Sleep: Why its important & How To Hack Sleeping Peacefully

Sleep is often something that just happens. We do it every day and then we do it again the next day. On my search for ways to improve productivity I wondered if there was a way I could improve the quality of my sleep. If I could improve the quality of my sleep perhaps I would need less of it so I hoped it would be a win win result. At an event I attended I heard a talk about the effects of wi-fi on sleep. That night I went home, switched off the router and slept through the night for the first time in ages. It’s something I have continued with ever since. Sleep is such a important part of what makes us productive and effective. A great resource to learn more about the benefits of sleep is the book Thrive by Arianna Huffington is a great book. Arianna collapsed at work through exhaustion and the book tells the story of her education about sleep and sleep quality. As a natural owl I always found it hard to go to sleep. Left to my own devices I would be doing my housework at 4am, going to bed and getting up somewhere around 11am – something that happened regularly. No matter how much sleep I got it was never enough. Then I started thinking about quality rather than quantity. The first thing I did was to change my bedroom. I took out the DVD player where I used to watch films in bed. I stopped myself from taking the laptop up to bed and doing work. I fitted a blackout blind, invested in a new mattress and topper and new bed linen. I made my bedroom a little haven of peace and tranqulity. I switched the wi-fi off using a timer so it came back on automatically in the morning. The result was less sleep – from 10 hours to 8 hours and no exhaustion. I can’t remember the last time my nephew came in on a weekend morning and I rang for some childminding help. Infact he regularly comes in and I am already awake reading a book so as not to disturb him. Recently I have enhanced this technique further. As an avid reader and learner I generally have a pile of books to work through – all non fiction as I am always learning about something or other. Having read about the benefits of fiction in aiding a good nights sleep I headed right out of my comfort zone and to the fiction section of the library. I can report that after reading fiction instead of non-fiction I slept blissfully for 7.5 hours and woke up feeling refreshed. Having read all this you are probably feeling a bit sceptical. I know I was when I started looking at sleep initially. Well don’t take my word for it. Have a look at this fantastic TED Talk from Arianna Huffington about sleep. It’s aimed particularly at women but most of it is suitable for anyone. Questions to think about it: How do you feel after a night’s sleep at present? On a scale of 1-10 how interested are you on trying to improve your sleep? What steps/actions could you take to improve your sleep? Of those steps or actions which one is the easiest/quickest to implement? On what day next week will you implement this step?


Here is a step by step guide in how to put all these techniques into practice;
  1. Spend a week gathering intelligence and information using the time tracker, energy tracker and RescueTime if you are planning using it.
  2. Schedule a half day to for focussed working – ideally in the morning.
  3. Take steps to protect this focussed working time – let colleagues and family know.
  4. Schedule time in your diary before this focussed working time to get set up and ready – ideally the night before.
  5. Schedule some time in for a break immediately after your focussed working and protect this as fiercely as you do the focussed working time itself.
  6. Choose a day that’s best for any meetings and keep this as an out day and schedule 1 other day as an “in” day.
  7. Look at what activities you can batch together and try this technique for one day and then review.
  8. Pick one night to set yourself up for a great night’s sleep by implementing the tips in the sleep section of this program.
  9. At the end of the week review your productivity.
  10. Decide what techniques you are going to repeat and schedule in for the following week.

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