“I’ll sleep when I’m dead” is a mantra I rallied hard around for years.
I equated working harder with success. Any time I hit a wall, I told myself to push harder.
There are times when we need to dig deep and push through. But too often, I assumed this state needed to be my baseline.
Sleep often became the thing I sacrificed to keep pushing myself. I took pride in telling others that I only needed 5-6 hours of sleep and woke up at 3:30AM to begin my daily journey of achievement. I’d secretly judge others who said they wish they could be as disciplined but did nothing as lazy or uncommitted.
For years, I identified this as my superpower. I’d casually drop it into conversation to impress people. My ego LOVED it.
I was arrogant and I was a fool.
I was burning the candle at both ends, not realizing the toll it was taking on my health. I was constantly anxious, overweight and despite my hustling, I’d spin my wheels on projects.
Studies have shown that people who sleep less than 7 hours a night are more likely so suffer from a wide array of health issues – cardiovascular disease, heart attack, depression, and more likely to be overweight, to name a few.
Sleep has a tremendous amount of health benefits, from aiding in recovery, muscle growth and improving cognitive function. If you’re interested in the science behind it, I highly recommend reading Why We Sleep (it has helped me recognize the massive benefits of sleep and I no longer feel guilty about getting a good night’s rest).
When I started with a fitness/nutrition coach two years ago, he was adamant that I commit to getting 7 – 8 hours of sleep a night. It was the antidote I needed to the hustle mentality.
I found that sleeping more actually gave me more focus, lowered my anxiety and helped me drop weight. By doing less and investing in my sleep, I was realizing better long-term results for my health – both physical and mental.
I no longer view sleep as optional – it is a responsibility. Hustle culture is nothing but a toxic lie that’s contributing to our societal decline in health.
As a recovering high-achiever, this has been one of the best lessons I’ve learned over the last couple of years – less can be more. By focusing on sleep, I’ve given myself the space to do less, which surprisingly has given me the ability to be more intentional with my time and accomplish more.
If you’re feeling burnt out, don’t underestimate the power of rest. Sleep is an investment in yourself with the highest ROI.
And if you decide to keep hustling, I won’t judge you for it – I definitely empathize with you. But, I won’t lose any sleep over it – at least not anymore.