BEFORE you read any further; answer that question for yourself without being swayed by this article. This will allow you to reflect back on your uninfluenced answer after reading the rest of this article.
Done it? Great, read on...
I saw this question in a Facebook group recently and it led to some thoughts I think are worth sharing. The first thing I noticed were the answers coming in from people. They didn't really sit right with me for a variety of reasons, which I'll share below, and my answer was different from all the others, up to that point. Here are my thoughts on the question and why it may be a really useful question to ask yourself.
Don't let sleep stop you living.
I noticed that the first lot of answers that came in were people talking about things they really wanted to do in life but "didn't have time for". I can tell you now that sleep is NOT the reason that they were not doing these things. There's a very strong inclination to believe that having more hours in the day would lead to having more time to do the things you 'really' want to do. The reality that I see is that it just gives people more time to either procrastinate or otherwise fill their time with the things they already feel they do too much of.
Having more time is not the same as leveraging your time better. If there's something you would love to do more of, or if there's something you would start doing if you didn't need sleep and had that extra time available every day -- DO IT. Don't wait until you have more time. Don't lose out on sleep for it. Find a way to fit it in and make it work for you.
Maybe you're reading this and thinking "it's okay for you..." Well, yeah. It IS okay for me because I've made it that way. If I want to prioritise spending more time with my family then I know that means streamlining my business processes, outsourcing/hiring or potentially sacrificing something else. Am I completely there yet? No not at all, I still have a long way to go but I'm so much closer than I was before I decided to work for myself, and even than it was just one year ago.
Sometimes I have had to make sacrifices in order to get to this point but very rarely is that I sacrifice sleep. Becoming more efficient with my time has the biggest impact by far on how much of my time I get to spend on things other than my work or chores. So what one thing has for me, enabled me to improve my productivity, use my time better and enjoy doing it more?
SLEEP. When I am well rested I am more productive, happier and better able to focus.
You Sleep Better When You're Happy
If your answer involved doing more of something that makes you happy, more time spent on you and your self care, or more time to pursue new hobbies then this section is even more important.
Sleep quality has been shown to improve in line with levels of happiness. If you put off the things that could make you happy, that in itself, could have a negative impact on your sleep, creating a cycle where you have less energy and clarity to pursue your dreams. Don't wait for someone else to give you permission to start doing more of what you love. The benefits may be even greater than you imagine.
What would I do if I didn't need sleep? I'd sleep anyway.
Maybe that sounds like a cop-out answer to evade the question but given more thought it really is the best option I can think of.
Sleep isn't just something I do because I 'need' to. It's something I do because doing it well has such a positive impact on so many aspects of my wellbeing.
Spending around a third of my day allowing my body to heal, and my brain to cleanse, sounds like a great idea. During sleep, the protein that builds up within the brain is effectively 'washed away', your body is allowed to rest, and your cells to heal. It improves memory, focus and concentration, mood, health (physical and mental), and so much more.
When you consider how little effort it takes, and just how many benefits there are, wouldn't you choose to do it anyway even if you didn't need to?