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

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4 Replies to “Forget the sunscreen song and focus on sleeping”

  1. I’ve known several people who experimented with one or another “I don’t really need to sleep” theory, but none who benefited from or was able to sustain the “alternative” schedule.

    In the tropical environment in which homo sapiens evolved, 11 or so hours of darkness every night was the norm. Why people can get by with /only/ eight hours of sleep is a bit of a mystery, because apes don’t stay up to midnight watching “Olduvai’s Got Talent”.

    Other than the constant pressure to do more stuff now now now now now now I see some behavioral reasons why people stay up late (knowing they have to get up early). Obviously Internet and TV are designed to be addictive and help people to not sleep, but beyond that, there is the way children are conditioned:

    1. Staying up late is a reward.
    2. Going to bed early is a punishment.
    3. Sleeping in is a reward.
    4. Getting up early has generally negative associations (going to school).
    5. Time in the evening, especially staying up late, is typically precious time outside of direct adult control. Children spend most of their time being scrutinized and ordered around, of course they value any unsupervised time. Maybe this is also why kids don’t play outside anymore; paranoid parents won’t let them the hell alone. But they’ll ignore them while they watch TV or play videogames at 22:00.

    1. You touched on some interesting points with regards to the lifestyle of children. Thanks for sharing something to think about!

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