Intelligent Sleep Deprivation

I’m a big fan of consistent sleep patterns. It’s easier for me to wake up in the morning, and I feel much better when I’m going to sleep and waking up at the same time everyday.

With that being said I’ve also found that being excessively stubborn with maintaining your sleep schedule can cause you to miss lots of opportunities. Here are my rules for when abandoning your sleep schedule is appropriate.

You’ve made a promise. If you told someone you were going to do something do it. No excuses. In an ideal world you would have finished it earlier, but if you were busy or decided to procrastinate do it now.

You’re working against a deadline. If you’ve got an urgent project that needs to be done for tomorrow do it. Obviously you should have put more effort into last minute panic prevention, but I understand life does get in the way and make it necessary on occasion.

You’ve got a prime opportunity. If you’ve got a good opportunity that you’ll only be able to capitalize on by abandoning your sleep pattern, capitalize on it. For example, I was able to nab an SETT invitation by staying awake an extra hour earlier this year.

That extra hour I spent awake may have made me feel a little drowsy the next day, but the benefits of switching my blog to SETT have made up for it many times over. This is a bit of an extreme example, of course, but the point is you shouldn’t be a slave to your sleep schedule.

When opportunity comes knocking, answer. You’ll have to decide yourself how big an opportunity has to be to stray from your sleep schedule, but the willingness to do so can pay off big time.

Socializing. I used to never go out at night because of my insistence of sticking to a strict sleep schedule. I’ve began loosening up on this over the last few months, however, and it’s been an awesome change.

In addition to giving me more flexibility in my social life, and receiving more invitations, I’ve also had lots of fun and gone on some awesome adventures. Similar to opportunities, this is another area where you have to decide your boundaries.

I’m willing to go out until 10 or 11 if I think something’s going to be a good time, but unless I expect it to be the best night of my life I’m unwilling to stay out past midnight or sleep over at someone’s house. You may have slightly different rules for yourself, but having an idea beforehand of how late you’re willing to stay out is extremely valuable.

You have a long flight or car ride (as a passenger) the next day. When my grandma lived in Arkansas we would drive down and visit her a couple times per year. I used to always deprive myself of a little sleep of the night before so I could sleep in the car.

Back then it was out of boredom, but you can also deprive yourself strategically. If you’ve got a long flight and you know you’re going to be sitting around all day you can wake up an hour or two early and get in your daily exercise before you leave. Alternatively, if you’re working on your social skills you can stay out a bit later the night before.

Intelligent sleep deprivation requires a conscious evaluation of the costs vs benefits of straying from your sleep schedule, but you’ll find that skipping out on a couple hours of sleep is often worth it. I still think maintaining a consistent sleep schedule is both important and beneficial, but I highly encourage you to try experimenting with your own sleep deprivation rules. There’s a lot of benefits to be gained and I guarantee you’ll be glad you did.

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