”I can sleep when I die,” was my response when people asked me how I managed to work so many hours and only get 4-5 hours of sleep. After reading more about Arianna Huffington’s #SleepRevolution, I realized that time could come sooner than I really wanted.
I read one of her posts where she said, “We may not have a cure for the common cold yet, but we do know how to increase the likelihood of getting one: don’t sleep.”
The more I read about the effects of lack of sleep I realized my lack of sleep may kill my success if it doesn’t kill me. Let’s talk about 3 ways that having a lack of sleep can kill your success.
1. A Myriad of Upper Respiratory Infections - Learning that lack of sleep can weaken your immune system and allow you to catch a cold easier. That explained my twice yearly upper respiratory infections. I would start getting a cold and it would lead to sinus drainage. I can feel it coming on. I would cough so much I would pull muscles in my stomach and back and it would keep me awake. I was losing more sleep than I already was. I felt so bad I sometimes thought about killing myself. Just briefly, but still. I had to take cough syrup with codeine just to sleep. Once it hit I was down for at least one week of bed rest. I would have to lay in bed and sleep to get better. That alone should have told me something. It took me at least three weeks to get over the infection which affected my work. I was listless and weak at work.
2. Killed My Energy and Motivation - I traveled a lot for my career. I had achieved my goals and loved my career. The more I traveled and the longer hours I put in, I began to become tired and started a lack of energy. I started wondering if my career was worth it. When you put in all of the hours, even if you love your work, you start losing the motivation. I wanted to achieve my career goals so I would be able to afford to spend time with my wife and kids. However, on the weekends I would often end up taking naps in the middle of the day. This took time away from my family. The loss of energy and motivation I once had may have contributed to my position being eliminated in 2006. I think it certainly had something to do with the fact that I wasn’t upset about it.
3. Overeating and weight gain - I do know for a fact that not getting enough sleep contributed to my overeating and weight gain. There are many nights I would work late at the office when I traveled and then head out to a late dinner and eat a heavy meal with dessert and head back to the hotel. I would frequently have candy or other snacks around in the room while I continued working past midnight. I would usually get around 4-5 hours of sleep each night as I worked on achieving my career goals.
One day, when I was home for the weekend, I went to sleep on the couch. I slept from Friday afternoon until Sunday - through the day and with the kids running through the house. I had NEVER done that before. I went to the “Doc in the Box” and they tested my blood sugar. It was over 800. They told me to go to the Emergency Room as soon as possible. I spent three days in the hospital with my blood sugar hitting 1000. I could have died. I ended up becoming a Type-2 Diabetic. I continued to not sleep enough for years. When I stepped on the scale and saw 296 pounds, I’m only 5’ 6”, I almost fainted. I believe my weight gain and diabetes was a result of not getting enough sleep.
It’s only been the last couple of years that I started getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night. I have stopped having the upper respiratory infections, knock on wood, and have the energy and motivation to exercise. I have released my weight down to under 225 pounds. I had the drive now to change my career to do what I am passionate about and have a greater outlook on life.
I will sleep when I die, but I am going to keep getting enough now so that doesn’t happen for a long time.