“If you’re going to do something tonight that you’ll be sorry for tomorrow morning, sleep late.” – Henny Youngman
Why is it on some days you feel great and some days you feel like total crap? You decide to wake up early one day and pack as many things as you can into it. Then the next day you do the same, but fail miserably, giving up at noon because you’ve got a migraine and you can’t keep your eyes open. Then you ask yourself: why am I such a lazy fool? Why can’t I be consistently active and performing mentally at my peak. Some days you’re motivated to move a mountain, some days you can’t be bothered moving a pen from A to B. Why?
This has happened to me, and I’m sure a lot of you readers out there too. Well, the culprit and the solution is lo and behold: Redbull. Nope, got you there, its sleep. Sleeping more than 5 hours is not a sign of weakness, even not more than 7. Yes, you heard me right, even 7 isn’t enough.
I’d recently been experimenting with sleep. I would wake up really early, and not sleep after Fajr. Then continue throughout the day getting A LOT done. Then going to sleep at about 11:30 pm feeling really tired but incredibly fulfilled and accomplished. Next day: same thing, though at about 4pm afternoon, I’d be as slow as a sloth, struggling to keep my eyes open. This would continue throughout the week, resulting in fluctuations in mood, effectiveness and productivity. I’d blame myself for being lazy, weak-hearted and just an idiot for not being able to manage my life.
Cue epic halal nasheed.
Then I started recorded my sleep.
And here’s the punchline: a good night’s sleep of 8 hours is a more potent energy stimulant than 5 double espresso shots and a punch to the face.
Let me explain.
I stopped restricting my sleep. I woke up whenever my body felt like (I disregarded time taken for Fajr). I recorded when I went to bed and when I woke up. I did this for 37 days. And the results?
I slept on average 8 hours a day. And on those days, I felt awesome. Productivity, mood and overall energy was at peak levels.
I’d go to Uni feeling energetic, awake and in the zone, consistently throughout the day. That guilt I previously felt from waking up late had to go, this new force of energy compensated.
Nothing compensates sleep as the greatest source of physical and mental energy throughout the day
What I also noticed was that if I slept more than 8 hours, even by half an hour, my energy levels would slightly falter from that peak level. More than 9 and it felt like I’d only slept 4 hours.
So here are the main points from my sleepy experiment.
- Consistent 8 hours of sleep for more than a week results in consistent peak energy levels, mentally and physically.
- Sleeping less or even more than 8 hours (even by more than half an hour) results in lethargy, laziness, physical and mental drain.
This was literally the secret to unlocking consistent peak performance. Sleep, not coffee, not meditation, not diet. Sleep by far is the greatest energy source for the day. I’d established that sleep is power. So the next step was sleep quality.
Do not consume caffeine after 4pm. Why? It bleeds on to your sleep quality. The difference between doing this and not doing this is 1 hour of rolling around in bed and alternating sleeping positions 116 times before you fall to sleep.
Staying up late to get an extra 3 hours of study time may seem like a smart thing. But the after effects the next day will eliminate the potential hours of study you could’ve done during the day.
Sacrifice those 2 hours at night, get to sleep and have the energy to study 8 hours the next day. Ever thought of that? Not to mention, one night’s lack of sleep will take at least 2 days to get back into normal sleep cycles and energy levels.
- Sleep 8 hours a day, nothing more, nothing less.
- The Sweet Spot: 10.30pm to 6.30 am. Wake to pray Fajr and don’t sleep afterwards.
- Stay away from caffeine after 4pm.
The heart beats in two thirds and rests one third. It goes the same for your day. 24 divide by 3 is 8, that’s the amount of sleep homo sapiens are designed to have, maybe it’s different for homo neanderthalensis but definitely 8 for us. Sleep is not sign of weakness, get that off your mind.
Staying up and studying till 3 am is not a sign of strength, its bad time management. It’s also stupid.
So, if you’re after consistent mental and physical peak performance to be more effective during the day, you HAVE to give this a try. Try it for a week, and monitor your energy levels. I guarantee you will see changes in your mood and overall happiness.