I've been trying to sleep less, ideally between 4 and 7 hours a night. It's amazing when you get 20 hours in a day - it's almost like two distinctively different days. I feel twice as alive as when sleeping 8, 10, or 12 hours.
I'm still adjusting to it, though. Often I'm slower immediately upon waking up, which is not great, but not terrible. The way I start my day is by stretching and going for a walk or otherwise exercising, then eating some simple food, and having a shower. That first hour or two comes pretty automatically.
But then, I find my energy waxes and wanes more when on lower sleep. I actually feel more alert during my peak moments when sleeping less, but then I hit a low patch of exhaustion for 20 minutes to an hour every so often. During this time, my mind is mostly empty and scrambled.
The danger is that it's easy to get into some mindless clicking around at that point, and get stuck in click-click-click-click online for the next few hours. Normally when my mind is foggy, I like to do really low level admin that doesn't require thought: Reply to routine emails, clean something, things like that. Right now, though, it was a little frustrating, because I have basically no low level tasks to be done. Inbox is pretty much empty, no errands to run, my things are generally clean and orderly. So I was starting to click-click-click mindlessly.
I mixed some instant coffee and went outside. I'm staying on top of Mount Davis on Hong Kong Island, and lightning was striking across the water on the Kowloon Peninsula. So I sat out there watching the lightning strike again and again.
And I think, ah, if we have even a breath of life, then we're incredibly wealthy. Any man can breathe in the air, or look at the sky, or look at the ground, and observe the color. He can smile, or flex and stretch, and sit or stand. This is incredible wealth. Life.
And I remember that it will end sometime, and it's not sad, it's actually rather pleasant. There will be a time when I never seen a lightning strike again. Things are in perspective. Life is precious. Go spend the time I do have doing something the matters.
I nod to the lightning. Time to head inside to plan, build, produce, and serve. We do not have so much time in this life. It is fitting to spend it doing things that matter.
Thanks for this post Sebastian. I know that this post is now over a year old for you and it probably doesn't resonate with you as closely as it once did. Nevertheless, I got a lot from it. TIME IS SO FUCKING SHORT. I'm not sure if it's good to constantly realize this, but you've certainly making me think about it.
From a reader -
Just a thought - You probably get several requests for advice, inputs etc. Do you not get overwhelmed?
Indeed, my email/people contacting me volume has gone up massively a lot. Like, a whole lot.
Do I get overwhelmed? Well, I reckon there's two things people usually call "overwhelmed" -
1. A short term overwhelmed feeling, like when you've got to do 6 hours of things, but you've got a flight in 3 hours.
I think that some might be surprised to hear how much I sleep and how important it is to me. I average right around eight hours per day (tracked for a few months), and prioritize sleep very strongly, even over most work.
Once ten pm comes around, I have four options for things I'm allowed to do: I can play violin, read a book, work, or sleep. Computer is off at midnight every day, at which point I usually read for an hour or two, and then go to sleep.
The other night I was tired at ten, but I was really excited about my work so I tried to push through and keep at it. I was stuck trying to fix something, but I managed to try five or ten solutions out before getting in bed. At the time, it felt like a good choice.
I woke up the next morning, took one look at the code, and spotted the solution instantly. Within five minutes it was fixed. Once is a fluke, but I've noticed this pattern over and over again with work when I'm tired-- it feels like I'm working, but often I'm just spinning my wheels.