You want to succeed in life? Start in the bedroom...
Dec 17, 2016
Everyone wants to succeed and be better in their life. They want to have better health and wellbeing, do better at their jobs, have better relationships and go about their days with a feeling of mental clarity, focus, and growth. To that end, they purchase and pursue all manner of solutions and promises. Billions of dollars and thousands upon thousands of products, pills and programs change hands in the pursuit of that success. Everyone is looking for the one crucial catalyst, the ‘limitless pill’ that will accelerate their capabilities and launch them faster down the road of achievement. Ironically, one of the best systems around for improving quality of life is overlooked by many people every day, or night, more specifically. That crucial catalyst is sleep.
Now it is easy to recognize that sleep is necessary for life. Correspondingly, when you are not getting the right quality and quantity of sleep you need, you are putting that life (your life) at a disadvantage. It’s like starting your daily race for success 100 yards back from the starting line.
To put that in perspective, pretend for a moment that you just contracted a disorder with the following symptoms:
1. Impaired reasoning
2. Poor problem-solving
3. Decreased attention to detail
4. Increased feelings of depression and/or anxiety
5. Increased dependence on sugar and/or caffeine for energy
But that’s not all, you also get ‘bonus’ physical impacts due to mental limitation. This ‘disorder’ you’ve contracted also places the body in a state of constant catch-up, which weakens healthy decision-making, increases dependence on unhealthy habits, and supports a more sedentary lifestyle, which can easily lead to things like heart disease, diabetes, depression, stroke, and heart attack.
I don’t know about you, but if I suddenly came down with those symptoms, I would be headed immediately to my favorite healthcare provider to get fixed ASAP. Forget about optimizing success, I need to make sure I’m going to live to see another day!
The sad part is, that list of symptoms is found all too often in the day-to-day experience of individuals in our offices, homes and schools. In the quest to succeed and do better people don’t need some specialized knowledge or tool to give them an advantage in life, they just need to recognize that they are tired of being tired. We need to stop accepting that being sleep-disadvantaged is just part of our “go-go-always-on” society.
Now for the good news. The ‘cure’ for the disorder is free and available to everyone without a prescription. All you need to do is get enough sleep (you probably saw that one coming). So how much is ‘enough’? Well, according to the National Sleep Foundation, 7-9 hours a night for anyone over the age of 18 should do the trick. The key is getting that amount of sleep regularly and without major disruptions. And once you start a regular pattern of getting enough sleep (and I’m only talking like 3 days in a row here people) you can easily start seeing improvements in removing the barriers that were holding you back. Gosh forbid you actually begin at the starting line instead of 100 yards behind. And I have even better news for you: Not only do you get to eliminate the disadvantages we covered above, but here is where the advantages really kick in.
By following a prescription of quality sleep you will be provide with the following advantages:
1. Greater memory retention.
2. Improved mood.
3. Improved learning and cognition.
4. Decreased dependency on caffeine or other unhealthy diet choices for energy.
5. Better mental health (reduction in depression and/or anxiety)
Kinda sounds like the sort of things that could improves your chances of success and make your life a better place to be if you ask me.
Overall, the advantages of getting enough sleep regularly, without major disruptions for significant lengths of time, are incredible. But getting that sleep on a regular basis can be hard for some of us (how’s that for a radical understatement?). I get it, we live in a world in which our time is increasingly not enough, and we are spread thin. Knowing that, we need to have every advantage at our disposal when we bring effort to our tasks. I ultimately see this as a function of life strategy, focus and prioritization.
Consider the following 2 options:
1. Would you rather sleep less and have less effective awake hours a day disadvantaged with impaired cognition, poor problem-solving, lessened attention to detail, increased feelings anxiety and depression, and increased dependency on unhealthy diet choices for energy?
2. Would you rather sleep more and have more effective awake hours with each of them being advantaged by improved learning and cognition, improved mood, greater memory retention, better mental health and a decreased dependency on things like caffeine or other unhealthy diet choices for energy?
One of those is a bit more ‘limitless’ if you ask me. :)
So I will leave you with a question: When is the last time you got a good night’s sleep?
(2006). 3, Extent and Health Consequences of Chronic Sleep Loss and Sleep Disorders. Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Sleep Medicine and Research. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK19961/
Dumay, N. & Gaskell, M.G. (Jan. 2007). Sleep-Associated Changes in the Mental Representation of Spoken Words. Psychological Science, 18(1), 35-39.
Grohol, J.M. (Oct. 26, 2009). Why 'Sleeping on It' Helps. Live Science. Retrieved from http://www.livescience.com/5820-sleeping-helps.html
Radding, B. (N. Date). Lack of Sleep May Trigger Anxiety. Men’s Fitness. Retrieved from http://www.mensfitness.com/nutrition/lack-sleep-may-trigger-anxiety
Roehrs, T. & Roth, T. (2008). Caffeine: Sleep and daytime sleepiness. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 12, 153-162.
National Sleep Foundation (N. Date). Recommended Sleep (infographic). Retrieved from: https://sleepfoundation.org/sites/default/files/SleepTimeRecommendations012615%5B1%5D-page-001_0.jpg
Jason is a technologist, consultant, and organizational leader with over 30 years of experience. For the last 20 years, Jason has focused primarily on strategic architecture, privacy, and information security. As a leader and subject matter expert, he has authored numerous papers and articles and is a frequent speaker on these subjects. Jason’s expertise lies in his ability to synthesize the complex nature of technology, strategy, and information security into simple and understandable building blocks. Known for his energetic, focused and light-hearted style, Jason’s personal and professional philosophy is one of openness, empowerment and purpose driven action. Be present. Get a plan. Make it happen.