What if you knew for sure that something we all pretty much ignore all the time, that we take for granted, could make all the difference in your productivity, your profitability and the speed in which you meet or exceed your goals? I wanted to get find out just how important sleep is, not just from a ‘yea, duh, of course we all need more sleep’, aspect, but with some real research behind it, so we could help all of our clients with this as well as our podcast listeners!

Mathew Walker, Ph.D., and his book Why We Sleep offered both an amazing and enlightening read. Humans are not actually sleeping the way nature intended. In fact, I love how he explains this so succinctly:

· “Scientists have discovered a revolutionary new treatment that makes you live longer. It enhances your memory and makes you more creative. It makes you look more attractive. It keeps you slim and lowers food cravings. It protects you from cancer and dementia. It wards off colds and the flu. It lowers your risk of heart attacks and stroke, not to mention diabetes. You’ll even feel happier, less depressed, and less anxious. Are you interested?” (Yes, it’s sleep!) (p. 107)

That’s right, SLEEP is the ‘revolutionary new treatment’! How many agents, brokers, salespeople who you know (and it may be YOU), go around saying things like, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead… I don’t need more than 5 or 6 hours a night!” It’s almost a badge of honor amongst the most successful among us.

I’ll never forget a closing I went to (in the Eastern half of the country, you attend ‘round table closings’ where everyone is there; you, your client, the other agent, their client, title / closing agent and sometimes even the loan officer). At this closing, I remember that the other agent came blustering in, 15 minutes late, with her hair disheveled, her file folder all messed up and her shirt un-tucked like she just got out of the bathroom or something. Her client looked at her with a bit of annoyance on his face, and she made it worse by saying, “I’m so sorry I’m late guys, I had to stop for lunch on the way – I haven’t eaten in a couple days or slept for a while, I’ve been sooo busy!”

Now I’m sure in her mind this was supposed to reinforce that she was professional, with lots of happy clients, but that’s not how it came off. I thought to myself, “I wonder if I sound like this sometimes too…after all, we do order a pizza after a long day of chasing deals, I’m at least 10 pounds overweight and I certainly don’t follow any sort of sleep regimen!”

In fact, the agent I was referring to actually was and still is a great broker, who actually DOES have happy clients and a great reputation, but I wonder about the toll that the lifestyle has had on her, as well as many of you…

All this leads me to share with you some facts from Dr. Mathew Walker’s book, Why We Sleep. The facts he discovered through his research effect nearly every one of you reading this, so check this out:

· Studies have shown that mortality from heart disease increased between 37-60+% when napping was eliminated in healthy (p. 70)

· Sleep before learning refreshes our ability to initially make new memories. Sleep after learning effectively clicks the “save” button on the newly acquired information. (p. 108)

· Practice does not make perfect. It is practice, followed by a night of sleep, that leads to perfection. (p. 126)

This I can personally attest to on two levels. One, when I was a practicing classical musician, I can recall many, many times where a tough piece of music was worked out overnight through getting significant sleep time. It was so much easier and made more sense in the morning. I remember feeling like this was some sort of mental miracle at the time! Secondly, when learning real estate scripts for presentations, the same thing happened…it all seemed to ‘gel’ after a few nights of allowing my subconscious to noodle it out.

· Microsleep (complete blindness to the outside world for a few seconds) makes drowsy driving more dangerous than drug and alcohol induced driving, combined. (p. 134)

How many of you are wondering right now as you read that about dangerous driving….has this ever happened to you?

Even our kids are effected:

· Sleep deprivation dramatically works against the developmental phase of life when adolescents are most vulnerable to developing psychiatric disorders. (p. 152)

· Teachers work against their intentions (to have students retain learnings) when they end-load exams in the final days of a semester, thus encouraging short sleeping or all-nighters. Instead, there should be no “final” exams at a marking period, but rather more frequent, formative assessments(p. 156)

Dr. Walker lists

· Key factors that have powerfully changed how much and how well we sleep: (1) constant electric light, (2) regularized temperature, (3) caffeine, (4) alcohol, and (5) alarm clocks. (p. 265)

To Sleep or Not (p. 340)

Within the space of a mere hundred years, human beings have abandoned their biologically mandated need for adequate sleep—one that evolution spent 3,400,000 years perfecting in service of life-support functions. As a result, the decimation of sleep throughout industrialized nations is having a catastrophic impact on our health, our life expectancy, our safety, our productivity, and the education of our children.

This silent sleep loss epidemic is the greatest public health challenge we face in the twenty-first century in developed nations. If we wish to avoid the suffocating noose of sleep neglect, the premature death it inflicts, and the sickening health it invites, a radical shift in our personal, cultural, professional, and societal appreciation of sleep must occur.

I believe it is time for us to reclaim our right to a full night of sleep, without embarrassment or the damaging stigma of laziness. In doing so, we can be reunited with that most powerful elixir of wellness and vitality, dispensed through every conceivable biological pathway. Then we may remember what it feels like to be truly awake during the day, infused with the very deepest plentitude of being.

Dr. Mathew Walker’s ‘RULES’ if you will, can be summarized in his 12 Tips For Healthy Sleep.

  1. Stick to a sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
  2. Exercise is great, but not too late in the day (no later than three hours before bedtime).
  3. Avoid caffeine and nicotine.
  4. Avoid alcoholic drinks before bed. (It erodes your REM sleep.)
  5. Avoid large meals and beverages late at night.
  6. Avoid medicines that delay or disrupt your sleep.
  7. Don’t take naps after 3pm.
  8. Relax before bed, such as reading or listening to music.
  9. Take a hot bath before bed (to drop your body temperature the necessary 2-3 degrees F).
  10. Dark bedroom, cool bedroom, gadget-free bedroom (anything that might distract your sleep).
  11. Have the right sunlight exposure. Wake up with the sun or bright lights.
  12. Don’t lie in bed awake (get up if you can’t sleep).

Now that you know, without a shadow of a doubt, that taking sleep seriously effects virtually everything you do, what will you change? What’s the cost of NOT changing?

Are you going to be one of those dorky sales people who thinks it’s impressive to brag about how much you suck at sleeping? That’s what you’re doing when you say ‘ah, I don’t need any rest, I’m a stud / studette!’ Dr. Walker’s study showed that you’re literally doing the opposite of what you think when you operate with no sleep. You think you’re pulling more out of life, when in fact, you’re quite literally headed faster for death.

“the shorter your sleep, the shorter your life. The leading causes of disease and death in developed nations—diseases that are crippling health-care systems, such as heart disease, obesity, dementia, diabetes, and cancer—all have recognized causal links to a lack of sleep.”
― Matthew Walker, Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams

Ultimately, you have a lifestyle choice to make. Follow the sleep rules and live longer, happier, more creatively and of course as a result help more people thus making you more profitable….or….keep on ignoring sleep. It’s up to you.