A/B Test Your Life #1: Sleep

The A/B process:

“Stop letting whim, fancy, and trends influence your habits, Test and Know what makes you the best version of yourself”

I’ve been A/B testing my life for the last 3–4 years and through talking about it, realized that it is an effective way to demonstrate how to make decisions on personal habits, spending, and discipline. It all begins with an operating model which is: “Know Where you are going, Why you are going there, and How you are getting there”. We are creatures of whim and fancy. Even the most stoic and logical among us make emotional decisions. My question when considering a new habit, hobby, or discipline is: Where is it taking me, why am I going there, and how will I get there? The more experienced goal setters and achievers among us will tell you that specificity is paramount to achieving goals. Another is actual living proof. When you A/B test yourself, you have undeniable proof that one process works better than another. With that proof comes conviction and deeper self-awareness. These are crucial to maintaining long-term success, satisfaction, and fulfillment.

Definition:

I’ve been talking about A/B testing with the assumption that it is a widely known practice. A/B testing at its core is testing two things against each other to see which works better. The term is widely associated with website design and optimization. Designers would test button design and placement ‘A’ against button design and placement ‘B’. They would measure clicks, engagement, time spent, or whatever KPIs were of importance to them. They would present their findings and settle on the more successful design. In essence, when making a decision, they would back up their suggestions with valid evidence and proof that concept ‘A’ outperformed concept ‘B’.

This is the process that A/B Testing Your Life is based on. We are all truly unique individuals and what works for one person will not necessarily yield the same results for you.

Test #1: Sleep

You will see endless articles promoting different amounts of sleep you should get every night. We are also assaulted by friends, co-workers, and mentors who talk about how little they sleep and how much they get done. This can put a lot of pressure on us to sleep less and work more. This method absolutely works. For some people. I sleep 8–9 hours a night now because I have tested and proven that, for the work I am doing right now, it significantly enhances my brain’s processing power and my memory’s retention ability.

Here is how I tested it:

Test A — Hypotheses:

Sleeping less will give me more hours in the day to get shit done. I am a fit and healthy 32-year-old man, I can not only survive but thrive on 5 hours of sleep

I switched my schedule to going to bed at 12am and waking at 5am, Sunday through Friday and 12am-8am on Saturday for three weeks. (in future posts I will explain how I set a timeframe)

Test B — Hypotheses

Sleeping more will give my brain more time to rest, allow me to reach full REM cycles, and allow my body more stationary time to heal, recharge, and restore. These things will make me more productive and effective.

The following three weeks I switched to 10pm-6am, Sunday through Friday and 11pm-7am on Saturday.

Findings:

I used three KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to measure the outcomes of the tests and used daily journal entries to keep track:

  • At 3pm, rate my ability (Terrible, Decent, or Good) to recite, from memory, the major decisions I had made that morning, including stakeholders, partners, numbers, and deadlines.
  • At 8pm, write down a physiology evaluation: State of mind, mood, physical state (fatigued, energized, or neutral), and whether my mindset throughout the day had been positive, negative, or neutral.
  • When I officially began my workday (another A/B test) I noted how mentally prepared I felt (scatterbrained, lightly focused, highly focused)

Results? Getting a full 8 hours of sleep drastically enhanced my state of mind, my memory retention, my mood, and my ability to execute and deliver at a higher level. I have since tested several other options against each other and test ‘B’ has remained my most effective routine.

I have been A/B testing my life for nearly 4 years but have not truly formalized the process until this past spring. I cannot emphasize enough how important a grounded, tested, and proven knowledge of what makes me a better and more productive person has been. I am not affected by other people’s routines, or hearing an ‘expert’ talk about how you can be more effective with 5 hours per night. Every one of us is different and we must find what makes us the best version of us. I KNOW now what works for me and can now focus on testing other areas of my life.

I know that this process is not scientific enough or regimented enough, or any number of things… The key here is what I have learned in life and starting companies, do not wait while getting the details figured out, start NOW. We are exceptionally good at stalling and delaying anything that provokes change. Start with something small. Don’t drink coffee for three weeks and then drink it every day. Keep your desk spotlessly clean then allow clutter. See which makes you more productive or creative. Any number of small tests to help you better understand how you operate, what makes you more effective, and what makes you the best version of you. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this methodology and sharing more with you.

Cheers,

Ben

I am writing to stand out among the recycled ideas, content, lists, and bullshit through vulnerability and openness. The purpose? Experiment with the assumption that true vulnerability and transparency bring more meaning, happiness, and fulfillment to myself and others than maintaining a status quo. Thanks to any that read (if anyone besides my parents read this…)