Despite all the pop culture stories of famous entrepreneurs and elite performers running on four hours of sleep a night, those who have achieved peak performance and sustainability prioritize their sleep.
They are aware of the biology of sleep and its necessity to attain their highest levels of performance. Whether you are engaged in intellectual or physical pursuits, mastering rest and sleep is key to reaching a high level of performance.
The Two Most Critical Components
The primary association with sleep and performance is due to both REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep and hormone release. During sleep, you cycle through various sleep stages, such as REM and deep sleep. You also experience different brainwave states: alpha, theta, and delta.
The CEO who brags about four-hours of sleep is not working very smart.
REM sleep is crucial for integrating new information and skills into your long-term memory. You can spend all day acquiring data, but if you don’t get adequate REM sleep what you have accumulated will not be transferred into long-term memory. It will be like pouring water over a jar with a lid on.
“Think of the times when you are awaking from a dream-like state and have a sudden epiphany.”
Sleep Allows Increases Neural Connections
In addition, REM sleep helps us process emotional information and make sense of our emotions. We are in a theta wave state during REM sleep. Our implicit system, or subconscious, is most activated in this state allowing for insights and neural connections to be made that our explicit, or conscious system is incapable of making. Think of the times when you are awaking from a dream-like state and have a sudden epiphany.
During deep sleep, our brain releases testosterone and human growth hormone (HGH). With every sleep cycle, you receive more of these hormones, which are essential for cellular repair and muscle growth.
How to Increase Your Sleep Quality
Once you understand these processes, you see how essential sleep is to emotional, physical, and intellectual growth; it is highly productive. The CEO who brags about four-hours of sleep is not working very smart. In regard to sleep, there is a strong correlation between quantity and quality. Of course, sleep quality matters, and there are numerous things you can do to increase the quality of sleep:
- Avoiding blue light
- Terminating caffeine use at least six hours prior to bedtime
- Removing any light sources
- Keeping the room cool – Optimal sleep temperature is between 62 to 68 degrees
- Removing television and any work-related items from your bedroom
Athletes from various Olympians to Tom Brady and Pete Sampras stress the importance of sleep to their success. Don’t buy into the myth that grinding away without proper rest will lead to high performance. Remember, Stress + Rest equals growth. Furthermore, the key is to work both smart and hard.