Posted in Freedom Friday

Sleep

Sleep is the single most important activity anyone can do in their lifetime to increase productivity. Take it from me, a former insomniac who a couple of years ago averaged two hours sleep a night. You want to get more done? Sleep more.

Sleeping Angel
Sleeping Angel

Sounds counterproductive, counterintuitive and counter everything, doesn’t it? But when have my Freedom Friday posts been anything but?

I read somewhere, I won’t mention where, “an expert”, I’m assuming a time management expert, had condoned the practice of shortening a person’s sleep cycle by half-an-hour a day to gain 3.5 hours of productivity a week.

I laughed.

You know what, folks. Try it. After two weeks, tell me how much productivity you’ve gained. I guarantee after a few days you will feel the effects of exhaustion set in. Oh, it’ll seem like you’re getting a lot done. Whatever you may have had on that To-Do list seems to have disappeared.

Look closer.

Does the quality meet previous high standards? Do your accomplishments look like an idiomatic whitewashed wall? How’s the attitude? And since we’re on the subject, how’s your health?

You see, when “experts” prescribe cutting sleep in order to accomplish more, they’re actually prescribing cutting your life by a matter of years. Think of it this way. Let’s say you have a regular 7-hour sleep cycle. You decide to cut it down to 6.5 hours. Well, that’s 3.5 hours of extra time a week, which translates to 182 hours of extra productivity a year. If we look at it in terms of days, that’s 7.5 days. Yeah, a week and a bit of working harder. Over the course of 52 years, you will burn well over a full year of sleep for that extra half-hour of diligence.

What’s the reality?

Constant Puyo- Eingeschlafen, 1897
Constant Puyo- Eingeschlafen, 1897

I had mentioned about my insomnia. Two hours sleep every night is not an exaggeration. You can read about it in my Insomnia post. Missing so much sleep did something to me. The days blended in with one another. Noises and voices sounded louder. I began seeing things. I became paranoid. You get that way when you trick the body into believing that extra half-hour a day awake will make you more productive. Because you can’t stop at half-an-hour a day. You want to push it to an hour, an hour-and-a-half, two hours. Eventually, your body’s Circadian Rhythm crumbles. Mine finally surrendered last year, forcing me to reevaluate everything I was doing.

Nowadays, I wake up at 5 every morning after a solid 7 hours sleep. I know what you’re thinking: “That means you go to bed at 10 every night, Jack.” Yep. Well, 9:30, to be exact. By the time I settle in, it’s 10. And I know what your other question is: “Where do you find the time to do everything?” Here’s my answer: It’s not about the time given, but about the time spent. One hour of solid creativity is better than five hours of stop-and-start spurts. Time is finite in a 24-hour day. You cannot extract 25 hours from a 24-hour day. But you can optimize 24 hours by maximizing energy levels and creativity.

The thing these experts don’t talk about is the fact that sleep restores a person. Think of it as a nightly vacation. What does a vacation do? It restores a person’s perspective on life. You can get a lot more done. In fact, studies suggest sleep improves memory, contributes to a longer lifespan, controls inflammation, increases creativity, boosts athletic performance, encourages academic excellence, amplifies attention span, aids in maintaining a healthy body weight, decreases stress, assists in avoiding accidents, and helps with evading depression.

What’s my point?

Don’t listen to experts who think they know everything. Remember: An ex-spurt is nothing more than former drip under pressure.

Sleep. Enjoy your sleep. Your body will reward you with productivity you wish you had had when you cut back on the precious commodity.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale October 22.

Have you ever heard of cutting back on sleep to get more done? Have you ever heard of the benefits of sleep?

Author:

Jack Flacco is an author and the founder of Looking to God Ministries, an organization dedicated to spreading the Word of God through outreach programs, literature and preaching.

16 thoughts on “Sleep

  1. Hi again Jack, Thanks so much for responding. I have been incorporating some of your suggestions already, including staying away from computer screens, kindle, TV…close to when I want to get to sleep. I do have a light snack at night, but nothing heavy. But if I don’t eat something, I definitely don’t sleep. 😦

    I’m looking forward to your new post on this topic! 🙂 Happy ZZZZ…..

  2. I came back to read this post today Jack. Ok, you’ve convinced me. I sleep well, only about 3-4 nights a week right now, otherwise I’m up on the computer or reading my kindle in the middle of the night. Can you share a few of your tips how you turned your own insomnia around? Maybe I missed this info. somewhere in a previous link? If you have time, stop by:

    http://www.mypoeticpath.wordpress.com

    and enlighten me! Thanks in advance. 🙂

    PS: I’m guessing others would want to here some of your suggestions too.

  3. I have been suffering with Insomnia for most of my life, but the past year or so it has gotten worse. I don’t even sleep at night anymore. I’m lucky enough to be able to take a nap for 2-3 hours during the day, but I feel like this is destroying me.When I do fall asleep early, I wake up with a bit of a start after about an hour. That’s it then, I’m up till dawn 😦 I have read about cutting back on sleep – That 6 hours is ideal, but I think anything less than 7 or 8 hours isn’t good. I would kill for 6 hours though! Actually, I would kill for 4 which was the norm about 2 years ago.

  4. Take note – if I am ever privy to important national security secrets, all you have to do to get me to blab is deprive me of sleep. Just one bad night oughtta do it.

    One of my favorite novels is Charlie Huston’s Sleepless, which inspired me to follow up on his source material: there’s an actual, real, and frankly terrifying prion disease called Fatal Familial Insomnia (FFI).

    Here’s wikipedia’s description of FFI:
    “FFI has no known cure and involves progressively worsening insomnia, which leads to hallucinations, delirium, and confusional states like that of dementia. The average survival span for patients diagnosed with FFI after the onset of symptoms is 18 months.”

    It’s the stuff of nightmares!

    A non-fiction book called The Family That Couldn’t Sleep traces the discovery and story behind the disease. Totally recommend it.

  5. I agree, completely, about the need for sleep. Especially as we age. Establishing times and places for rest on every level is important, but our frantic paced world pushes us to believe otherwise. Great post! Thanks for following my blog, Jack!

  6. for 3 times, i awake in the middle of night, but comes to concious late which means i realize the fact that i’m awake kinda late. No one can help me at yahoo answers

  7. Great post. Yes, I have heard of experts who openly suggest to cut back sleep – some have even suggested it to me. In the past listened and it never really worked. I agree with you – it feels like you do a lot at first, but the lack of sleep eventually begins to get a hold of you. I deliberately started this because when I was 15 I began to have insomnia, which was a direct result of my depression.
    I understand why you go to bed so early sir, however I personally could never do that – if I were to go to bed at 9:30, I would be awake for at least three, maybe four hours just twiddling my thumbs – I go to bed between 1 and 2, and then I sometimes lay awake for maybe an hour before I drop off. I feel that although those experts have it wrong, if I can tire myself out more, I can eventually nod off and wake at between 6 and 7. In my opinion, 4 hours sleep is better than 2.
    Again, great post.

  8. I can totally relate to your 2 hour sleep sessions. I have times of the year (mostly in the summer) where I have insomnia. But my solution has finally been “don’t fight it” don’t toss and turn…I get up, do something productive and calming for a while and go back to bed when I’m actually really tired. I think a few hours of solid sleep is definitely better than the fitful kind where you aren’t really sleeping.

    great post Jack and an important topic for all of us. 🙂

  9. Couldn’t agree more Jack – it’s all about life balance. I used to rush to work, desperate to cut my 1.5-2 hour commute by a few minutes. One day I saw a brightly coloured sports car rush past me on the motorway; I was in the ‘slow’ lane with the lorries. Five junctions later, even with his hard push to make progress he was still only about 1/4 of a mile ahead. I bet my blood pressure was better than his!
    My point is that whenever you hear someone say you can gain a slim time benefit by doing this, that or the other, my question is ‘what can you actually do with those five or ten minutes?’ Bugger all I suspect but you won’t feel as good as if you have taken your time at the task and been steady. Ignore consultants, they’ll ask to see your watch if you ask them the time and charge you for the pleasure.

    More haste, less speed!

    Nice one Jack, have a lovely weekend
    David

  10. I’m not in favor of cutting back on sleep to get more done. I NEED my 8 hours of sleep a night or I’m not very productive. I can’t function on anything less than 7. I would prefer to get 10 or 12 hours but that’s not realistic, especially during the week. but on the weekends? you bet! ~Gina

  11. Well said. My problem is the kids wake up. I’m on a crazy cycle of getting enough hours but not a solid regular stretch. It’s gettung much better. I am so grateful to have this phone to catch up anywhere.

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