Forget the sunscreen song and focus on sleeping

Topic: the importance of sleep, not a bug but a feature

Length: short (3 minutes?)

Style: a friendly neighborhood spider reminder

Conclusion: Sleep forms the basis of the sleep-nutrition-physical health pyramid of power that’s a prerequisite for long term satisfaction and meaning of life, a.k.a. the Curiosity-Pattern recognition-Creativity-Perspective-Prediction-Procreation word cloud of True Purpose.

Bonus: my old article on how to cure Restless Legs Syndrome, a.k.a. Willis-Ekbom’s Disease (link to article)

What’s more important?








It’s sleep

I recently wrote (link) about the meaning of life being perspective — a good enough perspective to learn, to appreciate, to experience and gain even more perspective, in order to predict, plan and procreate for an ever more comprehensive perspective, and so on.

I followed up (link) with a practical tip on how to gain that perspective through alternating exertion and recuperation.

Today, I’m taking the final step down Maslow’s hierarchy of needs — all the way down to sleeping.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future,

sunscreen sleep would be it

Do you sleep too little?

-The answer is probably yes, and you already know why:

  • You look at screens all day, from within minutes of waking up to within minutes of going to bed.
  • You sit all day. Indoors.
  • You eat processed food.
  • You drink more coffee and alcohol than you should, not to mention too late in the day (or night)

How would you know if you sleep too little?

That’s pretty easy:

  • Do you need an alarm to wake up?
  • Do you need coffee to wake up?

If so, you sleep too little.

What are some of the immediate dangers?

(see my previous articles below for more details)

Well, the worst side-effect of sleep deprivation is that it tends to lead you into behavior that will make you sleep even less. For example, it might make you drink more coffee and alcohol not to mention trying other kinds of medication. Most people also work out less and eat more junk when sleep-deprived, which both adversely affects the length and quality of sleep.

You’ll do just fine without, e.g., food for several weeks, but you’ll most likely go crazy or even die from sleep deprivation long before starving to death. That’s however not what I’m getting at. It’s more subtle and goes straight from the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy to the very top.

If you sleep enough, you’ll be more energetic, more creative, more ready and able to learn new things, better prepared to appreciate and assimilate new perspectives and so on. Enough sleep is the basis for every part of the Meaning Of Life word cloud:

Sure, the odd all-nighter here and there can actually add to your perspective, but going weeks on end with less than 6 hours a night isn’t good for anybody. And what’s it for anyway if you can’t appreciate the fruits of your labor due to being exhausted?

Aim for 8 hours of sleep per 24-hour cycle and make small changes in either direction until you find your optimum. Once you have no trouble falling asleep within 10 minutes of going to bed, and wake up well rested without an alarm you’re right on the money. Remember to hold off on the coffee for 1-2 hours after rising in the morning. Keep that schedule on weekends and vacations too if you can, and you’ll notice how your capacity for appreciation and innovation expands noticeably.

Conclusion: sleeping isn’t just for staying alive, it’s for living life

Sometimes it might seem as if we’re supposed to just barely take care of our physiological needs with 6 hours of sleep, polluted air, bleach-tasting tap water, junk food in the back of a car between job meetings, and so on, and still hope to reach peaks of self-actualization and transcendence. Good luck with that! What happens is everybody races to get “rich” while feeling like crap and just hoping it’ll be over soon.

NB: as little as one night of poor sleep lowers your immune defense system significantly. In addition sleep deficiency causes a stress response and inflammation that is thought to have a pathway to depression.

The key is to pay very good attention to the basics. Bliss is a side effect.

Sleep well and almost everything else lines up automatically, including better food and more energy for staying healthy. The triangle of power SLEEP-FOOD-BODY then acts as a force multiplier for your ability to LEARN, to be CREATIVE, to ADAPT, to stay CURIOUS, all of which are necessary, and probably enough as well, to become both HAPPY and SUCCESSFUL.

Again, sleep is not a bug, it’s a feature. It’s not something to take lightly and be done with as quickly as possibly. Instead, plan for sleep, enjoy it, take care of it as if it were a puppy or your baby.

Remember where you read this article (, and tag a friend who sleeps too little.

Two of my previous articles on sleep

Why you should plan for sleep all day – and how

The 4-hour sleep schedule for highly effective and successful people

Mentally and physically challenged for the future

Topic: How to lead a good life

Conclusion: Do some work, not too much, then rest

I think my entire life philosophy can be boiled down to this one soundbyte:

Extertion And Recuperation

The key get anywhere, as well as maximize enjoyment, is to challenge oneself and then get some rest. You need to regularly go just outside your comfort zone mentally and physically, stay there for some time, and then recover.

That’s how mankind evolved. That’s probably why we spend one third of our life sleeping. That’s what’s been proven to work for bodybuilders and intellectuals alike.

You should try it.

I recently wrote a more complicated post on the meaning of life here. It dealt with more abstract notions of perspective and productivity. Those are of course very important, but if I don’t get as many words, then I’d put it all down to first making sure you are tired from some sort of strenuous activity and then getting your well-earned, high quality rest.

  • Fast, then eat
  • Lift weights or run, then rest
  • Learn something new, a physical skill or a difficult and complex theoretical subject. Then sleep on it (I’ll write more about sleep in a coming post)
  • Read a book, solve a mathematics problem, then meditate (or sleep)

It really doesn’t have to be more complicated than that. The exact form of challenge and rest can and should vary. What’s more important is the principle in itself:

Strain yourself at least a little, but not for unnecessarily long, and remember to recuperate

Don’t do this at home

What you shouldn’t do is working yourself to the ground, never setting aside time for re-building the resources you use up during certain frantic periods. What you shouldn’t do either is never doing something new and challenging. The latter would definitely put you in the loser camp of lost causes.

Practical tip – record your Exertion and Recuperation

Keep a notepad, whiteboard or something to that effect and make sure you get two marks every day: One for the day’s challenge and one for the day’s quality rest (once going the extra mile or minute becomes a true habit you can stop recording)

Remember where you found this article, and don’t hesitate to share it and to subscribe to my free newsletter (and get my book for free, which I will soon stop giving away)

The covfefe lemma: How to choose between Time and Money

Topic: The covfefe choice between time and money

Summary: no 25-year old would trade places with Warren Buffet, but where does one draw the line?

Inspired by an interview in Framgångspodden, and several articles and tweets by Wall Street Playboys, here are some of my thoughts regarding time, money, retirement and the meaning of life.

I was 42* when I retired with an 8-figure net worth in US dollars. 42. By then I had read the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy more or less once a year since I was 18. So, 24 times, give or take. 42 backwards**.

*actually I said the magic words a few days before my 42nd birthday, but I stayed on a while longer as just the Managing Director without any portfolio management responsibilities, thus retiring at the age of 42.

**”42″ referring to Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy as The Answer

Time isn’t money; time is covfefe everything

Life Utility Function: Optimize your amount of quality time

Quality time: Time spent doing what you want, what’s rewarding, what’s meaningful, what doesn’t subtract too much from your health account, or -if possible- what adds to your life span without being too tedious.

There are a few minor snags here. For one, I don’t know when my life will end (accidents, genetics, technological breakthroughs, lifestyle). Second, I don’t know what my current wealth will afford me in the future (return on capital, money paradigm, war, disrupted status quo).

Did I say “minor” snags? I meant major. In effect, it’s impossible to make any useful predictions so any solution will be highly subjective. Here is mine:

Choose something interesting to do; the most interesting and worthwhile undertaking you can think of for both you and others. If chosen wisely you will optimize your income, while still enjoying yourself and feeling relevant.

If your line of work is weighted more toward making money than being truly rewarding, quit (at the latest, but typically sooner) when you have 5-10x the amount you think would sustain your lifestyle for the rest of your life given a status quo economic system.

Why 5-10x?

Because once you have 1-2x, increasing that by 2-4x  only means keeping your momentum going for another 5-10 years or so (less time left means you don’t need 5-10x the 1x amount from 10 years earlier), and that extra buffer can make all the difference once you get off the machine (in case it proves difficult to get back on).

With 1x you have no disaster buffer. With 2x you can support one other person if needed, but still no buffer. With 4x you can diversify your assets between, e.g., stocks, bonds, gold etc., and still be okay even if war strikes, stocks crash, the money paradigm changes, or similar non-linear changes take place. With 8x you can do the same for one more person that lacks funds.

I’m not at all advocating aiming for 5-10x the wealth you need, I’m saying any sane person should stop making money at that point, unless it’s the most meaningful use of their time they can think of.

It’s my time now

When I was studying or working I had basically no time of my own. It all went to following orders or templates, going to meetings and doing things for others… for money. I didn’t read a single piece of fiction for years during that time. At first I did it because everybody did it. Then I did it for the money and to prove something. Eventually I did it out of loyalty (and maybe, by the very end, a little greed and/or homeostasis). Owing to growing tired of my Ferrari and Lamborghini, as well as a very disappointing test drive of an Itama 55, I realized I didn’t care for stuff. I realized sleep, health and my time (which are all facets of the same underlying concept) were what I valued the most.

I’m not interested in clothes, cars, watches, boats or conspicuous real estate. I simply enjoy making my time meaningful, which for me entails reading books, listening to podcasts, talking to interesting people, learning, writing, playing with my dog, and occasionally using my body for something breathtaking, for exercise, for partying our dining out with friends.

That’s basically it.

I really don’t need more than 30k USD a year (including the condominium fee), or let’s say 1m USD at 3% yearly interest, to sustain my lifestyle. Thus 10m is plenty — in particular assuming I can get more than a 3% return on average over a very long time, not to mention slowly chipping away at the capital.

However, if you can’t reasonably quickly get to several times the wealth you would need for your desired lifestyle, you should focus on optimizing your quality time right away.

The College-Buffett covfefe equation

Unless you’re mentally ill, are afflicted by an extremely expensive disease, covfefe, or very, very poor, if you’re in your college years you would never trade places with Warren Buffet, despite his 100 billion dollars to his name (74bn, according to Forbes). The reason for that of course is that he’s turning 87 this year and most likely doesn’t have more than a few years left to live.

Where do you draw the line?

Would you trade being 25 with 10k, 100k, 1m to your name for being 45 with 2m, 5m, 10m? How much are your 20s worth? Your 30s? Your 40s? Your 50s? What if you were 90 years old and about to die; how much would just 1 more day of quality life (as if you were 25 again) be worth? 1 million, 1 billion? The answer is, I hope: all the money you could ever scrape together no matter the amount.

I’m fully aware we all have different utility functions, and some are hopelessly stuck in a kind of competitive KUWTJ mode (Keeping Up With The Joneses, i.e., trying to outdo your peers for no other reason than outdoing them). It doesn’t necessarily make their lives less enjoyable and meaningful. They might get just as much serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin as I do (though I doubt it). What’s important is to think about it, really think about it, and optimize along the right parameters, rather than merely living reactively and driven by homeostasis.

Is it really worth it, slaving away with something you don’t care for, in order to fit in, in order to buy better suits (for the work you don’t like anyway), a better car (to show off for “friends”, neighbors and clients) etc.? Have you thought it through? Have you compared the years you’re giving away to others for the (few) years you leave for yourself later on when you’re older and less agile?

An eye for an eye, a year for a year

Who’s that extra year for? Who’s that extra wealth for? If you’re proving something (like I did), or seeking revenge for a poor or unjust upbringing, for whom are you doing it?

I’m not saying “skip college”, “drop out”, “quit your day job” to hitchhike around the globe, living hand to mouth. I’m asking you to make an informed choice between spending one more year doing what you’re doing (mostly for others rather than for yourself), and using that year for something you really like, and would do without having to tell others about it.

I had the luxury to come into enough wealth reasonably young without even thinking about it. I also had the luck of understanding the choice outlined above and quit in time. I understand the lure of riches, luxury and conspicuous consumption, and how difficult it is to fathom their uselessness unless you’ve experienced it yourself. Thus, I urge you to try it if you think you want it, but I’m also asking you to make an effort to back out quickly once you realize time, action and community are more important than stuff and theatricals. In the coming era of automation and cheap energy, material wealth could soon become moot anyway, as Peter Diamandis alluded to here:

“The son or daughter of a billionaire in New York, or the son or daughter of the poorest farmer in Kenya, is going to have access to the same level of education delivered by an AI, the same level of healthcare delivered by an AI, or intervention delivered by a robot. So, we’re going to start to demonetize all the things we think of as the higher stakes of living,” he said.

Summary: the covfefe lemma

So, at what extra unit of material wealth vs. one less unit of time do you draw the line? Where is your so called covfefe point, where you wouldn’t trade more time for the amount of dollars you can add per unit of time?

Would you trade going from 35 to 40 years old for going from 5 million to 12 million? From 40 to 60 years for going from 12m to a billion? Try making a chart with your NWE vs. age for all ages 15 to 100. The amounts should be such that you on balance wouldn’t, or just barely would, want to skip forward 5 years to get to the new Net Worth level.

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