Sleep is More Important than Food

Think about it, how well do you perform hungry – compared to how well you perform if you haven’t slept? A day without food, vs. a day without sleep – under which circumstance could you get more work done?

That’s the subject of the article by Tony Schwartz in the Harvard Business Review - Sleep is More Important than Food.

So why is sleep one of the first things we’re willing to sacrifice as the demands in our lives keep rising? We continue to live by a remarkably durable myth: sleeping one hour less will give us one more hour of productivity. In reality, the research suggests that even small amounts of sleep deprivation take a significant toll on our health, our mood, our cognitive capacity and our productivity.

So go ahead and sleep in – go to bed early – anything to get your sleep. It is a luxury of sorts, but one you shouldn’t feel bad about indulging in. There is no downside to getting enough sleep.

Everyone who exercises should hopefully know by now that you need to take breaks. You exercise one day, that tells your body it needs more muscle, and then you take a few days off to let your body build the muscle. If you don’t take breaks – you never see the gains.

Sleep is the same for learning. When you learn something during the day, it gets stored in a buffer (short term memory). It is like your brain making a list of things it needs to do. Then, while you sleep, your brain commits those things to long term memory. But, your short term memory is limited – if things don’t get saved, then they are gone and you have to learn them again… And that is more wasteful of your time than just going to bed a hour earlier.