May 3, 2013

When I was younger, my father would say to me, “Amy Jo, you can’t bank sleep.” Evidentially, I thought I could deposit and withdraw hours into my mystical sleep account as I wished. I’d save up on hours, by sleeping in some days, and then deplete the account time after time. Not a solid strategy.

In fact, it wasn’t until about 2012 that I really started to respect and value sleep. As an entrepreneur, I’d burn the midnight oil more nights than not, averaging 4-ish hours of sleep a night max. I was not aware of the repercussions and my poor family, friends and teammates had to deal with the result. Looking back, I know for a fact that I would have made some different (key) decisions under the influence of 8 hours of sleep versus 4 hours. I simply thought I could get more done while everyone else was sleeping so I could “get ahead” or simply “keep up”. HA.

Today, I finished Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In. Toward the end, she writes about sleep deprivation: “Sleeping for four or five hours a night induces mental impairment equivalent to a blood alcohol level above the legal driving limit.” This was a fact pulled from a Harvard Business Review article titled “Sleep Deficit: The Performance Killer”. Another resource is “Sleep Deprivation: Impact on Cognitive Performance” in the Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment publication. I could keep listing references but I’ll refrain.

To recap, scientists have proven that sleep deprivation is like being intoxicated. So basically, if you’re depriving yourself from sleep and then navigating through your day, you might as well be drunk? Yep. You’re making countless big and small decisions about your life and future while under the influence, without realizing. Not a good formula for success, whatever your version of success looks like.

Awhile back, I watched this TED Talk by Arianna Huff on the topic of sleep. I wish I would have woken up and watched a little earlier. As I write this post, I can only hope that someone who needs a few more zzzzz’s each night will wake up and get them — they can leapfrog my mistake and snag my tired lessons free of charge.

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