Sleep Less

Thomas Edison’s life story is one worth reading about. Part visionary, part gambler and part genius, he was a brilliant inventor who made the best use of his time on the planet. Though he had only six months of formal schooling, he had reach such classics as The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empireby the time he was eight and invented the phonograph, which captured sound on records, by the time he was thirty. A master of positive thinking, when someone asked him why, during his last years when he was almost totally deaf, he did not invent a hearing aid, he replied, “How much have you heard in the last twenty – four hours that you couldn’t do without?” He then added with a smile, “A man who has to shout can never tell a lie.” But what I remember the most about his special man was his rare ability to thrive on only four hours of sleep. “Sleep is like a drug,” he explained. “Take too much at a time and it makes you dopey. You lose time, vitality and opportunities.”
    Most of us sleep far more than we need to. We say to ourselves that we must have atleast eight good hours of time under the covers in order to function at our best. We cannot imagine getting by on less sleep and shudder at the very thought. Yet, as I wrote in an earlier lesson, it is not the quantity of sleep that is most important. What really counts is the quality and richness of your sleep.
   Just remember those times when everything in your life was working. You were thriving at the office, fulfilled in your relationships and growing in your inner life. You were overflowing with energy and passionate about every minute of your days. If you are like most people, you will also recall that during these times you could get by on less sleep. As a matter of fact, there was so much to be excited about that you did not want to waste time by oversleeping. Now reflect on those times of your life when things were not going so well. Your job was exhausting, the people in your life were driving you crazy and you had no time for yourself. During these times, you probably slept longer than usual. Perhaps you slept until two o’clock in the afternoon on Saturday or Sunday (we often use sleep as an escape from reality during difficult times). But how did you feel when you finally woke up? Groggy, uninspired and tired.
   So it is not the number of hours of sleep that is key but rather the amount of renewal your body receives. Strive for less time in bed but a richer, deeper sleep. Understand that fatigue is often a mental creation that stems from doing tings you do not like to do. And remember Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s wise words: 

The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upwards in the night.



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