I value my sleep

This week we’ve been talking about demonstrating what you value, not just saying you value something with no action that backs up your claim.

Monday we looked at how we say we value learning, but often don’t show it, and I gave you some practical advice on how to budget your time so your schedule accurately represents the things you value — like learning.

Yesterday we talked about having a bunch of ideas that are going to revolutionize the world. And we addressed the hard question of whether you’ve budgeted the time to work on your great ideas — an action that demonstrates these ideas really are important to you.

Today we’re getting honest about sleep and how it’s an important part of your time budget. When we talk about schedules and time management, many people leave sleep out of the discussion, but it’s just as important as your work, learning, and idea development.

Me likes sleep

The first 3 months of my marriage were spent guiding canoe trips with my wife. That meant our sleep schedule was tied to the rising and setting of the sun.

It also meant that we were 4 months into our marriage before we moved into an apartment and had ‘normal’ jobs and a ‘normal’ life.

It was also the first time my wife had a real look at my bedtime routine which starts around 9:30 or 10:00 each night. It took her two weeks to ask:

Her: Do you really go to sleep at 10pm every night?

Me: Yup I like my sleep. Love ya good night.

I’ve always valued my sleep.

Arianna Huffington has a great 4-minute talk on how important sleep is to your day.

One of her points in this article is that lack of sleep isn’t some form of one-upmanship.

You know who I’m talking about — that person (really it’s often a guy engaged in this silly one-upmanship) at a conference who’s rocking their business, achieves a mind-blowing number of things done each day, and only sleeps 5 hours a night. This person is likely followed by another idiot who tells you they’ve been going so hard that they’ve only had 4 hours of sleep a night for the last week or two running. But, like the first idiot, they’ve achieving great things. And YOU CAN DO IT TOO!!

I aim for 7 – 8 hours of sleep a night every night. That’s what I’m going to brag on at a conference. “I get more sleep than you, and I have a 10-month-old baby.”

Clear heads

There’s a great study on the cognitive benefits of sleep1.

In the study, half the group was trained on a key sequence at 10 a.m., and tested on the task 12 hours later. The second group was trained at 10 p.m. and tested at 10 a.m. (after a night of sleep).

The second group that got a night of sleep showed a significant improvement in performance over the group that didn’t have sleep between training and testing.

There’s a second great article2 that shows people who take naps score higher on cognitive tests.

I haven’t found any research that proves a lack of sleep will result in better performance. Nor would that match with any experience I’ve had.

Let’s not gamify lack of sleep

You don’t get a badge for hours worked or for missing sleep, so why do we gamify it with one-upmanship in our conversations?

If we have any reaction to the person bragging about little sleep, it should be to talk to them about the need for proper sleep and the fact that they are idiots.

I value my sleep. If I am running at 6 a.m. I go to bed by 9:30 p.m. so that I can get enough sleep and still function during the day.

Choosing any other option is choosing to not perform at my best for my clients.

We should always want to give our best to our clients, which should be reason enough for valuing sleep.

photo credit: clement127 cc


  1. Walker MP, Brakefield T, Morgan A, Hob-
    son JA, Stickgold R. Practice with sleep makes perfect: sleep-dependent motor skill learning. Neuron 2002;35:205–211. 
  2. Tietzel, A., & Lack, L. (2001). The Short-Term Benefits of Brief and Long Naps Following Nocturnal Sleep Restriction. Journal of Sleep Research & Sleep Medicine, (24(3)), 293-300. 

3 thoughts on “I value my sleep

  1. Amen! And if I may, here’s 2 things I can add:

    1. Like most things in lie, you probably can’t appreciate sleep until it’s taken away from you. Having children profoundly changes your perspective. No more at-will naps = you look forward to bedtime.

    2. For the average person, sleep is zero-sum. Whenever I’ve pulled long hours one night (and got a lot done), the next day is an unproductive wasteland.

    Thanks, Curtis!

    1. Oh kids, I swear they’re cute so you don’t kill them when they’re up 5 times in a night. At least that’s my thought with my 11 month old at 3am.

      With my second it really hit home about how much I love my sleep. I don’t remember finding it super tough with the first but every early morning or bad night really got me this time around. I am 5 years older as well.

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