I’ve had a bit of a history of misunderstanding the importance of sleep. I remember going through this phase in university when I thought of sleep was a waste of time. Plus, there were so many other exciting things happened all at once and I used to end up not sleeping enough for a few days and then sleeping 18 hours or so to make up over the weekend.
I clearly remember the difficulty I had adjusting to a ‘normal’ routine when I started with work. The post lunch period was a particularly big problem since I was generally sleep deprived. It was around last year that I began taking sleep more seriously thanks to an article by Lifehacker on ‘How many hours of sleep do you really need?’
There’s enough research out there that sustained lack of sleep has an effect similar to alcohol on our decision making and as Arianna Huffington points out in a great article titled ‘Sleep your way to the top’
‘At the moment, the world is facing multiple crises. Many brilliant leaders with extremely high IQs have made terrible decisions, both in government and in business. What’s been missing is not IQ but wisdom—and sleep is our ticket to wisdom.’
Couldn’t agree more. I’ve been working for a long time to build the discipline of switching off and going to bed and it’s not been easy. But, the days have been vastly more productive, and I’ve felt more effective.
There’s a bit of self knowledge required here, of course to understand what your ideal sleep quota is. I know of people who can do with 5-6 hours of sleep but they are very few and far between. For most, it seems to vary between 7 and 8 hours.
Here are a few Hacks (well, sort of.. :)) that might help.
Lifehacker on Sleep: A real wealth of information.
Understanding Sleep Cycles: A bit more on the science. Some of the links within the Lifehacker set would have this covered too but this article brings it together nicely
The Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock: A tool for iPhone users to test some of your sleep learning out!
And, just for tonight, I hope you switch off your television, laptop, email and just go to sleep when it’s time.. (I hope to do that too!)