Posted in Freedom Friday, Other Things

How to Sleep Well

Toss. Turn. Fluff the pillow. Covers. No covers. I’ve been there. Getting a good night’s sleep had been a goal of mine for a long time. It took me a long time to understand what a good night’s sleep involved. Once I found the secret—because really, that is what it is, a secret—I now gorge on the ZZZ’s.

Sleeping well
Sleeping well

For today’s Freedom Friday post, I’m going to talk about the most important productivity booster you will ever know—sleep.

It wasn’t too long ago when I suffered from insomnia. I have posts dedicated to the subject and my stories are legendary. For instance, there was a point four years ago that I was getting two hours of sleep a night. You may ask how on earth I could have functioned on so little sleep. It wasn’t easy. The condition had lasted for years culminating in the worst year of my life. I’d fallen ill three times that year, one major blow after another. This is from a guy who hadn’t gotten sick since 2005. Flus, fevers, coughs, colds—you name it, I had it.

The bright side to that year was finding a rhythm that worked for me, but not after many attempts and a few failures along the way.

This is how I do it.

Say Good Night—Interesting how the simple act of a goodnight kiss will prep the body to begin shutting down. For me, as soon as I begin my goodnight tour, my eyes begin to drift, my muscles relax and I find that I’m dragging my limbs upstairs instead of walking. This is all very well and fine, because it’s the body’s way of telling me it’s ready to hit the sack. And it all starts with saying goodnight.

Prepare the Sleeping Area—My ritual entails stripping the bed and making it over again, even if it’s done. Yes, I admit it is strange. But it’s my thing. It’s another step toward solid sleep. I remove the wrinkles. Tighten the sheets. Fluff the pillows and create a fold. I know, and I agree that it’s obsessive compulsive. You know what, though? Every time I get under the sheets, it feels great knowing I’ve made the bed minutes earlier. Call me strange.

Wash and Get Dressed—Hygiene is very important for a sound, restful sleep. Every night I brush my teeth, wash my face, comb my hair and go pee—and wash my hands again, of course. Then I slip into my PJs made of 100% cotton. The material is important because I find 100% cotton allows my skin to breathe. Try sleeping with polyester on your skin. Not a fun night Charlie Brown.

Downtime—Once I’ve taken care of the prerequisites, I’ll turn off all the lights except for the one on my nightstand. I’ll dim that one to its lowest setting. Next, I’ll pray, listen to music, read, perhaps play a game or two and slowly allow my eyes to close. Sometimes I won’t even have the chance to do anything. I’ll simply be ready for bed. The downtime provides my body to ease into its sleep cycle. It’s not about the activity, but about allowing your body to shut down naturally. For a long time I didn’t do this and found myself wide awake at two in the morning.

In Bed—Once I’ve completed the Twenty-Mile Marathon, I put everything away, tuck myself under the sheets and turn off the light. Seriously, within seconds I fall asleep and wake up every morning feeling refreshed and invigorated. The trick while sleeping is to never look at the clock. Eventually, the alarm will go off and you’ll bounce out of bed with all the energy you need to tackle the day’s events.

That’s all there is to it. Now you know me a little more than you had a few minutes ago.

Last piece of advise, if you’re looking to get a good night’s sleep: find your rhythm. It’ll take a while, but once you find it, your body will be happy you did.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale now.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale now.

Have you suffered from insomnia? What was your cure?

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?