Americans are terrible at sleeping. According to a 2011 poll from the National Sleep Foundation, 43% of Americans say they never get a good night’s sleep, 60% say they experience a sleep problem every night, 15% sleep less than 6 hours a night, and 100% say there shouldn’t be foundations for sleeping; people should just sleep. Getting less than seven and a half hours of solid sleep could include consequences and repercussions, including impaired memory, decreased optimism, impaired creativity, trouble concentrating, increased risk of death and increased risk of no life after death. I made that last one up, but the rest are real.
So, why aren’t Americans sleeping? The answer might lie in a recent article I read, about 19 “powerful” people who regularly give the Sleep Fairy the cold shoulder. Apparently, they don’t require the standard seven to eight hours of sleep that the rest of us mere mortals do. Here’s a small sampling of the super-successful non-sleeper’s hibernating habits:
Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter and Square Works 20 hours a day and sleeps 4 hours a night. Rumor has it that 10 of those 20 hours are spent trying to figure out how to give us less than 140 Twitter characters without a public uprising, as well as a way for the company to actually make money.
Donald Trump, No Title Needed – He’s freakin’ Donald Trump! Sleeps 3 or 4 hours a night with one eye open and can’t understand how anyone could live with themselves doing anything differently. “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” is his favorite haiku. Don, this is why your hair is doing what it’s doing. And it’s affecting all of us. I just had a nightmare about your hair last night. It made me get only 7.1 hours sleep and now I’m cranky and this blog post isn’t as useful as it most likely wasn’t going to be anyway. Please sleep more.
All these people have one thing in common: They’re all going to die sometime in the next 45 minutes. Wealth is wonderful. But not if you’re dead.
You know that expression “you can’t take it with you?” I don’t care if you are Jack Dorsey, Donald Trump, or the president of the United States—you need seven to eight hours of sleep a night or you are taunting the Grim Reaper. America is the most sleep-deprived nation on earth. We are also one of the illest (not in a Beastie Boy way), most obese, diseased and psychotic countries as well. We are sleep-deprived because we are peace-deprived. And our wealth is dwindling as a direct result.
A Harvard study estimates that sleep deprivation is costing companies $63.2 billion in lost revenue each year due to decreased productivity. To make it in this postmodern, high-tech, globally connected world where everyone is solely focused on their own personal gains requires superhuman levels of focus, motivation and energy. And this is impossible without a good night’s sleep. Here’s how I get mine:
1.) Start valuing sleep. Understand at a deep level that your happiness, well-being and wealth depend on you being well rested. Don’t let anything come between you and your seven to eight hours. Defend it like you defend your doughnuts from people at work who keep asking if they can have one. And then start not having doughnuts at some point. That will help too.
2.) Exercise vigorously in the late afternoon or early evening. When I say “vigorously,” I mean sweat should be gushing from every pore of your body. You should look like a fountain. If people aren’t tossing pennies at you and wishing for things, you’re not doing it right. This will both reduce stress and get you enough pennies to buy some melatonin.
3.) Take cold showers and ice baths. I take three ice baths a week. The trick is to make the bath at room temperature, get in, and then put a few bags of ice in. It slow-freezes you, like a frog in boiling water, but the opposite of that. Don’t try to be a hero and put the ice in first; trust me. Ice baths are like putting a shotgun to the head of anxiety and pulling the trigger. It also naturally boosts your body’s production of melatonin. I realize this may sound insane to some people, but it’s no more insane than sleeping five hours a night, drinking coffee to stay up, alcohol to get back down, and then putting poisonous chemicals on your face to erase the wrinkles that come as a direct result.
4.) Be as productive as possible during the day. If you don’t, your conscience won’t let you sleep. “I Could’ve Done More” is the worst lullaby song ever. “A day, well spent, brings happy sleep.” —Leonardo Da Vinci
5.) Destroy as few lives as possible during the day. If you don’t, your conscience won’t let you sleep. “I Could’ve Destroyed Less” is another lullaby flop. Ironically, that one was a hit with the Nazis. It put them all to sleep. That’s how we won.
6.) Rub a few drops of lavender and chamomile essential oil on the bottom of your feet and palm of hands right before bed. Cup your hands over your mouth and breathe it in for a minute. Add a few drops of chloroform if the situation warrants.*
(*DO NOT ACTUALLY DO THIS! And don’t Google “chloroform” unless you want a SWAT team knocking your door down in the next half-hour.)
7.) Get 20 minutes of morning sunlight on as much of your body as possible. This adjusts your body’s circadian rhythm to match reality. People used to be out in the sun every day. I don’t know if you knew that or not.
8.) Turn your TV off two hours before bed. Your brain thinks it’s the sun and it messes your circadian rhythm up. Better yet, never turn it on in the first place. You have no idea how dumb it’s making you.
9.) Develop a ritual (possibly with some of the things above) before bed. This sends a clear message to your subconscious that it’s time to switch everything off. Don’t let this somehow devolve into a satanic ritual. Those are bad. Satan is a horrible sleeper.
10.) Count 100 “gratitude sheep” when you close your eyes:
- I’m grateful it wasn’t any worse than it definitely was today.
- I’m grateful I wasn’t born a Nazi.
- I’m grateful for the extra bowl of porridge Barack has rationed us this month, March 2024.
Here’s a good rule of thumb: If you’re living life properly, you should have to fight for sleep (but still get it), and be glad when it’s over, meaning you pop out of bed without hitting the snooze button.
And by the way, anything more than eight hours of sleep is bad for you. You will find yourself more and more tired during the day. If that’s you, wake the heck up and stop avoiding reality. It’s not as bad as you think it is. It’s close, but not totally as bad.
Affirmation for the Week: I value sleep and am always full of energy.
Recommended Reading: The Power of Full Engagement by Tony Schwartz.
Leave a comment below; let us know how much sleep you get, and tell us any sleep-tricks you have up your sleeve. The world needs to know!
This post originally appeared at WakeWealthy.com.
Preston Ely is founder and CEO of RealEstateMogul.com, an Inc. magazine "Fastest Growing Company." He has built and sold multiple businesses and was recently voted one of Fast Company's "Most Influential People On The Internet." He makes $0 a year teaching success principles; he makes millions of dollars a year applying them to his own life and businesses. He writes articles for SUCCESS.com for the fun of it. Follow him at PrestonEly.com, on Facebook and on Twitter.