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Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep: Work-Related Sleep Deficits and the Theology of Leisure

36 Pages Posted: 31 Jul 2006  

Alison M. Sulentic

affiliation not provided to SSRN


This Article considers whether Catholic social thought can sustain public policies in favor of rest and renewal with a force comparable to the contribution it has made to other workplace rights. In particular, the Article traces the theological contributions of John Paul II and Josef Pieper. The Article provides an overview of the clinical knowledge concerning sleep deficits in relationship to current practices in scheduling shift work. Finally, the Article suggests that the right to rest is ill-protected by statutory laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act. Moreover, relying on fear of tort liability as a tool to motivate employers to adopt rest-friendly policies is a strategy fraught with too many contingencies to seem entirely reliable.

The practice of virtue, as understood in the Catholic social thought tradition, requires more of an employer than simply choosing business practices that meet minimum requirements of local law or that prove to be effective instruments to achieve a particular end. Instead, the values of Catholic social thought require employers to take a leap of faith by creating humane work schedules not because they are legal or useful but because they respect human dignity. In sum, while arguments grounded on the desire to avoid liability or to achieve efficient goals may prove persuasive, Catholic social thought supports these arguments by refocusing attention on the party on whom all work depends: the human person - someone, not something.

Keywords: Catholic social thought, John Paul II, Josef Pieper, leisure, sleep deficit, sleep deprivation, workplace policies

Suggested Citation

Sulentic, Alison M., Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep: Work-Related Sleep Deficits and the Theology of Leisure. Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics and Public Policy, Vol. 20, p. 749, 2006. Available at SSRN:

Alison Sulentic (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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