RISE AND GRIND: 4 BASIC METHODS TO MAXIMIZE YOUR TIME AWAKE
TO SLEEP OR NOT TO SLEEP – THAT IS THE QUESTION…
I’m a little confused. Being an athlete and devoted student, I’ve been told for years to get at least 8 hours of sleep. Sleep is where you recover, recharge, and heal. We spend one third of our life sleeping, snoring, dreaming, and drooling.
However, being on this Project Rise journey, I’ve studied entrepreneurs, innovators, and many game changing people who have shaped our world. During my quest of understanding success, I’ve found a common pattern with these titans – they don’t sleep very much.
Thomas Edison bragged about how little sleep he allowed himself. He saw sleep as a roadblock to his progress in many of his inventions – including the light bulb. T. Ed only hired people who required little sleep and could match his 18 hour work days.
YouTube celebrity and creative juggernaut Casey Neistat often gets just a handful of hours of sleep due the demand of his successful Vlog. He stays up most hours of the night editing his daily videos for his over 7 million YouTube channel subscribers…see one of his short movies below.
This grind mode lack of sleep approach might earn you a badge of honor (and possibly more followers or money), but it isn’t for everyone. Athletes and especially young people need ample time to recover, recoup, and build their bodies to health. One of the most dominant defensive players in NFL history, JJ Watt, says sleep is one of his formulas for success. He gets over ten hours of sleep per night – especially during the rigors of training camp.
So which is it?
Rise and Grind or Stay and Sleep?
Consider this sleep scenario looking at two brothers – Adam and Ben. Both have similar DNA, but both have very different nightly patterns. Adam sleeps 5 hours every night. Ben sleeps 10 hours per night. Based off of this example, Adam will live 21% longer than Ben. How is this? Because he will be a awake for more hours each day.
Who wouldn’t want to live longer? Well, in this silly scenario, Adam isn’t living longer, he’s just sucking more out of each day, week, and month.
On the contrary though, what is a life when you are walking around like a tired sloth all the time because of lack of sleep? If this is you and you crave caffeine the same way vampires fien for fresh blood, then you, like millions of Americans, more closely resemble the zombies in the Michael Jackson video Thriller, than MJ in his prime.
Let me expose you to a happy medium to this sleep debate. Its called L.E.D. or Lowest Effective Dose. NY Times best selling author, top rated podcaster, angel investor, and entrepreneur, Tim Farriss, uses this philosophy to optimize many other areas of life, not just sleep – except he calls it the Minimal Effective Dose or M.E.D. (Check out his book the 4 Hour Body…it’s full of gems).
I’ve kept this approach in mind when dealing with my sleep. I’ve studied myself and reflected on my H.E.Q. or Hours/Energy Quotient, by trying to answer this question:
What’s the lowest minimal amount of sleep I need to be fully functional, engaged, and have enough energy to win the day?
I’ve found that my L.E.D. sweet spot is 6 hours. I can get by with 5 hours (but not ideal), and 7 hours is the most optimal. I’ve discovered that anything over 8 hours actually makes me more tired.
What is your Lowest Effective Dose for sleep?
Accompanied by my L.E.D., below are 4 strategies I’ve found to help me feel more rested and filled with energy to maximize my hours awake.
I’ve been tinkering with practicing mindfulness for years, and recently have gone all-in with this practice. The research is just too powerful. Over 150 studies suggest that a daily meditation practice (even for 10 minutes a day) reduces stress and anxiety – while helping one feel more rested and peaceful.
Last week I did a guided meditation/visualization session with several student-athletes, and after we finished, one player said, “I feel like I just woke up from a two hour nap!”
Give your body the benefit of daily mindfulness. Here’s a link to help you practice: Headspace
Want to reduce inflammation? Want to boost your metabolism? Want to improve your blood circulation and support your immune system? Need a way to wake yourself up besides coffee? Try mixing in a cold shower as part of your morning routine.
I’ve been taking a cold shower for several minutes each day for the past 6 months. I’m someone who loves a long hot shower, so this energy hack was a little challenging to adopt. To help with the transition, I usually start my showers off really hot, and while I brush my teeth, I gradually turn the temperature to as cold as it gets (I have an electric toothbrush which helps me keep track of time – it shuts off after 2 minutes).
I do one minute of cold water on my lower back, glutes, and hamstrings. I finish with 30 seconds to a minute on each quadricep and knee. Having both of my knees scoped, I used to have tendinitis (especially in my left one). After making cold showers a daily routine, I’ve felt zero pain or irritation in my knees!
Just like when I used to sit in cold tubs during my playing days, daily cold showers have helped me feel more refreshed, healthier, and full of energy. Give it a try!
Here’s an article to learn more about the power of cold showers.
Taking a nap has gotten a bad wrap in America. Many look at this technique as a sign of laziness. I look at taking a 10-15 minute power nap as a strategy to recharge my body and mind. Many European countries see the value in taking a daily ciesta. They even build this daily practice into their work schedule. Companies like Google and Uber also see the benefit of shutting your eyes for a few minutes a day. They’ve even built nap rooms or spaces for their employees to get a quick rest in.
Being in outside sales, I’m lucky enough to be able to control my schedule. A few times a month, during lunch time, I’ll take a 10-15 minute power nap in my car – especially if I was up late the night before writing a blog post like this! I’ll also sneak in a quick nap on most weekends (my favorite napping spot is in the car…I have the best wife…she’s driving of course!).
Research shows that anything over 40 minutes will actually make you more tired and may be unhealthy (see article here). Remember to keep them short and sweet, and feel the benefit of this healthy restful practice.
To learn more about the benefit of taking a power nap and the well-known companies that support it, click here.
I saved the best for last. Unequivocally, the number one source that fuels energy is doing something that you love. How do you spell the word love? T – I – M – E. Passion and purpose are what fuels action and persistence. Whether you are Michael Jordan, Bill Gates, or Warren Buffet, doing what you love and excel in just flat out gives you energy. It helps you bounce back from failure, and stay committed for the long haul.
At this stage of my life I feel like I am able to wake up and feel ready to go because I’m doing what I love: whether its spending time with my family, crushing my medical sales job, coaching, or leaving a legacy and helping others through Project Rise. If your career is taking away your energy, it might be time to discover your calling. Doing what you love will give you the energy needed to live a juiceful life (yup, just made up a word)…if you wanna be useful, you gotta be juiceful!
If your current career isn’t your life calling, then find something else you can do when you are not working that fills you up. You owe it to yourself to be intentional about doing activities that you love and that give you energy.Purpose is the ultimate passion and energy hack!
Now it’s your turn!
If you use 1 or more of the 4 energy strategies I listed above and give yourself 1 extra hour of being awake per day, here’s the breakdown of how much extra time you’ll get:
• One month: 30 hours or over 1 extra day a month…what could you do with an extra day per month?
• One year: 360 hours or 2 extra weeks a year…that’s like a long vacation!
• Five years: 1,800 hours or 2.5 extra months every 5 years…that’s like getting an extra summer break!
What would you do with extra time? Would you read more? Develop a new skill? Exercise? Finally turn your side project into your main project? Spend more QT with your soul mate?
Whatever it is you chose to do, my goal for writing this post is that you find your L.E.D. for sleep; you try an energy hack that I listed; and you get the most out of each 24 hours you’re alive. The reality is, the most successful people are able to do more with their time.
No one ever looks back on their life and says, “Damn, I wish I would have slept more.”
I don’t know about you, but I’m trying to squeeze out as many hours and days from Father Time as I can. Why?…
Because he’s a stingy bastard.