Sleep and Your Productivity

Several months ago, Gail and I were sitting in the den after a quiet dinner. I had been traveling extensively, and this was the first evening I had been home in days. I said to her, “I don’t know what it is, but I feel really discouraged.”

Man comfortably sleeping in his bed - Photo courtesy of ©, Image #9674561

Photo courtesy of ©

We talked about several possible causes. Nothing seemed that significant. Finally, in a moment of typical insight, she said, “Do you think you are discouraged or just tired?”

After thinking about it a moment, I replied, “Yes, I think that’s exactly it. I am just tired.”

It’s easy to confuse the two. The symptoms are similar. It reminded me again of something my parents used to tell me when I was in college: “You can’t burn the candle at both ends.”

By that, they meant that you can’t get up early and stay up late. You might be able to get away with it occasionally, but eventually you burn out—just like a candle would eventually do if you could light it at both ends.

The psalmist said,

It is useless for you to work so hard
  from early morning until late at night,
anxiously working for food to eat;
  for God gives rest to his loved ones.” (Psalm 127:2 NLT)

Once again, I was reminded that I have to actively manage my energy level. If I don’t take care of myself, I’m not going to be much use to anyone else.

Of all the things that affect my energy and productivity, nothing is more important than getting a good night’s sleep. Exercise, diet, and mental focus are all important, but they can’t make up for a lack of rest.

Here’s how I make sure I get a good night’s sleep:

  1. Avoid caffeinated drinks in the evening. When I was younger, I could drink coffee after dinner. No more. I cannot drink caffeine after 4:00 p.m.
  2. Eliminate all negative input. I am a worrier by nature. If I watch or talk about anything negative after about 6:00 p.m., I will stew on it all night.
  3. Go to bed on time. This is huge. I have to be strict with myself. For me, this means no later than 10:00 p.m., unless it’s a weekend.
  4. Make sure the room is dark. We have blinds on the windows that cut out 95 percent of the outside light.
  5. Keep the temperature cool. In the winter, we keep it at about 68°. In the summer, about 70°. I sleep more soundly if the room is cool enough to require a blanket.
  6. Listen to relaxing music. This doesn’t work for everyone, but I listen to the same exact music every night. It’s become an audio queue that says to my subconscious mind and body, “It’s time to go to sleep now.”
  7. Run a fan. The “white noise” mutes outside noise and puts me to sleep. When I am on the road, I loop “Ambient White Noise for Sleep,” which I downloaded from iTunes.

It is surprising how much more productive I am when I have had a full night’s sleep. Problems that seemed insurmountable at the end of the previous day are manageable with a full charge on my biological battery.

Questions: How important is sleep for you? What do you do to insure adequate rest?
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  • patriciazell

    A good night's sleep is a must for me. I follow most of your guidelines with some minor differences. Instead of room-darkening blinds, I wear an eye mask which really works. Several years ago, I was struggling with falling and staying asleep, so I decided to try one. I was amazed at how much better I slept. Also, rather than music, I read or work a crossword puzzle for a few minutes after I climb into bed. My brain quickly closes down during that time.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I use the masks sometimes when I fly internationally. They really do work.

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  • Clare

    Definitely agree! Sleep is massively important (partly as it's the area I'm employed in!). I make sure I'm in bed at roughly the same time and get up at about the same time – and make sure I get the 7-8hrs I need…
    Anyone who struggles to sleep (especially if they also snore) could see a Dr and get checked for sleep apnea – treatment makes a massive difference in people who suffer from it…

    • Michael Hyatt

      I have known a few people who have been treated for sleep apnea. It has made ALL the difference. They swear by it.

      • Stacy

        I am on the other side of the snoring! Unless I fall asleep very quickly (or if I wake in the night), my husband's snoring keeps me awake and I finally end up moving to another room. When this happens, the emotion I feel is despair! I am now putting this interrupted sleep pattern together with my increased stress and inability to cope during the day.

        • Clare

          Hey Stacy, his snoring is not just bad for you but could be bad for his long term health – it's worth seeing a Dr about…

        • @ajeanne

          One of my cousins told me that she sleeps with ear plugs. I find they are so helpful in hotel rooms, especially… but they'd help for snoring, too. Plus, your husband may not be getting enough deep sleep if he is snoring. He should ask his doctor about doing a sleep study.

  • Ellis Still

    Was this post directed at me? I just did consecutive all-nighters working on launching my online store. As an entrepreneur this is more of the norm for me, yet in my heart I know that I will be better able to serve when I am well rested. There is so much to do, and no capital to pay someone else to do it. Yet I also realize that scheduling my day and setting realistic expectations of how much I can get done in a day are areas that I need much more discipline in. Thanks for this post… Its right on time. :- )

    Have a great day!!!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Great. Pacing yourself is important. I’m afraid I have too often had to learn the hard way.

      • Ash

        Ah yes. Pacing yourself. So so true. I need to do more of this.

  • Scott Smith

    Great post. I do best when I follow very similar guidelines to yours. Being self-employed though, I occasionally get nailed with very late nights. I always pay for it! Feeling it more these days. Like you mentioned in point #1, I'm finding I can't do what I used to do!

    Now – off to find some coffee!

  • Christopher Hopper

    Oddly enough, I learned the value of this lesson while working on my last two books for a particular publisher. [Uh-hem]. My co-author was a night owl; me, an early bird. We decided to write online together at night as my scheudle is more flexible. I went from a 10pm bedtime to a 1am bedtime. Problem: I couldn’t shut off 30 years of waking up at 6am. Result: cranky, depressed, irrational. I’m a very high-output individual so 5 hours wasn’t cutting it.

    I have since gotten my bedtime back to a normal hour. My tip? Spousal pressure. My wife can’t stand me when I’m a mess, so I’ve given her permission to kick my butt and get me in bed.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I’ve given my wife the same permission. We always go to bed together, so it helps to have a partner in this.

  • Craig T. Owens

    I’m reading Dr. Archibald Hart’s book “Sleep, It Does A Family Good.” It’s been very enlightening to see how I’ve fooled myself into thinking I can do more with less sleep. Even though I know better (I see the decreased creativity and increased stress in myself). But sometimes I’ve just got to see it in black-and-white to apply it.

    Michael Hyatt and Dr. Hart, thanks for the reminder!

    • Michael Hyatt

      I must get Dr. Hart’s book. I know his work and love it. This book sounds really good. Thanks.

  • @lancecashion

    I have struggled with 'burning the candle at both ends' and wonder why my stress levels are high or I'm anxious. Until 2 years ago, I thought that working tirelessly (12-14hrs) on top of everything else was good and 'productive'. I was wrong.

    My small group read "Making Room for Life" (Frazee) and the section regarding The Hebrew Daily Planner resonated with me. The schedule is based on Genesis 1 as a schedule for everyday life.

    Suddenly, a light went on and I realized I was not the best version of myself that I should be. And my family and team were suffering…. not to mention, I was beyond tired. God gave us an example of work/production/rest in Gen 1.

    Today, I stick to that schedule. Sleep is as vital as food to our well-being. I would not be surprised if scientists link lack of rest to the majority of major illness in America (including mental nervous-depression/ADD/ADHD/etc) imo.

    Great post, Michael. Have a great day!


    • Michael Hyatt

      I need to get that book. It sounds fascinating.

      I intended to mention in my post that when God created the world, Genesis says that “evening and morning were the first day.” In the daily liturgical cycle, Vespers (evening prayer), begins the day.

      I think the clear application is that if you want to have a great day, you have to begin the night before.

      • david

        Eugene Peterson highlights this phrase alot, it's helped me see my day differently.
        Making LIfe Workd is s great book.

        Wonder if NOT 'burning the candle on both ends' can also mean being able to work a few hours at night, and not being an early bird in the morning – since we're all wired differently.

    • Princess Leia

      Scientists have already linked a lack of _good_ sleep to ADD/ADHD characteristics. The brains are wired differently, so it is difficult to get to the delta-wave (? I think, maybe it was theta) state that is "deep" sleep. Not to mention that many ADD meds are stimulants (to kick the brain into beta (alert) and out of alpha (daydreaming)), so when the meds start to wear off, the body just shuts down. It's tough on the body which then requires more rest.

      • lancecashion

        Leia, that is interesting. I have ADHD. However, I have learned to harness it and direct it toward creative (I'm 36). In any event, I had major sleep issue when I was younger. Do you happen to have any links to more info? I plan on googling the subject tonight.

        On a side note, I remember reading somewhere (a couple years ago) about the majority of Americans being under-hydrated or dehydrated for most of their lives and the effects on health (mental/physical). There was mention of sleep disorders. I find it sad when folks drink 2-3 sodas per day, coffee, no water and complain about sleep and stress.

        David, I'll check out "Making Life Work" thanks.

        • Princess Leia

          Lance, my husband (and probably our 3-yr-old son) have ADD, so I've read a LOT of stuff about it. (In fact, the more I read about it, the more I think _I_ have the inattentive version!)

          I _think_ I got the stuff about the various brain wave patterns from "The ADD Answer" by Dr. Frank Lawlis (just overlook the fact that Dr. Phil wrote the foreword!).

          Here's an article from ADDitude Magazine:

  • Forrest Long

    Good post and so true. I can remember when I used to be able to stay up until well after midnight and be up by 6am, but not any more. We need to stay in tune with our body's changing needs and adjust accordingly. Sleep is so important.

    • Michael Hyatt

      For years, I could get away with it, too. No more. Sleep is more important than ever for me.

  • @kbeck1

    Excellent post especially the part about problems appearing smaller after a good night's sleep. When I am on the road, I use the TM Soft iPhone app White Noise to lull me to sleep.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I’ll have to check that app.

  • Meryl K Evans

    I do all I can to avoid going to sleep past my bedtime as I know how getting anything less than 7 to 8 hours will affect my day and not in a good way. Staying up that extra hour is just not worth affecting hours of productivity and attitude the next day.

  • Jennifer Davis

    This post is so true! Such simple advice, but I have a hard time following it. I’ve had three kids in three years, so of course, I lacked sleep due to having babies. Now, we’re just getting into a rhythm where I know what time they will wake up. I’ve started getting up an hour before them so that I can read and write, but I’m still getting to bed too late. Thank you for the reminder to take care of myself!

    • Michael Hyatt

      This is so very important for moms. I have watched Gail and my adult girls struggle with this as moms. It starts with giving yourself permission.

  • Andy Wojtowski

    Great post. I find the opposite end of the spectrum also true. If I get more than seven hours of sleep a night my productivity and attitude are not as good as they could be.

    • Kari

      I find that to be true, as well. I practically can't function without 8 hours of sleep, but if I stay in bed much more than that, I wake up feeling more tired than I was the night before.

  • Russ Hersman

    Agreed. My challenge is I travel a lot and regardless of the quality of the hotel, I never sleep soundly in a hotel bed. I tend to see a part of every hour. I use all the darkening and ambient noise tricks. As soon as I am home, I sleep great again. It’s better if my wife is with me on the trip. Unfortunately that is rare. Got any other hotel bed ideas?

    • Michael Hyatt

      Drugs. Seriously. Talk to your doctor. Mine told me that a lack of sleep is far worse to your overall health than occasionally using Ambien or Benedryl.

  • John Richardson

    Great post, Michael. I am a worrier by nature like you. I've found that watching the evening news is a big mistake. There is almost always something bad happening that my mind will latch on to and worry about. I have found a pretty workable solution, If I do wake up in worry mode. I discovered if I start creating a new book chapter in my head that my creative mind takes over my worrying mind. It takes a few minutes, but it almost always works. Sleep comes much easier to the creative mind than the worrying one.
    I've also found that naps can help me recover when I have a late night. They just need to be 20 minutes or less.

    • Michael Hyatt

      That’s a great idea—turning something negative into something positive. I’ll try that next time I am worrying. (In fact, I think I wrote a blog post on that. Need to take my own medicine!)

      • John Richardson

        Yes, I really enjoyed your post on "Worry and imagination: Two sides of the same coin?"

  • Rick Yuzzi

    This really hit home this morning. I've been getting up an hour earlier this week to take my daughter to day camp. I've not done a good job of forcing myself to go to bed earlier. I'm definitely starting to feel it.

  • pete wilson

    Oh mercy. You have no idea how convicting this post is this morning Mike. I'm going to take these words to heart coming from one of the most productive leaders I know! Thank you.

  • Lynn Sebourn

    Thanks for the good reminder. With 3 children and an active civic and professional life this is always a challenge. I especially find it tempting to stay up and “get something done” in the quiet after the wife and kids go to bed.

    Reading a comment above ny engineer’s mind kicked in. How much more productive would I have to be during the day to get back the productivity “lost” by an extra hour’s sleep? Assuming a 16 hour day I only have to do 3 minutes and 45 seconds of work more per hour to allow myself to get to bed 1 hour earlier.

    Seems kind of silly to do anything but go to bed on time when I look at it that way.

    • Michael Hyatt

      It goes back to that old adage that “work expands to the time allotted to it.” Deadlines force you to be more productive.

      Great insight!

  • Megan

    This is an excellent reminder for me. I appreciate it. As the mother of a 6-month-old daughter, a full-time teacher and a full-time grad student, sleep usually falls far down on my priority list. I constantly think: "Well, if I wait until she's in bed, then I can focus on _____ and get it done faster." Instead, I end up losing more sleep than I planned and being off my game the next day. And believe me, 7th and 8th graders know when that happens, and how to use it to their advantage. For me it's making myself remember that I can't get any of my other deadlines done unless my brain gets time to rest.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Amen to that. It becomes a vicious cycle: because we’re not rested, things take twice as long, which means we stay up later. Argh.

  • kinderboost

    Sleep is so important! Just like you mentioned, a lack of sleep causes mini-bouts of depression in me from time to time. I'm going to make a point to follow your guidelines and create more healthy sleep patterns in my own life.

    Incidentally, I believe that the majority of behavior problems in children can be linked to their lack of proper sleep. Think about the behaviors of a typical ADHD kid: moody, restless, unable to focus, insecure. Kind of sounds like you and me after an inadequate night of sleep. You'd be amazed at how many parents tell me they think their kid has ADHD, and when I ask about their sleep habits, they tell some amazing things. Texas Chainsaw Massacre at 11:00 on a school night would cause any third grader to sleep poorly. How do you think they behave the next day?

    I'm no doctor, but this seems like common sense to me.

    • MichaelSGray

      Whoops, I replied using the wrong account.

      I also wanted to ask what plugin you use for your pull quotes. Am I crazy, or is that a new feature on your blog?

  • tarheel810

    Great post Michael. I think that all of us know this but often overlook how important it really is. I found myself feeling the same discouragement last week that you describe and realized that it was from being tired. Thanks for the reminder.

  • stephanieshott

    Getting a good night's rest is obviously a good thing and plays a key role in lives, but I have to say, kudos to Gail for the wisdom to discern what really might be ailing you. "The man who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favor from the Lord." Prov 18:2

  • Chris S.

    Thank you for this reminder, especially the inspirational Psalm 127:2. When my prayers don't seem to be answered, I often think that God wants me to work harder so then I put in more hours, go to bed later, get up earlier, and skip exercise. But when I do these things, progress really doesn't happen any faster. Allowing time for myself to hear God works best. And I can't hear God when I'm very tired.

  • michaelhsmith

    Thanks for the reminder. I had never thought of the similarities of symptoms between being tired and being discouraged. Now to be more sensitive to how my sleep patterns can effect my emotional state.

  • Tim Maurer

    I struggle with chronic migraines, and my sixth new neurologist insists that sleep is the #1 missed recommendation on the part of the medical community. Sure, we've all heard that it's "important," but my doc (Dr. David Buchholz, Johns Hopkins) claims that there isn't a person on the planet who shouldn't be getting 7-9 hours per night to function at optimal productivity.

  • Ali

    This is such a great post for several reasons, and it really resonated with me. I always like when you use verses from Scripture to illustrate your point. You do this in so many of your posts, and I appreciate that you know Scripture well enough to use it in the ways you do. That being said, sleep is very important for me. I am a worrier by nature, and in the evenings the worry gets worse. I think your idea of eliminating negative input before evening is key. Just last night I was talking with a friend about some worries of mine before bed, and I had a terrible time getting to bed. I only slept about four hours last night, and today I feel the effects.

    I started sleeping with earplugs in law school ten years ago, and they have become a necessity for me. In addition, I try to read before I go to bed (preferably fiction), and then when I get in bed, sometimes I will recite the Psalms in my head that I know by heart as I fall asleep. I also do not have a television in my bedroom, and I do not want to get the idea in my mind that I should watch tv in bed. (I actually don't watch much tv at all, but I still don't want to associate my bed with the tv.) And I absolutely must have a dark room.

  • Mark Blake

    You go to bed at 10 PM except on the weekends –

    When I get myself into the habit of going to bed and getting up at a certain time, I never like changing it on the weekends because I feel as though those two nights of staying up slightly later and waking up later in the morning throws me off for the coming week. Do you experience the same thing?

  • ThatGuyKC

    Michael – Great post! Did you read my mind before writing it?

    I'm definitely guilty of the dual burning candle. You really called me on the carpet today and the scripture reference drove it home.

    I'm a hardworking father of two, I'm enrolled in an MBA program and I get up early to workout before heading to the office. On average I get between 4-5 hours of sleep and while I know it's unhealthy I've had a 3:30am-11pm schedule for over a year now.

    With summer upon us and a few weeks of respite from homework am really going to try and get more rest. When I do I'm more productive at work, time at the gym is more effective and I'm mentally/emotionally present at home.

    Thank you.

  • Nick

    Good blog today. But now I'm wishing I could read the blog you would have written if you had said to Gail, "No, I don't think I'm tired. I'm just flat-out discouraged."

  • m_covington

    Helpful post! But what I really want to know, does anyone really sleep with a smile on their face like that? It should have had the guy with his mouth wide open and a puddle of drool, that would have been a much better representation of a good night's sleep!

  • Keith Jennings

    Sleep Deprivation was identified as a "microtrend" in the book by that name. This is something I really struggle with. I love the wee hours. The quiet. The rhythm of the night. I've spent nearly 15 years going to bed around 1-2 a.m. and getting up in the 5-6 a.m. range. At 39 years old, I'm starting to feel it physically, mentally, emotionally, relationally and, yes, spiritually.

    I met Dr. James Maas (author and sleep expert) a few years ago and spent the day driving him around to events. He gave me a stern warning on the long-term effects of my little habit. His book gave me a wake-up call (no pun intended) with science behind it.

    It seems God is on my case about this, because the topic of sleep keeps popping up, like in your post! Thank you for yet another smack on the head with this subject.

    (PS – on a thematically related note, Tony Schwartz's article "The Productivity Paradox" in the June issue of Harvard Business Review is well worth the read.)

    • Beth West

      I love the small hours of the night too!  Even as a 9 and 10 yo I’d stay up till 1 or 2 am reading.  I figure that if I was left to my own devices, my ideal sleeping time frame would be from 3 am to 10 am.  Alas, as a mom of a bunch of early birds I generally sleep from 2 or 3 till 8.  More hours than Keith is getting and it works pretty well for me except for all the guilt I feel because I’m not up by 6.

      For me, part of the issue is that I’m an introvert and I live in a small house with 7 other exuberant extroverts.  When they’re all tucked in and quiet I get to be ALONE!

      This was a great post and the comments have been interesting as well. 

    • Ash

      Great comment. Thanks for sharing.

  • Candace

    Important topic Michael! We sleep like a ROCK. We dvr Dr. Oz and glean most tips from him:

    – 20 minutes of exercise, not close to bedtime.

    – Eat higher % of calories earlier in the day.

    – Drink higher % of water earlier in the day.

    – No carbs after 9pm (carbs intefere with REM which is the deepest restorative sleep).

    – A bedtime protein snack like a few nuts or hardboiled egg (prevents waking in middle of night due to hunger when liver's glycogen stores are simply depleted too early for it to complete restorations)

    – 5-minute massage of head, ears, neck & shoulders while deep slow breathing (neck holds a lot of tension; use a little Jojoba Oil to nourish areas at same time)

    – Persistant lack of sleep can be gallbladder-related (Accupunture can assist; Low-level Lasers now do the same w/o the needles; our Chiropractor uses these lasers and we found the procedure quick & easy.)

  • Ben

    Good post. Another thing I have learned is that I can only do limited amounts of caffeine in a day. If I have to much, my mood swings easily.

    Instead of having a full caffeinated latte in the morning, I cut it to a half-caff and that seems to give me enough energy through the day and I don’t have any issues being tired at night because I haven’t over-caffeinated myself during the day.

  • Cyberquill

    I sleep fine, but my body refuses to sleep at any time other than somewhere between the hours of 4 A.M and 1 P.M. I've tried to re-train system several times, but it always naturally reverts to those hours.

    Placido Domingo (the opera singer) attributes his stamina over all these years and his being unaffected by jet lag despite traveling around the world all the time to the fact that he can fall asleep anywhere at any time. He doesn't need 8 hours in one stretch, but he can break it up to fit his schedule, i.e., sleep two hours between rehearsals, then three hours on a plane, and so on. He just closes his eyes, and five seconds later he's asleep. An admirable quality.

  • Selasee

    You hit the nail right on the head. I ususally spend nights in the office trying to get reports done. However not much is done till the next morning because the brian is already fried and there is little that the it could process.
    Just three days ago during our month end reporting i decided to go home to get rest after a tiring day and it was awsome that all that whcih was bugging me the previous day was solved with ease without thinking. Funny enough these are routines that I do every month. The is a perfect reminder… Good night

  • Wow!

    This is so true… I find that I am most discouraged when I am tired. It is extremely important to get the right amount of sleep.

    I am someone who can worry about little things… I find that I can worry about little things and I can’t go to sleep until they are done…

    * Are you this bad about things? If not, what should I do about it?

  • Grant Hammond

    I pefer to simply take more office naps ;-p

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    HREF="">Never Sleep When Buying Real Estate

  • Lindsey_Nobles

    Love my sleep! I am the same way about caffeine. Can't drink it in the afternoon. Also, I love sleeping in cold room. Getting tired just thinking about it.

  • Ben Forsberg

    I need my sleep and agree, a fan is a must! Also, no caffeine after 6PM and no work after 9PM or I will “stew” on it in bed.

  • Blane Young

    I wish I could honestly say that sleep is unimportant to me, so that my words would match my actions, but I cannot. I always feel more creative and am able to complete tasks quicker if I sleep longer but get up earlier.

    For 99% of my life, I have gotten up to get ready about six minutes before I had to be out the door.

    Thus, margin for success (i.e. not being late, a pet peeve of mine) was about 0.4.

    Thanks for the reminder. Somehow, it feels better to hear it from you than my spouse.

  • BarbL

    I have suffered my whole life from sleep apnea. The problem with apnea is a lack of good quality of sleep. That means getting enough oxygen exchange while sleeping so that I can wake up feeling rested. With sleep apnea a person can sleep 15 hours and wake up feeling exhausted.

    The disability robbed me of a favourite hobby for many years and that is reading.

    Classic symptoms of sleep apnea aren't just snoring. Snoring is the vibration of the tissue in the throat and is very common among people. Sleep apnea is loud snoring followed by a cessation of breathing. Spouses who sleep with someone with untreated apnea often lay awake waiting for their partner to start breathing again.

    It's easily treated with a positive airway pressure machine that blows air to keep the throat from closing off.

    Now I can read again.

  • Christianne

    It's so funny to me that I'm reading this just after having posted a FB status update that says, "It's one of those nights where I can't sleep so I'm catching up on some blog reading."

    Literally, it's one of those seasons where I've bought into the lie that if I just work harder and longer, I am sure to get everything done. This includes depriving myself of sleep because I can't stop thinking of things I need to get done. The thinking and worrying because a deceptive trap to make myself think I'm being productive. In reality, I'm just burning the candle at both ends.

    Thanks for the encouragement to rest!

  • Anna

    So true! I am the same way when tired. Everything looks so bleak.. and I am easily discouraged. Lately, I haven’t gotten the rest that I need, and I really must work on a good sleep schedule.

    Great advice on the negative input. What keeps me up the most is thinking about things, most often negative.

    Two things I can’t do though is sleep in the cold, maybe from growing up in high heat summers with no AC, and I like silence. No fans for me.. unless it’s really hot and there is no AC. :)

    Great post!

  • Joe Tye

    I am a big believer in Neuro-Attitudinal Positioning (NAP). I also like the music of Daniel Kobialka and Gordon Jeffries while drifting off – new age impressions of the classics.

  • Heather Ledeboer

    Thank you for this reminder. I am reading it at 11:30 PM and realizing I need to head to bed:).

  • Laurinda

    I love this post. I need time to unwind before heading to bed. I can't work until 10pm then jump in bed. When I do this I find I'm tossing and turning for a couple of hours while my mind loosens up from the day. I try to make sure I'm home for a couple of hours before bedtime. I like chamomile tea or the like to help relax. If I get in late, I still take an hour or two to relax.

  • Zach Terry

    Totally been there – I recognized the tendancy when I was an itinerate speaker, speaking 3 times some days 6-7 days a week. I was younger then, but we would stay up till after midnight pretty much every night. I also noticed in the camp kids that I would be speaking to. They would be so strung out by the end of the week that they were very suseptible to emotionally driven decisions. I recognized the danger of letting myself get in that same shape. A few things that help me sleep:

    1. Work out HARD
    2. No caffine after 4PM
    3. Keep short accounts with people – no grudge, no guilt (Lord's prayer, "forgive us… as we forgive"

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  • Katie Ganshert

    Oh, what a wise post! It's like you're speaking to my heart today! This week I haven't been very wise in getting sleep. I usually need seven hours to function well, but I've been getting around six. Need to remedy that.

    Thanks for the tips!

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  • Nathan W. Bingham

    A really helpful article Michael. It has taken me a long time to see the need I have for consistent sleep. Without a good night sleep (or a week of interrupted sleep) I simply don't function properly.

    If people are after some "white noise" without wanting to buy the linked track on iTunes, then there is a great site (SimplyNoise) that can generate custom white / pink / brown noise. They also have tracks you can download for free. I often have it looping when I'm working on blog posts / or essays. I've not tried it at night, but may take your tip.

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  • alisa hope

    Brilliant! Sometimes we just need to end the day and go to bed!

    I do the loud fan with my daughter. It dulls the noise of her brothers playing and chatting in their room. I also drink chai tea lattes when I write at night. I should probably change to decaf.

  • Nikole Hahn

    My schedule has been off. I usually get up early, work out, go to work, come home, relax, put in fifteen minutes more of a work out and get to bed on time. This week I've been going to bed late and struggling to get up early. I've been working out, but it's been a struggle instead of a smooth transition. So tonight…I am not staying up late. I'm going to bed on time. Although, caffiene doesn't affect me….yet.

  • Sarah

    Good points in this post. I did a good bit of research in sleep medicine when I was in med school. Not only will sleep affect your productivity, but also many facets of your health! Studies continue to reveal that sleep is important for healthy immune fuction–you're more likely to catch the latest cold or flu without at least 7 hours a night. There's also a good bit of evidence that missing out on sleep increases insulin resistance–leading to a pre-diabetic like state and increased weight gain over time. Yikes!

    Some other good tips to maintian proper sleep hygeine:
    Don't read or watch TV in your bedroom. Especially don't try to do anything work related there. Your mind may have trouble shutting down for sleep.

    If you are having trouble falling asleep–tossing and turning–get up after 20 minutes or so if you haven't been able to fall asleep. Go do something around the house for a few minutes and then try again to fall asleep.

    Don't think alcohol will help you sleep. It decreases REM (restful) sleep, so will actually work against your attempts for a restful night.

  • Luke

    This is such a great article, I often confuse the two (discouragement and fatigue). Despite how easy it should be to keep in check, this is an area I struggle to keep under control, I often stay up late for no reason. It’s good to be reminded to keep sleep as a priority.

  • adam_herod

    I need to rest more, but Miles Davis' "Blue Like Jazz" has been my nightly companion for some time now.

  • Nathan

    I haven't been sleeping great recently and my productivity is definitely way down. Thanks for the reminder. Think I will go to bed early tonight.

  • Theresa haskins

    Oh my gosh, I JUST went through this! This past week/weekend was crazy and by Father's Day I was in a foul mood (and slept most of the day). I finally feel back to normal TODAY (it's Tuesday). Sleep is critical!

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  • Juan

    Hi Mike,
    This is a tough one, difficult for me to accomplish as I always have a need to do something else more, I like caffeine but I also am a A personality. I understand I have to slow down, great tips to avoid caffeine drinks and negative people.
    Also maybe avoid huge-plate dinners.

  • Rocco Capra

    We run a fan. The only down side is that when we travel and there is no fan, we can't sleep!

    Since we're on the sleep topic…What do you think of the "napping at work" that gets talked about?

    • Michael Hyatt

      I have a play list on my laptop that has an “Ambient White Noise” track. It sounds just like a fan. I turn iTunes on repeat, and it plays all night.

      I think napping is great. All the research shows that it boosts productivity. Unfortunately, I don’t practice it very well. Thanks.

  • Brian Hinkley

    I find that I rarely get enough sleep because I work nights and then get up early to send kids off to school. Reading before I go to bed helps me wind down although I probably don't retain as much. I like the weight of a blanket on me even if it is a little warm. The one thing I have not concidered though is avoiding negativity. It is easy to dump a days worth of what the kids did or didn't do on your spouse just before going to bed. It would probably be best in general to just avoid negativity throughout the entire day.

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  • Christopher Scott

    Sleep, it is so important!

    I find that I need an average of about seven hours of sleep a night. I can get back with five or six hours for a few nights in a row, but it starts to get to me after a while. And there is no way I can function on less than 5 hours of sleep. My body just can’t handle it and won’t wake up in the morning.

    My key is to not read in bed. My bed is “my” place to sleep–nothing else. No reading, talking, watching TV, or anything else. Sleep is the only activity that happens in my bed.

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  • Sinea Pies

    Sleep is so important in being on top of my game.  My family has had several very stressful events in the past year.  Two parents’ deaths and the illness of another.  I have found that some days I feel good if I can remember how to get my car to drive to work.  Without a good night’s sleep, I’m finished!  

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  • sleep disorder centers

    This reminds me of a former co-worker who had trouble sleeping. He ignored it so much, his productivity nose-dived and he was let go. If you suffer from a sleeping disorder and value your job, see an expert right away.

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