Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Who needs sleep anyway

Sleep. What a concept. As an entrepreneur it's more rare than cash, and harder to come by.

As Mark Suster wrote in his recent blog post about Entrepreneurshit "It’s 4.50am. Sunday morning. And I couldn’t sleep. I have much on my mind since I just returned from a week on the road. 5 days. 3 cities."

Most nights I lie awake for 2-3 hours in the night. The gerbils running on the treadmills in my mind never stop. Problems. Opportunities. Equations. Spreadsheets. People. Endlessly running.

Until recently I worried about the sleep too. One more thing to add to the list - now let me worry about not getting enough sleep and what's that going to do to me. My health, my ability to be smart and articulate in the big customer summit tomorrow. Aaargh!

But I recently learned that waking in the night is actually one less thing I have to worry about in those waking moments - it's quite normal and may even be our natural sleep pattern.

In the days when we went to bed and got up with the sun, it turns out we would sleep in two sleeps - the first for four hours... then a period awake... and the second sleep for four hours. There's a great description of the research in the BBC News report The myth of the eight-hour sleep. So maybe it all makes sense now. I am supposed to lie awake solving the problems of the day - but I need to get up and make a "hott drinke" as I do my email:

"And at the wakening of your first sleepe You shall have a hott drinke made, And at the wakening of your next sleepe Your sorrowes will have a slake." Early English ballad, Old Robin of Portingale 

And on days like today, when I have had a couple of short nights, and I know YY has had less than 5 hours of sleep after a red eye flight in to NY to join me (for a series of really cool meetings this week) I tell myself we can sleep when we're dead - coffee and adrenalin will pull us through.

And I believe it, until I go away for 3-4 days to a tropical island and end up sleeping 10+ hours a night, every night (something I do a couple of times a year) and then I know all those days when I thought I didn't need to sleep I was kidding myself.

Ah, the necessary self delusion of the entrepreneur.

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