "(work) frenzy" fits your description the best, specifically in the definition of "a bout of wild or agitated activity [eg]: a frenzy of preparations", which implies the sleepless nights. A sentence describing the situation could be "The employees were in a frenzy these past few days trying to make the deadline". Another way to put it would be "The employees were in a sleep-deprived rush to make the deadline".

Yet another way to describe the situation would be to use the idiom "burning the midnight oil" to mean "to stay up working, especially studying, late at night." Hence, the sentence could be "The employees were burning the midnight oil these past few days to make the deadline".


You might say such a person works "tirelessly".

not yielding to fatigue

Source: The Free Dictionary

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