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Sleep Your Way To The Top

You've no doubt heard people constantly talking about how important sleep is?

In this article, we want to share some information about the 'science' of sleep as many people underestimate just how critically important it actually is. We also want to address what to do to improve your sleep and get higher levels of sleep quality. 

So let's dive deeper into this topic and try to elicit some paradigm and mindset shifts. 

Here’s a fun fact… Humans seem to be the only animals who ‘under-sleep’ for no apparent gain. In fact, in many work environments, it’s become normalised to under-sleep to the point where exhaustion is a state that’s become the ‘norm’.

In some work cultures this state of exhaustion is almost worn like a badge of honour; being the first to the office in the morning, the last to leave at night, working on the weekend, and even during holidays. But if we consider this from a biological perspective, it's horrifying.

And if we reason from first principles, building upwards from a foundation of truth and science versus looking at what others are doing around us then we can start to get a sense of how devastating under-sleeping is for each of us.

You see, just because under-sleeping is normalised in many societies, what's normal is not an indicator of what’s true. And in the case of under-sleeping, what's ‘normal’ is destroying your mind, body, and results. 

The long-term health implications of chronic under-sleeping are severe (and let’s consider less than 7 hours a night for 3+ months as the measure for chronic under-sleeping). Without being hyperbolic, if you’re under-sleeping you’re literally reducing your life expectancy, destroying your quality of life, and dramatically reducing your performance levels.

In fact, science shows that under-sleeping significantly increases your chances of contracting physical ailments such as heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, a weakened immune system, and a negatively impacted heart rate variability which is an indicator of overall stress in the body.

Additionally, from a neuroscience perspective, you’re certainly increasing the chances of getting Alzheimer's and impacting your central nervous system which impairs cognitive and emotional regulation processes. 

So the point is by now clear, under-sleeping is really bad for you. And, in addition to these first-order consequences (health) let's consider the second-order consequences. Many people who are unknowingly chronically exhausted lose sight of ‘who they are’ i.e. they’ve lost track of their baseline level of creativity.

Maybe you can relate? Maybe you know someone you would describe this way? 

Really knowing your baseline level of charisma and emotional expressions, what your self-discipline looks like, your emotional regulation, your ability to be present with family members… These are some of the yardsticks for knowing 'who you are'. And if someone is chronically under-slept then these have likely become suppressed along the way and losing track of them is the consequence.

And this level of exhaustion suppresses your potential. It’s likely you lose sight and perception of your potential or what you’re capable of until you get to a state of sleeping optimally. All that potential has been bottled up by your willingness to deprive yourself of sleep, and who knows the extent to which this is holding you back. 

Ask yourself this. What insights or breakthrough ideas are you NOT having because your brain is fatigued due to exhaustion? What relationships are you NOT building because you just don’t have the energy? What good habits and behaviours are you NOT installing? And what are the downstream compounding consequences on potential new goals that you’re not setting because chronic sleep deprivation is suppressing your potential? 

But you have the power to fix all of this as sleep is also almost always more powerful than any other high-performance intervention. It’s extremely tough to find a peak performance protocol, supplement, or piece of technology that is more impactful on your cognitive performance and your overall capacity than just 30 minutes of sleep.

And modern research backs this up.

It shows us that sleep makes you live longer, enhances your memory, makes you more creative, makes you look more attractive, keeps you sane, lowers food cravings, reduces and protects you from cancer and dementia, ward's off colds and flu, lowers your risk of heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes, it produces more positive emotion and decreases susceptibility to anxiety and depression. 

What more do you need to know to start giving sleep a higher level of priority in your life?

It’s time to reframe sleep and start thinking of it as a high-performance state-like flow! Aside from the physiological restoration that occurs whilst you sleep, there’s a broad and powerful range of neurological work going on also. 

First off, learning and memory formation.

While you sleep your brain is busy forming new memories, consolidating older ones, and linking more recent memories with earlier memories.  For this reason, sleep plays a very important role in learning, it helps you to cement new information you're taking in for a better later recall. 

Second, sleep is a powerful creativity booster.

In an unconscious resting state, the mind can make surprising new connections that perhaps wouldn't have been made in an awakened state. Think of it as 'creativity housekeeping'. This is why the notion of ‘outworking’ people by under-sleeping is a myth. You're actually suppressing the potential breakthrough ideas that occur and form during sleep. So by under-sleeping, you’re circumventing the very process that’s going to result in exponential leaps in performance and improvement in your business and life. 

The third thing that sleep does neurologically that is so incredibly important is brainwashing.

Literally. As it turns out, another reason we need sleep is that it clears out the naturally occurring toxins which accelerate neuro-degeneration. The brain's neurons actually refresh themselves while we sleep. and this clears awareness connections between cells, removes toxic byproducts created during the day, and literally washes itself. 

So for anyone who believes that they’ll catch up with the mythical ‘sleep debt’ or are too busy to prioritise sleep know this: sleep is not just this perceived gap in your productivity, it's actually an extreme form of productivity that you are just not conscious of.

So now we’ve gone through the importance of sleep and the degree to which it's going to elevate your productivity; your success and your well-being, here are 3 tools that you can use in order to really start making exponential improvements in your cognitive performance. 

1) Tetris Reframing.

You've probably seen the game Tetris. Visually, different coloured blocks float down into a kind of fixed container. The trick is to start thinking about your day as if it's a game of Tetris. By that we mean, the time in your day is like the fixed container in Tetris i.e. like the hours and minutes in your day, you can't make the container bigger to fit more blocks in.

So the game is trying to fit as many of the ‘blocks’ into your day by piecing them together as effectively as possible rather than trying to make the container bigger. This is far more beneficial than just trying to expand your container, compressing your sleep time, and then suffering all of the negative consequences of being under-slept. 

2) Sleep Forecasting.

It’s time to take responsibility and create a sleeping culture for yourself and your family. How? By reframing the old myths and proactively planning your life around high-quality sleep.

This should be very achievable for most people in their normal routines but is usually not a variable that comes to mind when planning trips. It's more common to consider the fastest or cheapest flights for example and we actually don't normally forecast sleep in our planning logic. 

So you must really start moving sleep up your priority list when it comes to decision-making criteria and forecasting your life activities.

Start viewing sleep as sacred and non-negotiable. 

3) Sleep Your Way To The Top.

If you have an ambitious, entrepreneurial personality type and want to achieve amazing goals -  win by sleeping, out sleep your competition. By now you understand that sleep yields a ferocious competitive advantage with which you can cripple your competition. 

Imagine if your cognitive capacities are functioning on eight hours of sleep versus someone who's been on five and a half hours for the last two weeks or longer. There’s just no comparison even if it's perceived that they have an extra two and a half hours more time to play with during the day. They’re just ‘junk hours’ owing to their depleted cognitive state.

In summary...

We've talked a lot about the importance of sleep and provided some key ways you can start to reap the benefits of getting adequate restorative sleep into your life, every single day.

If you want to dive deeper into this subject and all other areas of how you can optimise your performance at work and in life then you may be an ideal candidate for our 12-month leadership development and personal performance program, Unleashing Potential.

We’ve got an incredible, hyper-engaged community and an ‘all star’ coaching team comprising Special Forces veterans (like Commando Steve), elite athletes, and subject matter experts across subjects like positive psychology, sleep, stress management, nutrition, and much more. 

It’s not for everyone and that’s why we take our application process seriously. That said, it's a heap of fun, incredibly immersive, and sets participants on a path of health, fulfillment, and success, at work and in life. 

If you’d like to know more we’d suggest completing our ‘Impact Scorecard’ (Get Your Score) which will get you an instant score, an emailed report, a (physical) copy of Lead By Example book, and the opportunity to jump onto a 1:1 coaching call with our co-founder Mat Lock.

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