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6hrs Sleep vs 8hrs Sleep

The differences that 2hrs made for my work life

Photo by Christopher Jolly on Unsplash

This is the perfect time to write this article.

After 4 hours of sleep last, and about to embark on a 4hr train journey up to London — you really do begin to feel the effects from lack of sleep.

*You may spot typos….*

This topic has been on my mind for a while now.

The last 6–12 months has been a giant experiment for my sleeping patterns, and although everyone’s sleep very much differs, there’s lots of sleep-based lessons to extract. Improving my sleep routine has doubled my productivity and potential for work and life based activities.

Relationships with Sleep

Being 24-years old, my relationship with sleep has never been ideal.

Combining a high-work ethic, start-up job roles and university lifestyle, I’d downplay sleep as another element of my day, regardless of the time committed. The first time I flagged sleep as a concern was in 2015.

2015 was an intense work year for me. I’d joined a start-up in a new city, left my family behind (a 5hr bus trip away) and focused my efforts on starting a new YouTube channel too.

Thanks to this massive change in my routine, sleep took a back seat.

My day ended like this. Getting home from work, I’d head straight to my Chromebook and start tapping away into the night. I’d stop based on whether I could physically continue (usually midnight or 1AM, sometimes 2AM), throwing in an occasional hour of basketball with my flat mate (once or twice a week) and my body and mind were in a vicious circle dying for rest.

The worst addition was the early rise.

Despite work starting at 9AM, like most work places, I’d get into my local coffee shop in the city at 6:30AM, leaving me a total maximum window of sleep of 6 hours. This meant my wake-up time was 5:30AM most days, and heading to bed at midnight, this really put pressure on my body.

6 Hours of Sleep

When up in the city, you’d blend in with this sleep pattern.

The work atmosphere was riot. I remember discussing my crazy routine, with pride. When I should have been concerned. And others joining in, like it was some sort of trophy cabinet comparison.

Not good looking back on it.

Of course, there’s an argument here. The hours I dedicated surely helped me grow my now-evolving YouTube community or my freelance work… Surely?!

Yes, to some extent. I excelled still, despite the lack of sleep.

But with more hours in the day, that was one of the benefits of working outside of the workplace, however the amount of sleep was really taking it’s toll. I wasn’t looking healthy at all.

So what happened to me with 6 hours of sleep:

PROS

  • More time to expand YouTube efforts
  • Taught me about my sleeping limitations

CONS

  • Peaks and troughs of energy across the day
  • My thought process was always long-winded and foggy
  • Fitness sessions would never deliver the best results
  • Listening in and around the office dropped off
  • My skin quality would not always be good

Other such habits made this worse, normally associated with work. Skipping lunch breaks, too much exercise, bad sleep posture, sitting down most of the day and many more elements brought together was a recipe for disaster.

Cutting a long story short. The 6 hour sleep routine wasn’t for me, despite my forced attempt to make it work. The results on 8–9 hours changed my day.

8 Hours of Sleep

Skip forward a few years, and now I sleep between 8–9 hours.

Breaking down my own judgments about this, this is actually the optimum time for recovery for me. The majority of days, I’m now out of bed and within 5–10 minutes (of processing my deep sleep) I’m awake and at it.

The 8 hours now makes me feel refreshed and gives me the energy to think more smoothly. Combining all of this additional sleep with a relatively healthy morning routine and a tasty breakfast, things are 10/10.

So what happened to me with 8 hours of sleep:

PRO

  • More focused and channeled work sessions
  • My schedule/routine looks more sensible
  • Healthy look for my skin, hair and eyes
  • Faster response time (brain, decisions, reactions)

CONS

  • Less hours in the day
  • Guilty feelings when others are working into the night

You probably ask, what’s the reasoning behind this?!

Getting married helped. Aha.

No seriously, during that time in the city, I wasn’t living with my, now, wife. So I’d come home and just occupy myself with work versus Xbox.

Since we moved into our flat, I’ve tried hard to break into a 9–5 pattern to make sure to separate work and life a little more. This focus on keeping a balance has paid off. I feel more switched on than I ever have and much more energetic.

Do you ever sleep 6 hours?

Of course. In fact, Thursdays, I sleep 4–6 hours a night.

This is where we started the article. This late night work session, once a week, gives me the opportunity to catch-up on goal-planning and editing.

It does leave me knackered the next day, but sometimes too many sets of 8–9 hours sleep does leave me over-tired, so I like to throw in this stressor. Maybe I’m mad, but it helps right now.

The moral of this story is:

  • If you are pondering increasing the amount of sleep you are taking. Do it for 3-months (90-days) and tally your benefits using a 10-minute journal entry in the morning after waking. When I did this, my hand-writing improved and I noticed I was a lot more alert, not just then, but across the day. You will notice the affects and you can then weight this against your workload.
  • Try and avoid listening to “busy” or “sleep-poor” stories of colleagues. This will try and normalise this bad habit. Trust me, hearing these tales really puts you off from sleep, you want to “work harder” and “hustle” but chances are you are damaging your health, with occasional exceptions. I now deliver the same results on more sleep, and even more sometimes, despite loosing those 2 hours a day.
  • If you have trouble heading to bed, there’s countless solutions. Use “Kaizen” a Japanese practice about steady learning and improvement and change one thing at a time and hack your sleep together. Over time, you’ll have the perfect sleep set-up and bedtime wind-down. One thing that Becca and I do now is have Google Home Mini play “forest sounds” to fall asleep too and set a 2hr sleep timer to stop playing into the morning.

Of course, if you sleep 6 hours and this is your optimum time. That’s great. Stick to it. But just make sure you are listening to your body when it comes to recovery. It’ll pay off over time, for sure.

Thanks for reading along today guys. This is me. I’m called Francesco. Great to meet you all! I like to share stories like this here on Medium and also discuss how productivity software can improve your time management.

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Francesco D'Alessio

Francesco D'Alessio

🎯 Host of Keep Productive — predicting the future of productivity apps and helping people find and learn the tools & software.

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