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Sleep Habits of The Successful

Is it a myth that we need an average of 8 hours sleep a night? The evidence for it does not exist yet it is a widely held belief that we need 7 to 9 hours.

Is there an increased pressure in society now to stop prioritising sleep in order to be productive; with not being well rested actually risking lower quality output?

Is the 24/7 nature of technology putting added anxiety on us causing us to be more reactive for more hours of our day?

Is attempting to attain a goal orientated ambitious lifestyle contributing to our lack of work-life balance? Meaning we are burdening ourselves to cram as much in as we can during potential waking/working hours with crazy routines so that we don’t have to sacrifice any element of what we want in our life.

Many highly successful people manage to go about their lives on very little sleep, which fascinates me as I definitely need a greater than average amount of sleep in order to function at my highest. Still psychologically I seem to feel the stress of fitting so much into working days; maybe through impatience, ambition or being in the self help business I feel I should be making an example. However I seem to find personally that time and time again if I sacrifice my sleep, it often takes me twice as long to do the best work I can.

Perhaps it is not the time asleep but the quality of sleep that matters.

Arnold Schwarzenegger believes that you can’t use lack of time as an excuse for not reaching your goals, he states in this interview that 6 hours sleep is enough and then you have 18 hours left of the day to achieve your goals. I love his line about if you need more than 6 hours sleep…”just sleep faster!”

Sleep is so important for learning, memory, growing muscles, repairing tissue and synthesise hormones so it therefore makes sense that many ailments are caused by lack of sleep, such as:

  • issues with pituitary gland
  • negatively effecting the immune system
  • weight gain through an imbalance of ghrelin and leptin
  • diminishing the libido
  • increasing diabetes risk
  • lowering your mood
  • increasing the risk of heart disease

…to mention a few.

Why is it then that high achievers seem to cope well on so little sleep? Or are they just high functioning insomniacs?

In the sleepless elite we have:

6 hours sleep

Tim Armstrong, CEO of AOL, wakes up at 5:00am aiming for 6 hours of sleep.

Barack Obama sleeps between 1:00am and 7:00am.

5 hours sleep

Jack Dorsey, Twitter founder and Square CEO who at one point said he was spending 10 hours a day at Square and 8 – 10 hours a day at Twitter. So he managed to work 18 – 20 hours on around 5 hours sleep.

Jay Leno is another short sleeper at 5 hours a night.

4 hours sleep

Indra Nooyi, chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, apparently sleeps four hours a night.

Winston Churchill was another four hours a night sleeper.

3 hours sleep

Fashion designer, Tom Ford, reportedly only sleeps 3 hours a night.

So what contributes to this mastery of being awake and productive?

Biochemistry

It is interesting to consider as to how our biochemistry might cause and also react to less sleep actually making individuals function at a higher level.  Increased adrenaline and cortisol levels can actually cause difficulty sleeping but can also increase performance levels.  It was found in those that slept less than the average actually had increased levels of those hormones later in the evening, whereas they’re usually more helpful in the morning to get us up and out and functioning.

Ambition

Another thing that seems to keep and get these short sleepers up is their drive to achieve.  A lot of high achievers have such passion about their mission that they feel an immense amount of responsibility and even restlessness to carry it out at any cost and the one easy thing they can sacrifice to give them more hours in the day is their sleep.  

Naps

Some high achievers find that by having a 20-45 minute afternoon nap can set them up for the rest of their day.  

Genetic

Science appears to have found that 1% of the population are simply resistant to sleep deprivation and thus less sleep simply doesn’t impact their performance.  In some studies it appeared that individuals who fared better on less sleep were not affected by the aptly named CLOCK gene which controls circadian rhythms due to a mutation [Fu 2009].  Further studies seemed to conclude that it was a combination of gene mutations and it was starting to show a hereditary pattern with reports of these less affected individuals sharing these traits with their grandparents and parents [Pack 2012]

So what else do the successful short-sleepers have in common?

Well in my own experience they are surprisingly energetic, ambitious, positive and optimistic.  This could be mindset or through their genetic mutations.  They also however seem to stick to a routine.

If they manage to avoid their performance suffering and have 4 extra hours in the day than the rest of us, teamed with incredible drive and ambition, then it follows that this combination can lead to huge achievements.

It seems as though there is no one size fits all however and we need to experiment with what works for us.  Keeping  a routine, ignoring extreme advice and not having any expectations as to what you need in terms of hours is a great start.    The more psychological pressure we put on ourselves, the more we can indeed hinder our own progress in so many different areas and cause ourself inefficiency.

We need to remember that success is not just defined by having more hours in the day but in having the following skills:

  • logic
  • problem solving
  • creativity
  • strategy
  • focus
  • willpower
  • emotional control
  • persuasiveness
  • empath
  • social skills
  • ability to learn
  • memory 
  • knowledge

Also remember that all our definitions of success differ.

Your idea of success may be having more time to play with your children, earning more money, having the freedom to travel more or being able to provide more jobs for your community rather than being a non-sleeping high-flying CEO!

Always remember that a coach can help you achieve your version of success, unlocking the answers and abilities that lie within you, without you having to radically change your sleep schedule! For a crash course to achieving your goals check out my new innovative course here.

 

Shawn Achor: The Happy Secret to Better Work

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This is one of the best TED Talks I have seen since the one about procrastination!

 

I laughed out loud walking across town watching it today.  Incredible man, amazing outlook and brilliant innovative groundbreaking work.

 

We believe we should work hard in order to be happy, but could we be thinking about things backwards? In this fast-moving and very funny talk, psychologist Shawn Achor argues that, actually, happiness inspires us to be more productive.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row]

What are Nootropics?

Ok so after I had finished breastfeeding my daughter at around 18 months I still had the new baby brain fog so I looked into what could help me get my sharpness and any kind of shard of intellect back after being unable to even accomplish tasks like letter writing.

I had baby brain, BAD!

Then I found nootropics!

Finding nootropics opened up a whole world of brain hacking, biohacking and life hacking and I found the AMAZING Tim Ferris who I adore with every fibre of my being.

So before I go off on a wild tangent about that part of my life journey, what on earth are nootropics?

Nootropics aka smart drugs and cognitive enhancers, are drugs, supplements, and other substances that improve cognitive function, particularly executive functions, memory, creativity, or motivation, in and I stress HEALTHY INDIVIDUALS! Underlying mental and physical health problems need to be addressed before you can reap the benefits of full brain potential with these amazing substances.

Now before you start thinking I’m a grade A drug user, I use organic natural supplements, my favourite of which are FourSigmatic Mushroom Coffees.

Have a problem, there is always a solution, you just have to look for it!

Significance of a 40 Day Commitment

There is a long held belief that the period of 40 days is significant and I explored where this has come from and the science behind it.  The philosophy is that it takes 20 days to break a bad habit and then 20 days to create a positive habit to replace the space where the bad habit was.

I have found that forty days has sacred relevance throughout many belief systems and cultures.  In Judaism, there’s a mystical practice that says one who seeks an answer to their prayers should pray the same prayer request for 40 consecutive days.  Forty days also has significance for Christians who fast for 40 days during Lent. Moses (or Musa  depending on your religion) spent 40 days on Mount Sinai where he received the 10 commandments.  In the Hindu system some of the popular fasting periods consist of 40 days and in China and in many other cultures a new mother is confined to her home for 40 days after she has given birth.  With Kundalini yoga you practice for 40 consecutive days to make or break habits.

Delving into psychology, researchers have found that personality can be changed through handwriting exercises over a period of 40 days.  These positive self affirmations realign the neurological patterns in the brain known as “cortical remapping” and can create lasting positive change.  Physiologically, some of our organs’ cells regenerate themselves around the 40 day mark including skin, lungs, bladder and liver.

I am amazed at what I have found out and I have created something really special for my clients to make a lasting transformation in their lives over a 40 day period and I am excited to be able to share my new coaching program with everyone this summer.  For more details follow this link.

Why Consistent Parenting is so Important

It was a harsh morning one wintery day last week in Parentsville. Why does parenting feel so darned guilty so often?

This particular morning was a SNOW DAY! Oh the excitement of playing in the snow…on the proviso that my four year old daughter got her cardigan and coat on. Well the cardigan took an argument and 30 minutes then the coat was point blank  refusal and melt down.

Time for snow antics before school was running out and I had to say ‘no’ to playing out in the snow, explained to my daughter why and proceeded to feel crap and guilty for the rest of the day.  Plus I felt so sad missing out making snow memories with my daughter.

So why is consistency and giving your child clearly defined boundaries important?

Here are the 4 main reasons to maintain consistency:

1) Our children will stop trusting us. If our word is our bond, and we then don’t stick to our word, where is the trust?  If our children cannot trust us to do what we say and say what we mean then they stop believing us and ultimately stop listening to us.

2) Our children will lack confidence. Children need boundaries, boundaries show that we are fair and we care. Boundaries are there for a reason because without them we cannot care for them properly and it builds their self-confidence to know that we have their back even if it frustrates them to not get their own way despite pushing boundaries.

3) We set our children up for failure. There will come a time when another authority figure or mentor outside of the family hands down a punishment and actually follows through. If our child is told that if they turn up for work late again they will get fired, but we have conditioned them over the years that these are empty threats, then they will likely turn up late and be fired.  If excellence is demanded of them in sports and yet they don’t take it seriously, they will not reach their full potential.  We build those building blocks for them every day.

4) We will lose our children’s respect. We slowly lose our authority and respect when we are inconsistent.  Constantly letting our children call the shots, or failing to give them natural consequences to their actions, gives them power and control that they are not equipped to deal with and it teaches them the wrong lessons of how to get ahead in life.  Being a leader in the household means being consistent and as parents we need to be strong confident leaders of our successful little household team.

Knowing this gives us the confidence as parents to do the right things for our children rather than the easy things emotionally short term, which can cause both parents and children problems long term.

After my daughter finished school that day, with our hats and coats both on we proceeded to go play in what was left of the snow, get some her favourite snacks and some hot tea in a lovely small local independant cafe.  She did not mention our fall our in the morning once.  My guilt dissolved in making good memories later that day.

Being a firm but fair parent and leader is definitely nothing to feel guilty about.