The Zeitgeist Of Sleep: Cousin Of Death Or Secret To Success?
For a very long period of time the biggest influences, entrepreneurs and even athletes have touted that to ‘hustle’ and achieve the elusive goal of ‘success’ meant giving up sleep.
Today we still have a very large collective of people drinking from that same glass exclaiming …
‘Hey guys, I don’t sleep therefore I’m working harder than you’
To be honest. I loved this feeling and have been a member of this camp many a time. I still do in many ways. But I was never too concerned about bragging about it because most people in the education dominant city of Melbourne didn’t really understand why a 17 year old kid would want to wake up at 6AM, watch Eric Thomas’ ‘Sleep Is For Suckers’ motivation and go work on his jumpshot for an hour before school starts. But I feel in love with the high of sacrificing sleep and learning what it felt like to squeeze everything I could out of my body and mind. Once I saw athletes I looked up to like Kobe Bryant affirm this by saying he only slept 4 hours I was only all the more bought in. (And no, I didn’t realise at the time there were genetic mutations that could be responsible for outliers like him)
But now the zeitgeist seem’s to be shifting.
Many influences within the space of entrepreneurship now seem to be coming around trumpeting the importance of sleep. What was once a cool thing to brag about not doing, is now a cool thing conform to.
This may be quite an unpopular opinion. But my instinct tells me that I don’t think those successful entrepreneurs and athletes who we look up to — who sacrificed all those hours of sleep would tell their younger selves ‘you should actually sleep 2–3 hours more every night’ .
I believe this simply because the influence they’ve had on the world has been largely predicated on squeezing the fucking life out of their days.
Once you’ve ‘made it’, I imagine it’s very easy to proclaim, ‘I’m sleeping 8 hours a night, sleep’s really important’. If your 50 year old self were to pop up in front of your 20 self right now and tell you to sleep more, I just don’t think you would listen. I probably wouldn’t. Especially if you were still on the come up and relatively unknown. Now if you had caused significant harm to yourself or others as a result of sleeping 4 hours a night for 5 years— different story. But I’m talking to those with the mental fortitude to push past a little temporary pain in exchange for long term pleasure accomplishment and fulfillment.
I believe the advantages of an extra 3–4 hours of effective work to your day set’s you up to pass by your competitors a lot more rapidly and create the life you want years ahead of expected time. I just don’t think it’s fair to say I want all these freedoms and opportunities in life all while relishing in the comfort of extended hours of sleep (among many other life comforts I won’t get into) that the majority are doing.
If you want something that only the top 1–2% have than you have to do something others aren’t doing.
Everyone is trying to find this perfect work life balance. I just don’t think this shit is suppose to be easy, comfortable and balanced. Just study the greats. The years when they’re coming up … is that really balanced? From my perspective, hell no it wasn’t. They were going hard as fuck at it, sacrificing whatever was needed.
I don’t want this shit to be easy. I guess this is the masochist in me talking. But sleeping for 9–10 hours (as much as my mind and body may need it) seems unfair to my own expectations of life. It seems unfair to the game I’m trying to play and win at.
But as an ex college athlete now strength coach I’m a walking contradiction. I know how important sleep is and I’ve gone against my opinion in this piece many times in the past and present. I understand how important sleep is for cognitive function, muscle growth and hormonal regulation. I’ve seen the studies. I actually do try and get sleep. But at the same time I don’t. I’m weird like that.
Regardless, this is just one man’s perspective. This is just one of the truths I’m discovering for myself so far. We’ll see in 1,2, 10 years if it worked for me.