Sleep & Productivity

Sleep & Productivity

Conventional wisdom says you need seven to eight hours of sleep per night to feel fully rested.

While I think this is a good place to start, it’s like saying working eight hours per day will make you wealthy. If you have a job, freelancing contracts, or a business lined up, you will make an income working eight hours per day. But the mere act of working a certain number of hours does not guarantee wealth. If it did, we would all be wealthy.

Similarly, sleeping a certain number of hours per night does not guarantee health and optimum performance. If it did, we would all be healthy.

Exploding Topics says, on a global scale, people are spending an average of nearly seven hours at a screen per day.

Let’s keep in mind – this is separate from work. Seven hours per day are spent streaming TV, playing video games, or surfing social media.

If you can afford to be entertained seven hours per day, then you may only need seven to eight hours of sleep per night. It’s a different story entirely if you’re reading this article. You don’t spend seven hours per day on entertainment. You may have, at most, one to three hours at the end of the day to spend as you please.

This may sound controversial, but I am only repeating what was a known quantity to motivational speaker and author Earl Nightingale and marketing expert Dan Kennedy. 95% of people are clueless in almost every facet of life, most of all when it comes to money.

This context is crucial when examining something as broadly applicable as productivity, and in this case, sleep. If you do what everyone else is doing, you will get the same results they got. This can be a rather harrowing realization if you find yourself following the clueless. It’s like the blind leading the blind.

There’s a saying that’s often repeated in network marketing business circles, and that is “98% of people will be dead or broke by 65.” As it turns out, there is plenty of evidence to support this claim.

If you want different results, you must take different actions.

Does this mean we should sleep less? One of my personal heroes, Gene Simmons, says he despises sleep. Co-founder of Quest Nutrition and Impact Theory Tom Bilyeu says he works 18 hours per day. Everywhere we turn, we can find examples of entrepreneurs and marketers boasting about their around the clock hustle. Gary Vaynerchuk. Grant Cardone. Dan Peña.

Maybe it really does work for them. But for most people, adopting the habits of the exceptional would be akin to buying a one-way, express ticket to the hospital.

The effects of sleep deficiency and depravation are well known. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute says a lack of sleep can lead to:

  • Depression.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Diabetes.
  • Obesity.
  • Heart disease.
  • Kidney disease.
  • Stroke.
  • And more.

You do not perform at your best when you aren’t sleeping enough. You will find it harder to think clearly or react quickly. Your mood will be impacted, and you may find yourself more irritable as well.

To be more productive, you must prioritize sleep. Generally, you need more sleep than you think you do. Your level of performance and happiness will be affected greatly by your sleep schedule.

Just like me, you may have heard people say:

“Feeling tired after 10 hours of sleep? You must be sleeping too much.”

Ridiculous. You needed that 10-hour binge, and you probably need several more nights if not several more weeks of the same, especially if you’re still feeling tired.

health.gov says getting enough sleep can help you:

  • Stay at a healthy weight.
  • Get sick less often.
  • Reduce stress and improve your mood.
  • Get along better with people.
  • Make better decisions (including avoiding car accidents).
  • Lower your risk for serious health problems (like diabetes and heart disease).

Sleep is restorative. It’s healing. It’s what keeps you healthy and young.

Importantly, sleep is the top difference maker in productivity. Prioritize sleep, allocate more time to sleep, practice better sleep hygiene, and you will see your performance transform. Everything you layer on top in terms of productivity practices will work with greater efficacy when you’re getting sufficient sleep.

Conversely, if you do not prioritize sleep, you will see your performance suffer.

I can’t tell you how much to sleep. You must listen to your own body. Use seven to eight hours as a starting point. If you don’t feel fully rested, try sleeping for longer. Set yourself up for success by sleeping in a dark, quiet, cool room and try sleep masks, earplugs, fans (white noise), meditation apps, and natural supplements like Somno-Pro as well. But don’t overcomplicate it.

Disclaimer: This post does not constitute health advice.

There’s more available in the Productivity, Performance & Profits Blackbook.

Hard Work & Great Attitude as a Model for Success is Categorically Flawed

Hard Work & Great Attitude as a Model for Success is Categorically Flawed

Read enough “success” books and you will be left with the impression that keeping a positive attitude and working hard for long hours is the definitive recipe for getting everything you want in business and life.

Winning Through Intimidation author Robert Ringer, though, points out that both “qualifications” are entirely arbitrary.

What is a positive attitude? Does repeating affirmations into the mirror every morning make you a more positive person? Isn’t “positivity” ultimately in the eyes and ears of another? How do you quantify your own positivity? What happens when you don’t feel like being positive, or circumstances dictate otherwise?

What does “working hard for long hours” look like? What one considers long and hard might appear a vacation for another, and vice versa. I know that Tom Bilyeu of Quest Nutrition claims to work 18-hour days, but even that will appear a vacation to some, outlandish and draconian to others. There’s no benchmark, standard, or target to hit.

You can see how conventional success philosophy starts to fall apart when you tug on the string of the already unraveling sweater. It doesn’t take much to get a sneak preview of what’s underneath.

So, what do we get when we discard conventional wisdom? Is it worth dismantling the notion that a positive attitude and a work ethic will get you everywhere? What do you get in return?

Ringer says he doesn’t expect most deals to go through. To the contrary, he expects most deals to not go through.

Personally, I’m recognizing that I have bought into the “positive attitude and hard work” philosophy as much as anyone else. And the only thing consistent about it is that I live fast and add one to my age each year.

Ringer has a term for this – he calls it the “Uncle George Theory.” You work hard, and in exchange, you sacrifice your life. We all know someone who has worked hard their entire life (i.e., Uncle George), and still hasn’t gotten the rainbows, unicorns, and endless stores of gold they were promised.

I have accomplished a great deal, and I’m not going to step over any of it, but in the grand scheme of things it has mostly been in the realm of desire adjacent.

When what you really want is X, but you end up with Y, even though Y is close to X (closer than B to X), it’s not the same thing, and that keeps you in perpetual motion for X. It’s literally the difference between a Rolex and an Aventino. They’re both watches, and they’re both great, but one is a luxury brand, and the other a mid-tier. You’re grateful for Y, and you appreciate it, but what you’re really wanting is X, and you continue to work hard for the day you can have it.

Like Ringer, I’m embracing the philosophy that most deals won’t go through. Most things won’t work. That sets me up for the right mindset. I don’t expect any one thing to work out. Instead, I look for the many paths to accomplishment, and execute in urgent concurrency, fully expecting that most things won’t work, and surprised when they do.

The deferred life is unsatisfying. I won’t one day wake up to be exactly where I want to be. I intend to go and get the good things as soon as possible – now. No more waiting. I am creating a list of items to acquire and debts to settle, and I’m putting it all in order of priority and viability. And I will act on the plan.

Living as if life is a dress rehearsal is overrated and boring. What’s the point in getting safely to your grave? Step out of your equally arbitrary “comfort zone,” and take a chance on yourself. Never wait for permission. Choose yourself.