Sleep and Productivity: Why You Should Have No Shame in Sleeping Like a Rock

We don’t get enough sleep.

The National Sleep Foundation says that adults ages 26-64 need at least 7-9 hours of sleep every night. With getting up early to commute and/or putting in late hours at work plus other adult responsibilities, it’s hard to get 7-9 hours in. (Particularly if you have young kids who will wake you up at night, but I’m not gonna get into that since it’s just me and the toad.) But not barring any sleep disorders like insomnia, we just don’t get enough sleep. Even doctors are saying that between increased demands from jobs and ironically a focus on health (getting up insanely early to exercise), we’re trying to cram more into 24 hours than ever before and it’s causing intense sleep deprivation in most adults.

Exhausted woman sleeping in front of computer

That changed for me once I left the 9-5 world. Sure, I had a lot of sleepless nights due to anxiety about money, then from sometimes just having to stay up late because I had a deadline or was super into a project. But in general, unless I have morning appointments or am so tired that I think I’ll be in bed until the 2nd Avenue subway is done being built, I never set an alarm. My body tends to force me up a little early when I have a lot of stuff planned and a sizable to-do list, but otherwise I sleep whenever and however the hell I want and I feel utterly fantastic for it. And oh my, the vitriol I’ve gotten for it!

If such a term exists, I’ve gotten sleep-shamed when I say that I get 8-10 hours and don’t set an alarm. Even other self-employed people have piled on me for saying it, acting like they’re frigging better than me or something because they get up earlier or set alarms every day. I actually heard a colleague say one day, “Yeah, I started getting up and getting ready when my partner leaves for work at 7. I figure I should do this like an adult instead of just going to work whenever.” I raised my eyebrow and thought, “Um, if you get your work done when your clients need it done and are conquering other things you have to do, who cares what time of day you did them? WTF is anti-adult about getting your work done?!” Why must people conflate adulthood with sticking to a rigid schedule that starts early in the morning? I’ve done my work at various times of the day and none of my clients or Toadlets care if I do it at 10AM or 3AM. Or if I hopped to it between the gym and dinnertime, or while I laid down with the iPad on my bed. Or the more likely scenario of it being the middle of the night and I’m sitting here with no pants on while I put all my social media stuff on autopilot.

I’m very live and let live, and Sonic Toad is a “you do you” kind of space. If getting up early and setting an alarm works for you, that’s totally fine. But getting enough sleep has intersectionality with being a morning person instead of a being a night person, like the former often thinks they’re better. The Angry Video Game Nerd touched upon this in one of his “You Know What’s Bullshit” videos, he talks about how night owls tend to be thought of as lesser than early risers even if they’re doing the same exact things at the same pace.

I hear lots of other entrepreneurial types talk about how sleep is for the weak or some other total bullshit. Well, I dunno about that.  My skin and hair look better than they ever did in the days when I had to yank myself out of bed at ass o’clock. One or two cups of tea is all I need in the morning, I don’t need to mainline black coffee like I did in the old days when I couldn’t sleep when my body needed to. My eating habits are also less out of whack since I actually feel hungry getting up, instead of feeling too sleepy and nauseous to eat then wanting to eat everything in sight once I got off my subway stop. 

And if you think sleep is for weaklings, welp, if you drive any motor vehicle then please get the fuck off the road with that attitude before you kill someone.

Good, consistent sleep has made me a lot happier and more productive. I’m not constantly forgetting things the way I did before and am a lot more alert. These are definitely not bad things to have going for you when you want to crush it at your own business. There are other ways to efficiently manage your time, such as making lists and schedules followed by outsourcing business and personal tasks, so that you can take care of your health and other priorities. Which is better: six hours of quality work and getting things done, or eight hours of phoning it in because you’re constantly nodding off?

It’s bad enough for just one night. But long-term sleep deprivation also exacerbates depression and anxiety disorders, leads to memory problems, and causes increased risk for stroke, heart failure, high blood pressure, and all these other fun problems.

So do you want to be a sleep-deprived mess who can’t remember anything and isn’t able to be on your A-game because of some stupid, outdated horseshit social more that dates back to when virtually everyone was a farmer just so you can have some “Look at how I’m busier than you!” bragging rights, or do you want to feel awesome with a memory sharper than a Riker’s Island toothbrush which will enable you to retain more knowledge for crushing it out there? (Plus impress the bejesus out of your clients, colleagues, and readership when you can clearly remember their birthdays and the way you met?)

Down with sleep-shaming! Getting less sleep than someone else doesn’t make you morally superior.

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