It often happens on Sunday nights for me. I start thinking about the week ahead and the movie reel goes into motion.Scenes play out in my mind’s eye, things that have never happened, things that may happen, things that have already happened. Often I can turn the projector off and fall comfortably into a good night’s sleep. Sometimes, I’m not so successful, tossing and turning, trying to lull myself into slumber.
Then there are the nights when my brain doesn’t stop working. I sleep, but I don’t sleep. Clearly, my mind needs the seemingly quiet space to expand into and wander around. These are the sleepless nights. Not so much fun. But maybe they should be.
Verne was relating a story that occurred at the 20th anniversary of his MIT “Birthing of Giants” program.
Henry McGovern, founder/CEO of $1 billion Poland-based Amrest, posed this question to several hundred CEOs of growth firms at the 20th anniversary of the MIT “Birthing of Giants” program I launched. Whether out all night for the sheer joy of living; or engaged so deeply in something with which (or whom!) you’re passionate that night passes into day; what is the right number of sleepless nights in 2013?
I like the perspective that Mr. McGovern took here. He’s not referring to nights of tossing and turning. He’s really looking at a measure for one’s passion. Are you in so deep that you lose track of time? Are you so passionate about something that nothing can tear you away?
So what is the right number?
Zero is not. If you think so, I suggest you go out and find a new passion. But too many isn’t healthy either. The number that Verne suggested was eight. A sleepless night once every six to eight weeks sounds reasonable to me. It’s a nice measure of my passion and interests. And who’s to say what it is that keeps me up. As long as the brain is engaged for the right reasons, that creativity and fun will flow into other areas in my life.
So how many sleepless nights will you vow to have?
Now, for those of you that still suffer from nights lying in bed, your mind spinning around the day’s events, here are a few tips to help you turn off the projector and rest better.
- A warm glass of something. (Preferably not caffeinated nor alcoholic.) If you believe it works, then it works.
- Create a ritual around letting your mind come to rest before going to bed. Hot shower or bath? Reading?
- No screen time. Let you brain decompress for at least 30 minutes before lights out.
- Journal for a few minutes. This is a good opportunity to purge what’s circulating in your mind.
- If you can afford it, get a really comfortable mattress. If not, splurge on a good pillow or two.
- Create your list of priorities for the next day, in order of importance, so you know what you have to tackle come sun up. Once you have them written down, put the list away for safe keeping. Don’t worry. It’ll be there when you wake up.
- Courtesy of The National Sleep Foundation: use your bedroom only for sleep and sex.