1. In today's society, we no longer sleep and wake according to the sun's cycle. Many of us work indoors, exposed to fluorescent lights during the day, and at night we watch bright TV and look at screens from a computer or mobile device. The result is an epidemic of poor sleep and sleep disorders.
2. Lack of sleep is associated with increased rates of obesity, heart attacks, strokes, cancer, depression, and anxiety.
3. The good news is there are many tricks you can use to optimize your sleep, wellbeing, and performance. We're going to explore these concepts in this module.
“Pulling all-nighters isn't a badge of honor. It's the enemy of intelligence, patience, and creativity.” - Jason Fried, Founder of Basecamp.
For most of history, humans have woken up and gone to sleep based on the sun’s cycle. But our current situation is much different. Many of us work indoors, exposed to fluorescent lights during the day. In the evenings, we watch bright TV and look at computer, tablet or mobile phone screens.
Our internal physiology is no longer matched to the rhythm of the sun. As a result, we’re not sleeping enough and our health and performance are suffering. According to the National Sleep Foundation, we sleep 20% less than we used to a century ago. Seventy million Americans have a diagnosed sleep disorder. In Canada, one in seven people suffer from insomnia. That’s bad.
How bad? Along with sleeplessness comes increased rates of obesity, heart attacks, strokes, cancer, depression and anxiety. Lack of good sleep is so damaging that it actually shortens your life. An epidemiological study of over one million Americans reported that sleep duration below 6 hours per night was associated with increased mortality.
Here’s a quick story to illustrate how our culture perpetuates this problem.
Just seconds after its launch in January of 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded, killing all seven crew members. Some of the managers involved in the launch had only slept for two hours before arriving for work at 1 a.m. In the Presidential Commission on the accident, investigators wrote, “The willingness of NASA employees in general to work excessive hours, while admirable, raises serious questions when it jeopardizes job performance, particularly when critical management decisions are at stake.”
Yes, the Challenger tragedy was partly the result of sleeplessness. But I want to focus on the part of the Commission that describes the willingness to work excessive hours as admirable. This same attitude exists in the general workplace today. We receive the messaging that we are better people if we put in longer hours.
But working yourself into a stupor is not admirable. And volume of work does not lead to excellence. You cannot perform at world-class levels if you’re staring blankly into a screen trying to comprehend words that you could breeze through in a few seconds if you took the time to build a consistent, rejuvenating sleep pattern and routine.
So that’s our topic for this module: getting the sleep you need to live a high-performance life. Together, we’re going to fight back and reclaim sleep. Once you are sleeping like a champion, pretty much everything in your life will get better.
Today's POWER-UP: The Transition Ritual
I’d like you to create a transition ritual and use it to help you make the shift from working to being at home. Find an activity that helps you to make that shift.
For me, it’s walking down to the park near my house and relaxing on a bench for five minutes before walking home. Take a few minutes to walk, listen to music, or make a call to a friend on the way home.
The key is to make sure that when you arrive home, you’re not still at work.