Sleep: Protect the asset

Published on Oct 4, 2020

This is my ongoing series with notes as I explore the concept of Essentialism.

Introduction to Essentialism

The power of choice

The unimportance of practically everything

Trade-offs: Which problem do I want?

The perks of being unavailable

See what really matters

Play: Embrace the wisdom of your inner child

What a delightful surprise to discover a chapter in the Essentialism book on the topic of sleep.

The best asset we have for making a contribution to the world is ourselves. If we underinvest in ourselves through our minds, bodies, and spirits, we damage the very tool we need to make our highest contribution. One of the most common ways people--especially ambitious, successful people--damage this asset is through a lack of sleep.

Think about last week. Have you slept less than seven hours on any of those nights? Have you slept less than seven hours for a few nights in a row? Have you ever thought, "Not me. I don't need a full eight hours. I can survive on four or five hours of sleep." Yes is a small minority of people who have a genetic trait that allows them to get by with less sleep. The odds say you are not one of those people. What is more likely is that you are so used to be tired that you have forgotten what it feels like to be fully rested. 

The way of the nonessentialist is to see sleep as yet another burden on one's already overextended, overcommitted, busy-but-not-always-productive life. Essentialists instead see sleep as necessary for operating at high levels of contribution.

According to Charles A. Czeisler, the Baldino Professor of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, pulling an all-nighter or having a week of sleeping just four or five hours a night actually "induces an impairment equivalent to a blood alcohol level of 0.1%." 



One hour less of sleep equals one more hour of productivity.

Sleep is for failures.

Sleep is a luxury.

Sleep breeds laziness.

Sleep gets in the way of "doing it all."



One hour more of sleep equals several more hours of much higher productivity.

Sleep is for high performers.

Sleep is a priority.

Sleep breeds creativity.

Sleep enables the highest levels of mental contribution.

Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn. --Mahatma Gandhi