SportsLizard Entrepreneur Blog

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Sleep - my productivity killer

I think I'm a pretty productive guy. If you ask people I know I'm pretty sure they'd say I'm generally on top of things. But I'm always looking for ways to cram more life into my day. Every entrepreneur should understand the importance of a healthy diet, regular exercise, and a good nights sleep - falling short in any of those areas will prohibit you from being at your mental and physical best.

Working out is like crack to me so I've got the diet/exercise thing down pretty good, but I can never seem to wrap my hands around the sleep thing. This is nothing new - I've written about it a lot in the past - but it's definitely my vice. My sleep patterns since I was a little kid have always fallen into one of the these three categories:
  • The drag and makeup - this is the one most high school kids and working professionals I know are on. It's where you sleep like 5 hours/night during the week and then 12/day on the weekends. Basically you are tired as shit for 5 out of 7 days...not exactly at your peak.
  • The creep - this is the one I'd been suffering from primarily since I started working for myself and haven't had a set time I NEEDED to be up every day. You wake up at 8 AM Monday morning and then you stay up late Monday night. So you get up at 9 AM on Tuesday. You aren't tired Tuesday night, so you go to bed at 2 and wake up at 10:30 on Wednesday. By Friday it's a big deal to wake up before 11 and you totally feel like a loser...even if you've been getting your work done late at night.
  • The reversal - this is the one I was on all through college, and for a while when I was going to the gym MWF @ 8 AM. It happens when you need to be up early (say for a class) several days a week, but don't have to get up for anything the rest of the week. In this case, you stay up until 2 AM every night, but one day you wake up at 8 AM and the next noon. You sleep 6-10-6-10-6 instead of 8 every night....in theory it should work, but it sucks.
The past few days I've been using Steve Pavlina's theory about the best way to sleep. He claims most attempts fail because people either try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every night (problem being your body needs varied rest) or because they just "listen to their body" and end up doing the creep and oversleeping.

I estimate I'd been spending 9-11 hours in bed each night...probably only sleeping 8 or so, but doing a lot of tossing and turning on both ends. I'd wake up late and feel behind the 8-ball and rush through my workouts. This week I've been going to bed whenever I'm tired and getting up at 6AM everyday and it's awesome. I feel MORE rested from LESS sleep, and I feel like I've finally figured out something that's plagued me for years. It'll be interesting to see how long I can stick with it.

PS. To force myself up I placed the alarm clock about 15 feet away from my bed and turned it ALL the way up so that I have to get up and sprint to end the horrible sound every AM....that'll wake me up no matter how tired I am.

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