Sleep, Hard Work, And Not Inversely Correlated

Sleep, Hard Work, And Not Inversely Correlated

We grew up thinking that the hardest workers often slept the least, or at least very little.  People make it sound like by sacrificing sleep to work, that we are working hard, and by sleeping a lot, we are not.  This cannot be further than the truth.

Sleeping in is completely different than needing sleep; we do the former when we feel lazy but we do the latter because it maximizes our productivity.  Everyone requires different hours of sleep, whether that may be 4 hours or 7 hours or 10 hours.  Without that proper amount and quality of sleeping, our ability to think, to react, or to behave may be impaired.  I know that when I’m sleepy, I spend a lot of wasteful energy fighting with myself to stay awake.  How exhausting is that?

Let’s imagine productivity is quantifiable for a second. Take the average person who sleeps 8 hours a day.  The maximum score you can get is 5 per hour.

When this average person sleeps 8 hours a day, he gets 16 hours to do things.  Because he has had enough sleep, his total productivity of the day would be 16 * 5 = 80, the perfect score for him.

When this average person sleeps 7 hours a day, he still manages to be very productive, but not at the optimal rate.  His productivity per hour becomes 4.5.  He gains an hour, so his total productivity of the day is 17 * 4.5 = 76.5.

What happens when this average person sleeps 6 hours or less?  His productivity per hour quickly diminishes.  It might become something like 3 per hour.  18 * 3 = 54.  Someone who sleeps 4 hours may have a productivity of 2.5 per hour.  20 * 2.5 = 50 for their score.

Let’s also assume the average person decided to sleep in one day for 9 hours.  He still retains the productive score of 5 per hour, but because he has one less hour of the day to do things, his score becomes 15 * 5 = 75.

It’s unbelievable how people fall into this trap that the less you sleep, the harder working you must be.  We hear all these stories about people sleeping for 4 hours a day and pounding their work, and we think they are hard working.  This is not necessarily the case as I’ve demonstrated.  Those people may have been born to be able to be productive with only 4 hours of sleep, and that’s OK.  If you are the average person that needs 8 hours of sleep, that’s OK too.  It’s when we decide to sleep in and spend our hour sleeping rather than working are we then considered lazy, as this wastes our total productivity of the day.

Sure, productivity isn’t just measured by the amount of sleep, and sleep can work in bizarre ways (some days you may only need 6 hours, some days sleeping 10 hours might make you less productive per hour etc.) but the point of this post is to illustrate how sleeping more doesn’t mean you’re any less hard working.  Everyone’s bodies work in different ways; what matters is that we wake up feeling refreshed and energetic.

So I call bullshit on “I get to sleep forever when I’m dead so why sleep now?”

What other beliefs have you heard of or experienced that are misleading?  Does this post convince you that companies should allow employees to have shorter working days, and perhaps implement naps in longer working days?

Sidenote: Not getting enough sleep may make you fatter.  Studies have shown that when we lack sufficient sleep, we require more energy, and the brain compensates for this by making you more hungry than usual.

Also: Check out the amazing benefits napping can give you: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Napping (from Patio Productions)




Intrigued with ideas, strategies, and unconventional concepts. Interested in new and logical theories.

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