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.”
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.