Sleeping for Efficiency

Blurry lights

Sleep is one of those things that is annoying. You need it, proven by science and such, but it takes up so much time! I guess adults should get around 8 hours of sleep each night. Children even more. All so that our bodies function to their fullest potential. But 8 hours is a lot of time considering it is a third of your day.

The way I have approached this for the past few years is to shrug my shoulders and ignore what “they” say we need to get each night. 6 hours of sleep each night has been my average for a while, 4 here and there, 5 on and off, etc. 7 on a good night, like tonight. 8 when I’m on vacation.

I don’t need science to prove that I function better when I sleep longer than 6 hours. Wednesday night of this week I decided to quit working early and go to bed around 10pm. I woke up at 6am and could tell a difference immediately in how I felt that early in the morning. 8 hours of sleep made a difference. I definitely moved quicker that morning, and my attitude was much more positive than it usually is this time of year. My productivity level during the day seemed to be higher. And I felt much more responsive to things as they came my way, planned or unplanned. My mind seemed to be working at a much faster rate. This was all great!

So why don’t I do that each night? Like tonight (Thursday evening), for instance. Today was that great day, and yet here I am, up after 11pm and I know my alarm is going to go off at 6am. I’ll get 6-6.5 hours of sleep depending on when I get this post wrapped up. I know that isn’t enough, yet I continue to allow my scheduled day to include “In bed at 11:30pm.”

My typical weekly calendar showing 11:30pm as "bed time"
My typical weekly calendar showing 11:30pm as “bed time”

It is one of those catch 22 scenarios. I would like to get a lot more accomplished each day. To do this I stay up late and wake up early. Over time this takes a toll on my body (physically and mentally) and I crash. This usually happens twice a year. My body gives up, puts down all immune systems, and lets me get sick so I’m forced to sleep all day.

What if I scheduled  8 hours of sleep, 10pm-6am? Would my productivity and efficiency increase? Or would the lack of that 1.5 hours make such a difference that I get a lot less done each day? Does this involve, more than I realize currently, my choice to begin saying “No” more often? Does the lack of “productive” time matter if I’m considering the prospect of gaining an extra 6 hours of sleep Monday – Thursday?

In writing that last paragraph I am inclined to take another look at my schedule. Move things around (again) and figure out how I can still do what I need to do, but finish the day at 10. Realistically I should finish the day at 9:30 so I can be asleep by 10. Just thinking out loud here.

How do you approach sleep? Do you have it scheduled like I do, or do you get to it when you get to it? What have you found to be your preferred hours of sleep so that you are able to function at maximum efficiency?

Author: Aaron

Husband, father, and business owner. Constantly learning, adapting, changing, and thinking. Prefers to do the previous sentence with a cigar in hand.

6 thoughts on “Sleeping for Efficiency”

  1. This is something that I’m constantly trying to work on but I’M SO INCONSISTENT haha. It’s crazy how good you can feel though if you get the proper sleep all throughout the week. Wish it was easier to go to sleep sometimes. Great post, nice blog!

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    1. Kyle, couldn’t agree more! The main thing that keeps me up longer than I’d like is the many things that I want to do. Writing more often, reading more, and the never ending work related items are all things that keep me up. I’m giving a serious look at my schedule to see what I can do to still accomplish what I want while not sacrificing sleep. Do you have any strategies for making your sleep schedule more consistent (and closer to 8 hours each night)?

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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      1. I have the same problem! The best thing that works for me is planning better and sticking to the plan. For instance I’ll plan to shut down my computer by 8 p.m. and go read a book instead. I’ve found that staring at a computer or being in a well lighted area right before bed can negatively affect your sleep. So I try to wind down for a couple hours and avoid using my computer, t.v. and cell phone. Just one tip that I’ve found that helps although it’s still hard to follow at times!

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