September 6, 2011

One Reason People Cannot Sleep Well (or Enough)

One problem with trying to get a good night's sleep -- let alone a regular schedule of healthy sleep -- is that we privilege people who are 24/7 dynamos.   Go, go, go!   How can you go home and "just sleep" when "successful people" cram their days full of projects and work and activity?   This pressures us to push ourselves, trim hours of sleep from our days to keep up.  I know I am pushing it by getting up at 5:00 AM just to exercise before work, bake my healthy muffins, or sit quietly before the day's rush.

Look at this article from Inc. where company leaders provide tips for more productivity -- often involving extending one's day (i.e. extending one's awake time and cutting down on sleep).   Jordan Zimmerman, founder of a billion-dollar company, demonstrates what I'm talking about.  He says to become more productive:

"Also, cut down on sleep.  Why would you sleep when it's time to live?  Sleeping isn't living.  You sleep when you die.  I get up at 3:30 every morning and I'm at the gym by 4."

Great, Jordan.  That's a challenging benchmark that not everyone may be able to achieve. Now researchers are finding this sort of superhuman approach to sleep may be genetically driven. (So that's how they do it!)  Some people may have a genetic predisposition to needing less sleep.  Where does that leave the rest of us?   Are we genetically predisposed to being slackers?  

RECOMMENDED READING:  One of my favorite stories is Nicholson Baker's A Box of Matches, a short book about a man waking up earlier and earlier to acquire extra time in the day for solitude and reflection before his family and the sun rises.  There is something decadent about waking up well-rested at 4:00 AM.

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