When I first started setting goals I used to pump myself listening to YouTube motivational porn like this…

Fantastic motivator to pump you up for doing something (as long as you don’t fall in the trap of consuming more videos).

Something which always peaked my curiosity was a sound bite from a motivational speaker called Eric Thomas shouting about “No sleep..”

I can’t quite remember the exact words, but trusting a quote site I believe it was:

You can’t sleep. Broke people sleep. You got to be willing to sacrifice sleep, if you sleep you may miss the opportunity to be successful.

Eric Thomas

Upon first listening I wasn’t sure how to interpret this, did Eric literally mean if you want to be your vision of your success you shouldn’t sleep at all?

I’ve read things saying business men like Donald Trump and Vince McMahon function on a limit amount of sleep and it got me thinking – is there something to it?

The experiment begins

To test this philosophy, I performed a simple experiment where I would gradually reduce the amount of sleep I was having each week.

My average amount of sleep is around eight hours, so I started waking up 30 minutes earlier and then going to bed 30 minutes later.

Using that extra hour of sacrificed sleep, I spent the time being productive.

A week later I added another 30 minutes to morning and evening, functioning on six hours sleep.

I lasted three days before I reached the point of burn out, where I could do little of anything – never mind work on my goals!

All I wanted to do was rest, relax and recover.

And when you think about it, its logical – when you try to improve on anything, you are a stretching yourself to the point of stress.

This is energy intensive and growth doesn’t occur by doing the act, but by the time you spend recovering – that is when you become stronger.

Why is sleep is important?

Saying no sleep is a great tough guy soundbite, but in reality getting optimal sleep  is important for good health and wellbeing.

How you feel when you are awake depends on the quality of your sleep, if you’ve ever had a hangover you probably realise how much impact alcohol has had on giving you good sleep (read the science here).

Sleep is downtime for your brain to recover, enabling you to learn, make decisions, problem solve and be creative.

You can start seeing why it is important and when you consider the impact sleep deprivation has on your health, with links to obesity, heart conditions and strokes, you start to realise toughing out less sleep isn’t sustainable.

No sleep = more sacrifice

When it comes down it, I interpret the no sleep mantra as a metaphor for being willing to make a sacrifice.

As an example, Are you willing to sacrifice parties to focus on your studies, resulting in good grades?

No sleep is the difference between pursuing instant gratification, against taking the long grind, taking the journey of persistence, effort, struggle to ultimately work for something greater than simple pleasures

Make more of when you are awake

Getting the right level of sleep for you is important and can’t just be dismissed by macho posturing, unless your goal is to join the SAS, where the ability to fight sleep deprivation is a requirement, for the rest of us we need it just as much as getting exercise and eating healthily for the benefit of mental health, wellbeing and ability to function.

Instead of pulling all nighters, work smarter, use your time wisely and choose your priorities carefully rather than trying to extend your waking window.

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13 thoughts on “I Took The Eric Thomas ‘No sleep’ Advice Literally, Here’s What Happened…

  1. I think this article is not taking into the real meaning of what Eric Thomas said. It’s not that your permanently have to shorten your sleep schedule, but for periods of focus, whether it’s two days or two weeks, you have to be willing to give up sleep. You don’t skip sleep because you love what you’re doing (working out, starting a business, studying for good grades, etc), it’s because you’re obsessed with what you’re doing.

    Again, for periods of time, not forever. I still love sleep and do it when I’m tired – sometimes for 10 straight hours. I discovered motivation porn (love the name by the way) about 9 years ago. I’ve applied it to my life in various facets. Financially, which is one way people measure success, I’ve gone from making $85,000 a year to making $1.2 million a year. You can achieve your dreams.

    Though as the post mentioned, don’t watch motivation porn, only to get motivated to watch more motivation porn. 🙂 Get out there and go after what you want.

    Lastly, I think the core of loving/being obsessed with what you’re doing is when you do it for others, not just for you. Do it for your family, your friends, for the world. Let’s make this a better planet and community for all of us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Fred for your comment – I see what you mean, I can relate to being so into something that I’ve not wanted to go to sleep.

      I think motivational porn has its place in small doses – watch one video to motivate you but then go work on your goal(s). When it becomes dangerous is when a person does nothing but watch these videos feeling achieved, but actually has done nothing.

      That’s a superb result with the finance, its motivating to read that people have been able to increase their earnings just by being driven to get there – congratulations!

      Going from a single man to a family man I definitely agree with your last point. Although I felt driven with my goals when I had kids it gave me a greater sense of purpose, firstly for their own security but also because I want to set an example so they can see by being focused and driven you can achieve your desires.

      Thank very much for your great comment 🙂


      1. I couldn’t agree more James about your point “When it becomes dangerous is when a person does nothing but watch these videos feeling achieved, but actually has done nothing.” I’m stealing your term “motivation porn”, I hope you don’t mind. 🙂 Unfortunately, I have family and friends who have succumb to that type of content, only to do nothing to move closer to their goals. It’s not about motivation, it’s about discipline, building habits, routine – but I don’t need to tell you that. 😀

        Congratulations on your family! I myself on the family front have a wonderful wife and son, with another child on the way this winter. I value them more than all the other successes I have been fortunate enough to receive. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ha ha no worries with the “motivational porn” I’ve heard it thrown about a lot to described those videos with sound bites and swelling music to get you psyched.

        It’s quite easy to get distracted talking about what your going to do or consuming content to get ‘motivated’ than actually do it.

        Thank you! As you mentioned discipline, habits and routine have helped me get the balance right to fit goals around work, family and life.

        Congratulations on your growing family, its challenging balancing two, but definitely worth it!


  2. I tried altering my sleep habits for other people’s schedules, but found that I got physically sick, as it lowered my immune system. My body needs its 8 hours so I’ve learned to honor that or my health suffers. Am I still productive? I work full time, I’ve written 2 books and many journals, I paint and make jewelry. Plus I’m a grandmother to three! I’m happy with my level of productivity! I’ve known a few people who get by on 4-6 hours, but I have questioned some of their choices! I think sleep deprivation has affected their decision making abilities! 😆

    Peace, Tamara

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting, your obviously functioning with a sleep pattern you are comfortable with and as a result pretty productive with the remaining time you have.

      Understand with the sleep deprivation, has a major impact on choice, personally impacts my dietary choices as I crave anything sugary to energise myself through the day!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yup me too! I prefer to work with my own abilities rather than feel pressured by others to fit into a pattern they think I should be in. I’ve had many people throughout the years try that, a few times I said “fine, let’s do it your way, let’s see what happens!” Then after a while I’d get sick, and they’d apologize and basically say I had been right, to just continue. Lesson learned. Don’t change for someone else, don’t need to prove to anyone that I know what’s best for my system. Big life lesson! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s the best way, I think some people operate on the logic what works for them will work for everyone else too, but we aren’t born with instructions saying how we will work.

        You get a lot of experience in your own skin knowing what your comfortable with, the injuries etc!

        Keep doing what you’re doing!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Does fascinate me how people function on different levels of sleep, was that a natural adjustment or a a change in habit that got you on that sleep pattern?


      1. It’s been almost three decades since I’ve gotten more than six or seven hours of sleep… I don’t even remember why I don’t sleep more. Anymore, I just can’t sleep longer than that. I’m home, no work, drawing unemployment and i still wake up at 4am.

        Liked by 1 person

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