Sleep – your brain’s superpower

My clients love to respond to my urging them to get more exercise by enthusiastically setting their alarm clocks an hour earlier, so they can get up and work out. Instead of sleeping six hours a night, they go for five. Soon, they call to tell me how exhausted they feel and complain that exercising is clearly terrible for their performance.

People—you are not superhuman! You need seven to eight hours of sleep per night. There’s no getting around it. If you deprive yourself of sleep, you will walk around in a brain fog. You will have a very tough time hitting peak performance.

Sadly, it’s trendy for corporate executives to brag about how little sleep they get. Former Yahoo boss Marissa Mayer claims she functions fabulously on four hours. Apple CEO Tim Cook says he hits the gym by 5 a.m. Fashion designer Tom Ford humblebrags in interviews that he can only sleep three hours a night because he’s such a creative whirlwind.

I would love to change this ridiculous trend. Executives who deprive themselves of a decent night’s sleep are wearing themselves out and destroying their ability to operate at their best. Ask any Olympic athlete—strategic rest periods are crucial to reaching peak performance. At a press conference, swimming great Michael Phelps described his post-meet routine: “I’m going to get a massage, I’m going to get in a fifty-degree ice tank, and then I’m going to go home and pass out.”